Thomas James Bede Kenny (always known as ‘Bede’) was the son of a nursing sister. Registering his occupation as a chemist when he enlisted aged 19, Bede was assigned to 13th Reinforcements 2nd Battalion, which left Australia on 20 December 1915. Arriving in Egypt in February, he finally reached France in August 1916 where he served with 1st Division on the Somme for the remainder of the year.
In April 1917 he took part in one of the battles of the ‘outlying villages’, following the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in the early spring of 1917. Bede’s action took place near the village of Hermies. Bede was awarded the Victoria Cross for ‘conspicuous gallantry’ and bravery and returned home to Australia in October 1918 to a hero’s welcome.