Francis was the son of Francis Tinneny
and Annie Dolan of Belturbet County Cavan, Ireland. When
World War I broke out he enlisted in the Enniskillen Fusiliers of
the British Army. He was only 15 years old when he enlisted
and had to lie about his age since the minimum age for enlistment
was 16. He served with the Royal Engineers from April 12,
1915 through August 14, 1919. He fought in the Battle of the
Somme in France.