Thomas Henry KENNEDY MC

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KENNEDY, Thomas Henry

Service Number: 322
Enlisted: 17 December 1915
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 38th Infantry Battalion
Born: Kyneton, Victoria, Australia, 1883
Home Town: Bendigo, Greater Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Langley School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in action, France, 15 April 1918
Cemetery: Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme
Killed at villages of Buire and Treux Plot III, Row A, Grave No. 3
Memorials: Kyneton Honour Roll, Kyneton War Memorial, Langley Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

17 Dec 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 322, 38th Infantry Battalion
11 Jan 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 38th Infantry Battalion, Melbourne, Vic.
1 May 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 38th Infantry Battalion, Melbourne, Vic.
20 Jun 1916: Involvement Sergeant, SN 322, 38th Infantry Battalion
20 Jun 1916: Embarked Sergeant, SN 322, 38th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Runic, Melbourne
27 Feb 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 322, 38th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages, GSW left knee.
5 Mar 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 38th Infantry Battalion, France
27 May 1917: Honoured Military Cross, Third Ypres, Recommendation for 'Work at Ploegsteert on 27-28 May 1917'. PLOEGSTEKRT (Sic) on the night 27th/28th May 1917, on the occasion of a raid on the enemy trenches, this officer was in charge of a party detailed to storm the enemy’s second line. He succeeded in reaching his objective, when his party encountered very strong resistance from two parties of the enemy’s bombers, who engaged our party from the front and flank. Lieut. KENNEDY had a thumb and one finger blown off, but continued to lead his party of ten men of whom seven became casualties, until the enemy’s resistance was broken. He then personally supervised the evacuation of his killed and wounded. Throughout the operation he displayed the highest qualities of leadership and courage. (Party of 5 offices and 200 Ordinary Ranks) Recommendation date: 31 May 1917 for Military Cross.
28 May 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, SN 322, 38th Infantry Battalion, GSW to right leg and left hand during trench raid near Ploegsteert, Belgium.
27 Jun 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 38th Infantry Battalion, England
15 Apr 1918: Involvement Lieutenant, 38th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

Thomas Henry KENNEDY

Military Cross

Recommendation for work at Ploegsteert on 27-28 May 1917: - 

'At PLOEGSTEKRT (Sic) on the night 27th/28th May 1917, on the occasion of a raid on the enemy trenches, this officer was in charge of a party detailed to storm the enemy’s second line. He succeeded in reaching his objective, when his party encountered very strong resistance from two parties of the enemy’s bombers, who engaged our party from the front and flank. Lieut. KENNEDY had a thumb and one finger blown off, but continued to lead his party of ten men of whom seven became casualties, until the enemy’s resistance was broken. He then personally supervised the evacuation of his killed and wounded. Throughout the operation he displayed the highest qualities of leadership and courage.' (Party of 5 offices and 200 Ordinary Ranks)                                                         Recommendation date: 31 May 1917 for Military Cross.

Published in 1920, Eric Fairy in the History of the 38th Battalion describes the action that took place on May 28, 1917.

‘A raiding party of 7 officers and 214 other ranks chosen from all companies attacked the enemy at two o’clock on the morning of the 28th. The party was divided into two columns of which one effected an entry into the enemy’s trench and brought back a prisoner. Unfortunately the raiding party suffered heavy casualties many of which were caused by our own barrage. Two officers and twenty-eight other ranks were killed or missing: two officers and sixty-three other ranks were wounded. Lieuts. W.H McCullock and T.H Kennedy were awarded the Military Cross for courageous conduct in the face of the enemy. Lieut. Kennedy, although wounded in his right hand, attacked a party of the enemy, killing several, and forcing a sergeant-major to surrender at the point of an empty pistol grasped in his wounded hand’.[1]

The Kennedy family were originally from Greenhill near Malmsbury and supplied 4 family members to the war effort. In addition to Thomas, his elder brother, Pte James Robert Kennedy, 24th Battalion, died of disease on 26 February 1917; A younger brother Pte Hugh KENNEDY, was with the newly formed 4th Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps, and he returned to Australia in April 1919 and finally their sister: Staff Nurse Jean KENNEDY of the Australian Army Nursing Service, who returned to Australia in January 1918. Both James and Thomas Kennedy had also amazingly served in the Boer war a decade and a half earlier. [2]

Regrettably, Mrs Jane Kennedy would lose another son with Thomas being killed nearly a year later on April 15, 1918.

Mrs Kennedy would write to the Defence Department requesting information on Thomas’s death. She would receive the following brief response typical of that time: -  ‘With reference to your letter of the 14th inst, the late Lieut. Kennedy was killed in action on the 15th April last while in charge of his Platoon in an outpost position in front of the village of Treux. The position was being lightly shelled, and unfortunately one shell landed right on the shelter in which Kennedy happened to be, killing him instantly. He is buried at the No.2 British Military Cemetery, Heilly.” [3]

In the history of the 38th Battalion, Eric Fairy would add: - ‘Killed at villages of Buire and Treux, the front line about 100 yards out from the latter village that a very popular officer of the Battalion (Lieut.T H Kennedy. MC) was killed by a shell on the 15th April. [4]

SERVICE DETAILS: 

Regiment No: 322

Place of birth: Kyneton Victoria

Religion: Presbyterian

Occupation: Farmer

Address: 53 Hodgkinson Street, Bendigo

Marital status: Single

Age at embarkation: 32

Next of kin: Mother, Mrs Jane Kennedy, Hodgkinson Street, Father deceased was Hugh KENNEDY

Enlistment date: 11 January 1916

Rank on enlistment: Sergeant

Unit name: 38th Battalion, A Company

Embarked on board HMAT A54 Runic on 20 June 1916

Final Rank: Lieutenant                 

Military Cross-Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No.

Fate: Killed in Action 15 April 1918

Killed at villages of Buire and Treux

Buried: No.2 British Military Cemetery, Heilly, France

PLOEGSTEKRT-  the name of this small village, and of the nearby wood, is actually Ploegsteert, but to those who served here during the Great War it became known as ‘Plug street’. The village is eight miles south of Ypres, Belgium and not far from the French border. The fighting on May 27/28the 1917 was most likely in relation to an initial attack by the Australian 3rd Division (which included the 38th Battalion) a New Zealand Division and British 25th Division in order to capture the town of Messines.

[1] The History of 38th Battalion A.I.F by Eric Fairey: Published by Cambridge Press 192? Page 21.  

[2] Desert Column Web site - 947 Private Thomas Henry KENNEDY, 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles.
[3] Thomas H Kennedy Service File, Page 80. National Archives Australia – Discovering Anzacs
[4] The History of 38th Battalion A.I.F by Eric Fairey: Published by Cambridge Press 1920 Page 53.

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