Edward Kenna VC
6 July 1919 – 8 July 2009
ZUI this article from The Telegraph:
Ted Kenna, who died on July 8 aged 90, won the Victoria Cross on May 15 1945 while serving with the 2nd/4th Australian Infantry Battalion in the South West Pacific. He was the last surviving Australian VC recipient of the Second World War.
Edward Kenna, always known as Ted, was born on July 6 1919 at Hamilton, Victoria, the fourth child of a family of seven. He went to St Mary's Convent, Hamilton, but left at 14 and worked as a plumber to look after his mother when his father fell ill. He was an accomplished sportsman and a keen cyclist and sportsman.
Kenna served in the Citizen Military Forces before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Forces in 1940. He served initially in the 23rd/21st Battalion but was posted to the 2nd/4th in 1943. In October 1944 he embarked from Cairns with his unit bound for New Guinea.
In June 1945, three weeks after the attack on the Wirui Mission feature, Kenna was taking part in a similar operation when he was hit in the mouth by an explosive bullet and evacuated. When told he was likely to die he simply exclaimed: "Pigs". But he recovered and in December 1946 he was discharged.
Ted Kenna married, in 1947, Marje Rushberry, who had nursed him in hospital. They had two sons and two daughters, one of whom predeceased him.
There are now nine surviving VC holders:
WO Tul Bahadur Pun VC, 6th Gurkha Rifles - Burma, 1944
Flt Lt John A Cruickshank VC, RAFVR - North Atlantic, 1944
Hav Lachhiman Gurung VC, 8th Gurkha Rifles - Burma, 1945
Sgt William Speakman VC, The Black Watch - Korea, 1951
Capt Ram Bahadur Limbu VC MVO, 10th Gurkha Rifles - Borneo, 1965
WO Keith Payne VC OAM, Australian Army - Vietnam, 1969
Pte Johnson G Beharry VC, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment - Iraq, 2004
Cpl Bill H Apiata VC, New Zealand SAS - Afghanistan, 2004
Tpr Mark G S Donaldson VC, Australian SAS - Afghanistan, 2008
Private, 2/4 Australian Infantry Battalion, Australian Military Forces
Born: 6 July 1919, Hamilton, Victoria, Australia
Died: 8 July 2009, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Citation: In the South West Pacific at Wewak on 15th May, 1945, during the attack on the Wirui Mission features, Private Kenna's company had the task of capturing certain enemy positions. The only position from which observation for supporting fire could be obtained was continuously swept by enemy heavy machine gun fire and it was not possible to bring Artillery or Mortars into action.
Private Kenna's platoon was ordered forward to deal with the enemy machine gun post, so that the company operation could proceed. His section moved as close as possible to the bunker in order to harass any enemy seen, so that the remainder of the platoon could attack from the flank. When the attacking sections came into view of the enemy they were immediately engaged at very close range by heavy automatic fire from a position not previously disclosed. Casualties were suffered and the attackers could not move further forward.
Private Kenna endeavoured to put his Bren gun into a position where he could engage the bunker, but was unable to do so because of the nature of the ground. On his own initiative and without orders Private Kenna immediately stood up in full view of the enemy less than fifty yards away and engaged the bunker, firing his Bren gun from the hip. The enemy machine gun immediately returned Private Kenna's fire and with such accuracy that bullets actually passed between his arms and his body. Undeterred, he remained completely exposed and continued to fire at the enemy until his magazine was exhausted. Still making a target of himself, Private Kenna discarded his Bren gun and called for a rifle. Despite the intense machine gun fire, he seized the rifle and, with amazing coolness, killed the gunner with his first round.
A second automatic opened fire on Private Kenna from a different position and another of the enemy immediately tried to move into position behind the first machine gun, but Private Kenna remained standing and killed him with his next round.
The result of Private Kenna's magnificent bravery in the face of concentrated fire, was that the bunker was captured without further loss, and the company attack proceeded to a successful conclusion, many enemy being killed and numerous automatic weapons captured.
There is no doubt that the success of the company attack would have been seriously endangered and many casualties sustained but for Private Kenna's magnificent courage and complete disregard for his own safety. His action was an outstanding example of the highest degree of bravery.
[London Gazette issue 37253 dated 6 Sep 1945, dated 4 Sep 1945.]