Monday, 30 March 2015

Pompey Ellott's Left Hand Man - Lt Colonel Denehy 58th 57th Battalion CO

click to buy
book about 58th and 57th Battalion AIF
Biography Of Lt Colonel Charles Denehy and his time with
the 7th, 58th and 57th Battalions as they fought at Gallipoli Anzac and the Western Front.

The author Dr. Kristin Schneider grew up with the nostalgia of an old wartime photograph of her Great Uncle Charlie kept in her Mother's desk draw. Later in life, she visited her Uncle Charlie in hospital not long before his death in 1968. These happenings ignited a quest to learn more about Denehy which has culminated over 40 years later in the publishing of this 360 page book.

On the 24 August 1914, Charles Aloysius Denehy who was a school teacher before the war, was appointed 2nd Lieutenant and Commanding Officer of H later D Company of the 7th Battalion AIF. He had previously served as an Officer in the Militia.

Denehy after being wounded at Gallipoli
on-board  the Hospital ship
On the 25th April 1915 he landed with the 7th Battalion at Gallipoli. Like his 7th Battalion Commander Pompey Elliott he was wounded on the first day. Suffering a severe gunshot wound to his right arm, he was forced to retire, later being evacuated by way of the crowded hospital ship "Clan McGilliveray".
He returned to Anzac and the Battalion in September 1915.

The author uses Denehy's personal wartime diary to introduce his reflections and related stories of other 7th Battalion men. The book also includes letters that Denehy wrote to his soldiers next of kin. Thus the narrative historically extends to these soldiers who were known to and/or commanded by Denehy.
After Gallipoli, Denehy transferred to the 15th Brigade with Pompey Elliott.
Pompey Elliott had a deep respect for Denehy. Due to his ability and war attrition, Denehy received rapid promotions which led to him being appointed Lieutenant Colonel and Temporary Commanding Officer of 58th Battalion just after the Battle Of Fromelles. In January 1917, Pompey wrote to his wife, Katie. " Tell Mrs Layh that Bert is just a picture of health, and is my right hand man, and Chas Denehy is my left hand man, and a mighty good one too'

Denehy's record of service is impressive, during May 1918 he became the Commanding Officer of the 57th Battalion and had postings to 15th Infantry Brigade HQ and 5th Division HQ.

Pompey Elliott had trained Denehy back in the old Ballarat days. When leadship was required Pompey would send Denehy to the Battalion. Denehy recalled Elliott's request,' He (Pompey) stated that he took his own old battalion, the 7th , as the standard. The 59th he considered approximated most nearly to his old battalion, but he had no hesitation in saying that the 58th (Denehy's battalion) had excelled it. He then asked me if I could, without breaking my heart, take over the 57th and make it as good as the 58th.'

By the end of the war,  Denehy had been conspicuously awarded the following;
Mentioned in Dispatches 3 times.
Awarded Distinguished Service Order and Bar
1st occasion;"For conspicuous gallantry and ability. When in command of a defence which was ceaselessly bombarded he was able, by his courage and fine example, to maintain the spirit of his men in spite of heavy losses, and later he organized and successfully carried through an attack, capturing 187 prisoners, and securing many machine guns and trench mortars."
2nd occasion;"For conspicuous gallantry during the attack on the Hinderberg line, near Bellicourt, from 29th September, to 2nd October, 1918. On 29th September the task of the Brigade was to pass through other troops who had carried out the initial attack. The latter proved unable to consolidate on their objective, and pushed his battalion forward, and under very heavy fire re-organized other troops as part of his battalion, eventually clearing up the situation. Later in the day he pushed his battalion forward, and subsequently consolidated in the Le Catelet system. Throughout the operations his able leadership was most marked."
Order of the Crown of Italy
Croix de Guerre (Belgian)

Denehy's photo taken in 1962 when he was
the highest ranking surviving WW1 veteran in Victoria
Battles covered in the book include, Gallipoli (7th Battalion), Fromelles (58th Battalion), Bullecourt, Messines, Polygon Wood, Broodsiende (Denehy was gassed), Villers-Bretonneux, Ameins (57th Battalion), Mount St Quentin, Hindenburg Line.
The book would be of valuable assistance to all family historians (especially the Battalions served), medal researchers and to those interested in the life and times of an Australian WW1 Battalion Commander. 

Click here to buy this book, Pompey Elliotts' Left Hand Man