Biography

Birth date: 06 July 1919
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Hamilton
Death date: 08 July 2009
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Geelong
Final rank: Private
Service number: VX102142 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Unit: 2/4th Australian Infantry Battalion

Edward (Ted) Kenna was born at Hamilton, Victoria, on 6 July 1919. He completed his education in his home town before becoming a plumber. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in August 1940 and served in the 23/21st Battalion in Victoria and later in the Darwin area. In June 1943 his unit returned to Victoria before being sent to Queensland. At this point the unit was disbanded and its members allotted as reinforcements to other units. Kenna was assigned to the 2/4th Battalion and embarked for New Guinea in October 1944.

On 15 May 1945, Kenna was involved in an action near Wewak, New Guinea, during which he exposed himself to heavy fire, killing a Japanese machine gun crew and making it possible for his company's attack to succeed. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Three weeks later he was shot in the mouth and spent more than a year in hospital before being discharged from the AIF in December 1946. The following year he married Marjorie Rushbury, who had nursed him at Heidleberg Military Hospital.

After his discharge from hospital, Kenna returned to Hamilton. Proud of their Victoria Cross winner, the people of the Hamilton district raised sufficient funds to build Kenna and his wife a house which remains the family home. The Kennas had four children. After the war he worked with the local council and played Australian Rules football for the local team. He has attended many Victoria Cross reunions in London and has led the annual ANZAC Day march in Melbourne. In the 1980s Kenna had his portrait painted by Sir William Dargie and in July 2000 he was featured on a postage stamp as part of an issue commemorating Australia's living Victoria Cross winners. He died in Geelong on 8 July 2009.

Rolls and Awards

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 2/4th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection Items

Photograph

044647

TOBRUK, LIBYA, 1953. GROUP PORTRAIT OF FIVE VICTORIA CROSS WINNERS, MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND CORONATION CONTINGENT IN FRONT OF CORPORAL JACK EDMONDSON'S GRAVE IN THE TOBRUK WAR CEMETERY. THEY ARE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: PRIVATE (PTE) FRANK JOHN PARTRIDGE, PTE E. KENNA, SERGEANT (SGT)...

044647

044650

TOBRUK, LIBYA, 1953-04-25. WREATHS BEING LAID AT THE BASE OF THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL CEMETERY DURING THE ANZAC DAY CEREMONY. IN THE PHOTOGRAPH ARE FIVE VICTORIA CROSS WINNERS, MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND CORONATION CONTINGENT. LEFT TO RIGHT: PRIVATE (PTE) R. KELLIHER; SERGEANT...

044650

030414

Colombo, Ceylon. 1953. NX376 Brigadier D. A. Whitehead, CBE, DSO, MC, ED, Commanding Officer, Australia and New Zealand Coronation Contingent, photographed in his cabin aboard the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney with five Victoria Cross winners in WW2. They are: Sergeant R. R. Rattey, VC (1); Private...

030414

030424

Tobruk, Libya. 25 April 1953. Group portrait of five Victoria Cross winners, members of the Australian and New Zealand Coronation Contingent, in the Tobruk War Cemetery, during their brief stay while on their way to England to attend the coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. They are, left...

030424

081150

Group portrait of the personnel of No. 8 Platoon, A Company, 2/4th Infantry Battalion, 19th Infantry Brigade. Left to right, back row: VX140922 Lance Corporal (LCpl) A L Jones; NX8885 Private (Pte) N Irwin; QX37735 Pte F C Rayner; QX35944 Pte R M Shepherd; NX72866 Pte R R Mennie; NX16664 Corporal...

081150

096192

WIRUI MISSION, WEWAK AREA, NEW GUINEA, 1945-09-07. TOPOGRAPHICAL VIEW OF THE FEATURE WHERE PRIVATE E. KENNA VC, NO.5 SECTION, NO.8 PLATOON, 2/4 INFANTRY BATTALION EARNED THE VICTORIA CROSS ON THE 1945-05-15. THE NO.8 PLATOON LINE OF ADVANCE WAS ALONG THE RIDGE ON THE RIGHT FLANK WHERE THEY BECAME...

096192

096194

WIRUI MISSION, WEWAK AREA, NEW GUINEA, 1945-09-07. JAPANESE WEAPON PIT, ONE OF TWO, WHICH PINNED DOWN TWO SECTIONS OF NO.8 PLATOON, 2/4 INFANTRY BATTALION, ON 1945-09-07. BOTH WEAPON PITS WERE ACCOUNTED FOR BY PRIVATE E. KENNA, NO. 5 SECTION, NO. 8 PLATOON, 2/4 INFANTRY BATTALION; FOR HIS ACTION HE...

096194

096195

WIRUI MISSION, WEWAK AREA, NEW GUINEA, 1945-09-07. THE TWO FIGURES IN THIS PICTURE INDICATE THE POSITION OF SECTION NO.5, NO.8 PLATOON, 2/4 INFANTRY BATTALION, IN RELATION TO THE JAPANESE WEAPON PITS (SEE PHOTOGRAPH 96194) WHICH WERE ACCOUNTED FOR BY PRIVATE E. KENNA ON 1945-05-15. FOR HIS ACTION...

096195

096197

WIRUI MISSION, WEWAK AREA, NEW GUINEA, 1945-09-07. JAPANESE WATER COOLED .5 INCH BROWNING TYPE HEAVY MACHINE-GUN, FOUND IN ONE OF THE TWO JAPANESE WEAPON PITS WHICH PINNED DOWN TWO SECTIONS OF NO.8 PLATOON, 2/4 INFANTRY BATTALION, ON 1945-05-15. BOTH WEAPON PITS WERE ACCOUNTED FOR BY PRIVATE E....

