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Wynnum Groom Hennessey (1895–1917)

Another young Duntroon officer has fallen at the Front. News has been received that the Rev David Hennessey’s youngest son, Lieutenant Wynnum Groom McDonald Hennessey was killed in action in France on February 10. He was 21 years of age, and had the promise of a distinguished military career. Educated at Wesley College, Melbourne, he was prior to the war an officer in the Richmond area, under Captain Dwyer. Later he became a 1st lieutenant in the 55th Collingwood Infantry, and after a course of training at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, was made a captain of machine guns in that regiment. On the outbreak of war he enlisted as in officer in the Australian Imperial Forces, and filled various military positions in Melbourne training both privates and non-commissioned officers and for a time acting as adjutant at the Ascot Vale camp. He had an engaging disposition and personality, which made him many friends. A fellow-officer writes: "I had the opportunity, through long military acquaintance with him to note his stirling qualities. He was greatly respected by all the N.C.O.'s and men of the original C Company, and I am sure every one of them will be deeply moved to hear of his death. He was a straightforward, capable and conscientious officer, of many sterling qualities, and will be a great loss to his country." In Egypt he was in the front trenches for months and afterwards was appointed musketry instructor to his battalion, when he had charge of the construction of a great rifle range in the desert. On being ordered to England he was at once recognised as an efficient young officer, and was sent by headquarters to take a special course of study at the Hythe Musketry School in Kent; after which he was appointed musketry officer to the 2nd Training Battalion at Perham Downs, Salisbury Plain, and given a staff of officers for the musketry training of the battalion. He remained here for six months, but, anxious to join his two brothers, who were Imperial officers in France, he obtained a transfer to the Front. He was there only a short time when his battalion (—Australian Infantry) took part in an assault on the German trenches. Descibing this in a letter he said "I have been through some wonderful adventures and seen some remarkable sights but am quite well in spite of the Germans’ shot and shell. My Battalion has done its share for the present, and we are now out of action and safe back in ‘billets’ resting." Through exposure to cold and rain, however, he had contracted bronchitis and the doctor sent him into hospital for a week so that he might have rest in a comfortable bed. On New Year’s Day he described himself as out of hospital "well, and fit for anything." A month later, at the head of his men he made the supreme sacrifice in the cause of righteousness. It will interest many to know that some years ago he was connected with the Collins Street Congregational Sunday School, Melbourne, and often assisted his father in similar work. On his mother's side he was the descendant of distinguished military men, known in Scotch history as the McDonalds, who were Lords of the Isles, some of whom, in the Crimea, were also cut down in the flower of their youth. The Rev David Hennessey is the author of The Outlaw and other work of fiction, and is also Sunday School Convenor for the Congregational Union of Australia and New Zealand. He was stationed in Queensland for some time. Another of his sons, now in France, served with Botha in Africa.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Hennessey, Wynnum Groom (1895–1917)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]




10 February, 1917 (aged ~ 22)

Cause of Death

killed in action

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Military Service