Eustace Godfrey KENNY

Poppy

KENNY, Eustace Godfrey

Service Number: 422
Enlisted: 20 May 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 5th Machine Gun Battalion
Born: St Peters, South Australia, 16 January 1896
Home Town: Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College
Occupation: Bank clerk
Died: Died of wounds, France, 20 April 1918, aged 22 years
Cemetery: Aubigny British Cemetery
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Yorketown War Memorial, Yorketown and District of Melville Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

20 May 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 422, Adelaide, South Australia
20 Oct 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 422, 8th Machine Gun Company, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
20 Oct 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 422, 8th Machine Gun Company, HMAT Port Lincoln, Melbourne
20 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 422, 5th Machine Gun Battalion, Dernancourt/Ancre

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Biography

From the book Fallen Saints -  Eustace Godfrey Kenny was born in Adelaide and raised in the family home, ‘Glonanbrony’ at Victoria Park South Australia. While at Saint Peter's College he served a year with the senior cadets and upon leaving was transferred to the 78th Infantry. Before the war, he was a clerk with the Bank of Adelaide at Yorktown, South Australia and was a prominent member of the Yorketown cricket, football, and tennis Cubs.

He enlisted in Adelaide on 20 May 1916, was posted to C Company 2nd Depot Battalion and in late July was transferred to the 7th Machine Gun Company in Seymour Victoria for machine gun training.  On 20 October, he sailed from Melbourne aboard HMAT Port Lincoln with the 6th quota of reinforcements for the 8th Machine Gun Company and transferred to HMAT Ulysses at Sierra Leone on 5 December. He disembarked at Devonport, England at the end of December and marched in to Perham Downs Camp where on 13 February 1917 he was transferred from the 8th Machine Gun Company to 5th Division Machine Gun Company.

During May - June he attended a bombing course at 3rd Training Battalion, Perham Downs and sailed for France on 7 September. On 12 January 1918 he and was appointed lance corporal in the 25th Machine Gun Company, 5th Machine Gun Battalion and promoted to Corporal on 10 February.

On 20 April 1918, when a German shell struck the chateau in which the orderly room of the headquarters was then located, 422 Corporal Kenny was severely wounded and died that day; he was 22 years of age.

Witness statements [i]

During an interview in July 1918 CQMS Harold Pettman said Corporal Kenny was hit by a shell which exploded through the roof of the orderly room. He told the interviewing officer that at the time Kenny was attached to the 5th Machine Gun Company ‘but was really a 25th Company man.’ Pettman said he saw Kenny was hit in the neck by a piece of shell about 5 p.m. ‘When I saw him he was conscious but in great pain, and I know that the divisional padre was with him all night. According to Pettman he was hit at an old chateau that used to be used as an old Corps School, in the Corbie sector, and after being hit was taken to the dressing station at Aubigny, where he was buried close by at a Military Extension Cemetery, map reference - Sheet 62. DO – 2. D 88.

Pettman said he was buried alone, ‘we erected a cross and put a railing round. He was one of the finest lads we ever had, most popular and known to everybody. I remember the adjutant thought so highly of him at the formation of a Battn that he took him to assist to form the headquarters staff.’

Driver Frank Watts also interviewed in  July 1918 said, ‘April 20th about 4 p.m. at Fouilloy near Corbie, he was in the battalion orderly room and I was standing just outside the door when I heard a shell coming, which hit the roof. He came staggering out and fell down just outside, hitting his head against the wall.’ Watts said he was wounded when he came out so he and others took him to the doctor where Watts helped to undress him.

Watts said ‘he was wounded in the left shoulder just by the neck, and very seriously in other parts. He was then taken to the dressing station and I understand he died about an hour later. Buried at the cemetery just outside Aubigny, grave marked with a cross, battalion colours on which I have seen. He was practically unconscious from the first moments I saw him. At the time he was a Corporal, one of the best fellows we had, a South Australian, about 5ft 9, clean shaven medium build, aged about 22, joined the AIF with a new company, formerly in Blighty.’

At the end of July 1918, Private William Gamble said ‘He is buried at Aubigny, near Corbie. I helped sew him up on 21 April. His grave is in a small cemetery off the main road. It is a very good grave and had a large wreath of beads and a cross. I saw him after he died. He had been badly wounded by a shell when in BHQ. He came from South Australia and was a clerk. Believe his father was a minister.’

In August 1918, Private John Wilson said ‘... I helped to bury him at 11 a.m., the next morning about 150 yards from the dressing station. I saw the cross ready to be erected. I was in the Orderly Room when the Adjutant, Lieutenant R.A. Smyth, 25th M.G.C. wrote to his father giving all particulars. Description. Age 27. Height 5-10. Complexion Dark. Medium Build.’



[i] Australian War Memorial, Australian Red Cross wounded and missing enquiry bureau files - 422 Eustace Godfrey Kenny / 1500413, viewed 2 January 2006

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