Honour set in stone for war hero’s efforts

The lasting legacy of a war hero has been unveiled in his home village.

Victoria Cross winner Private Thomas Kenny was recognised for his ‘conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty’ when carrying an injured officer through No Man’s Land while under enemy fire during the First World War.

Great-granddaughter of Thomas Kenny, Patricia Shaw and family members at the commemorative stone. Picture by FRANK REID

Great-granddaughter of Thomas Kenny, Patricia Shaw and family members at the commemorative stone. Picture by FRANK REID

A commemorative stone is now in place in Wheatley Hill Cemetery after a ceremony which brought together more than 50 members of his family.

They were joined by Councillor Jan Blakey, the chairman of Durham County Council, and Sue Snowdon, Lord Lieutenant of County Durham.

The stone is the first of seven to be laid across County Durham during the next three years in a national project, with the Wheatley Hill ceremony funded by East Durham AAP, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Then and Now Programme and the village’s parish council.

Coun Jan Blakey said: “Thomas Kenny was an extremely brave man and a deserved recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Thomas Kenny was an extremely brave man and a deserved recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Councillor Jan Blakey

“It is only right and fitting that he should be honoured in the community he returned to after the First World War.”

Pte Kenny, from South Wingate, was a miner when he enlisted in 1914 to the 13th (Service) Battalion DLI, arriving in Boulogne in August 1915.

He received his VC from King George V at Buckingham Palace and went back to work at Wingate Colliery and then Wheatley Hill.

On returning home, he was greeted by villagers who presented him with £50 in war bonds, while children from his old school, Wingate Catholic School, recited a poem written for him.

Information stand in Wheatley Hill Cemetery with details about Thomas Kenny VC. Picture by FRANK REID

Information stand in Wheatley Hill Cemetery with details about Thomas Kenny VC. Picture by FRANK REID

Present day pupils from the school, now known as St Mary’s RCVA School, read the same poem at the unveiling of the commemorative paving stone.

There were also readings by Father Kenneth Crawford, Chaplain to the Durham Light Infantry Association and local parish priest Father Ian Jackson.

More about Pte Kenny’s story can be found via www.durhamatwar.org.uk/story/11173/.

Pupils from Wellfield Community School at the Thomas Kenny VC service of dedication. Picture by FRANK REID

Pupils from Wellfield Community School at the Thomas Kenny VC service of dedication. Picture by FRANK REID

Family members and friends of Thomas Kenny shed a tear during the service of dedication. Picture by FRANK REID

Family members and friends of Thomas Kenny shed a tear during the service of dedication. Picture by FRANK REID

St Mary's RCVA School Wingate pupils Lucy Bateman (left) and Amelia Clarke with Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham Sue Snowdon (left) and The Chairman of Durham County Council, Cllr Jan Blakey. Picture by FRANK REID

St Mary's RCVA School Wingate pupils Lucy Bateman (left) and Amelia Clarke with Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham Sue Snowdon (left) and The Chairman of Durham County Council, Cllr Jan Blakey. Picture by FRANK REID

Standard bearers from the Durham Light Infantry Association lower their standards. Picture by FRANK REID

Standard bearers from the Durham Light Infantry Association lower their standards. Picture by FRANK REID

Great-granddaughter of Thomas Kenny, Patricia Shaw and family members at the commemorative stone. Picture by FRANK REID

Great-granddaughter of Thomas Kenny, Patricia Shaw and family members at the commemorative stone. Picture by FRANK REID