096197

096198

WIRUI MISSION, WEWAK AREA, NEW GUINEA, 1945-09-07. JAPANESE AIR COOLED .30 INCH BROWNING TYPE MACHINE-GUN, FOUND IN ONE OF THE TWO JAPANESE WEAPON PITS WHICH PINNED DOWN TWO SECTIONS OF NO.8 PLATOON, 2/4 INFANTRY BATTALION, ON 1945-05-15. BOTH WEAPON PITS WERE ACCOUNTED FOR BY PRIVATE E. KENNA,...

096198

096199

WIRUI MISSION, WEWAK AREA, NEW GUINEA, 1945-09-07. JAPANESE AIR COOLED .5 INCH BROWNING TYPE HEAVY MACHINE-GUN, FOUND IN ONE OF THE TWO JAPANESE WEAPON PITS WHICH PINNED DOWN TWO SECTIONS OF NO.8 PLATOON, 2/4 INFANTRY BATTALION, ON 1945-05-15. BOTH WEAPON PITS WERE ACCOUNTED FOR BY PRIVATE E....

096199

096201

WIRUI MISSION, NEW GUINEA, 1945-09-07. REMAINING MEMBERS OF NO. 5 SECTION, NO. 8 PLATOON, 2/4 INFANTRY BATTALION, WHO WERE IN THE ACTION ON WIRUI MISSION FEATURES, 1945-05-15, WHEN PTE E. KENNA EARNED HIS VICTORIA CROSS. OF THE EIGHT ORIGINAL MEMBERS, THREE HAVE BEEN DISCHARGED AND PTE E. KENNA,...

096201

096202

WIRUI MISSION, NEW GUINEA, 1945-09-07. PTE J.J. KENNA, NO. 5 SECTION, NO. 8 PLATOON, 2/4 INFANTRY BATTALION, BROTHER OF PTE E. KENNA, ALSO OF NO. 5 SECTION, NO. 8 PLATOON, 2/4 INFANTRY BATTALION, WHO WON THE VICTORIA CROSS IN AN ACTION ON WIRUI MISSION FEATURES, ON 1945-05-15. PTE J. KENNA WAS IN...

096202

096203

WIRUI MISSION, NEW GUINEA, 1945-09-07. ON 1945-05-15, DURING THE ATTACK ON THE WIRUI MISSION FEATURES, TWO JAPANESE WEAPON PITS CONTAINING HEAVY MACHINE-GUNS PINNED DOWN TWO SECTIONS OF NO. 8 PLATOON, 2/4 INFANTRY BATTALION. NO. 5 SECTION APPROACHED FROM THE FRONT AND PTE E. KENNA OF THIS SECTION...

096203

114769

MELBOURNE, VIC. 1945-09-08. PRIVATE E. KENNA, 2/4TH INFANTRY BATTALION, A VICTORIA CROSS WINNER, SEATED ON HIS BED AT 115TH (HEIDELBERG) MILITARY HOSPITAL.

114769

114770

MELBOURNE, VIC. 1945-09-08. PRIVATE E. KENNA, 2/4TH INFANTRY BATTALION (2), A RECENT WINNER OF THE VICTORIA CROSS, WITH SOME OF HIS FRIENDS AT 115TH (HEIDELBERG) MILITARY HOSPITAL. IDENTIFIED PERSONNEL ARE:- SISTER M. G. SKELLY (1); WARRANT OFFICER L. A. PARTRIDGE (3); PRIVATE H. A. JENNINGS (4);...

114770

114771

MELBOURNE, VIC. 1945-09-08. MAJOR-GENERAL J. E. S. STEVENS (2), CONTRATULATING PRIVATE E. KENNA, 2/4TH INFANTRY BATTALION, FOR HIS VICTORIA CROSS AWARD, AT 115TH (HEIDELBERG) MILITARY HOSPITAL. COLONEL D. J. THOMAS, COMMANDING OFFICER 115TH (HEIDELBERG) MILITARY HOSPITAL (1) IS LOOKING ON.

114771

114773

MELBOURNE, VIC. 1945-09-08. PATIENTS AND NURSES AT 115TH (HEIDELBERG) MILITARY HOSPITAL POSE FOR THEIR PHOTOGRAPH WITH VX102142 PRIVATE (PTE) EDWARD KENNA, 2/4TH INFANTRY BATTALION, A RECENT WINNER OF THE VICTORIA CROSS, MAJOR-GENERAL (MAJ-GEN) J. E. S. STEVENS AND COLONEL D. J. THOMAS, COMMANDING...

114773

134485

C.1944. PORTRAIT OF VX102141 PRIVATE EDWARD KENNA VC, 2/4TH INFANTRY BATTALION, 6TH AUSTRALIAN DIVISION. PRIVATE KENNA WON HIS AWARD AT WEWAK, NEW GUINEA, 1945.

134485

134485A

VX102142 PRIVATE EDWARD KENNA VC, 2/4TH INFANTRY BATTALION, AIF. PRIVATE KENNA WAS AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR BRAVERY ON 1945-05-15 DURING ACTION NEAR WEWAK, NEW GUINEA. KENNA STOOD IN FULL VIEW OF THREE JAPANESE MACHINE GUN POSTS AND, WHILST UNDER HEAVY FIRE, HE PUT TWO OF THE POSTS OUT OF...

134485A

134486

C.1944. PORTRAIT OF VX102141 PRIVATE EDWARD KENNA VC, 2/4TH INFANTRY BATTALION, 6TH AUSTRALIAN DIVISION. PRIVATE KENNA WON HIS AWARD AT WEWAK, NEW GUINEA, 1945.

134486

P01895.001

TOBRUK, LIBYA. 1953-04-25. FIVE VICTORIA CROSS (VC) WINNERS, MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND CORONATION CONTINGENT PHOTOGRAPHED IN THE TOBRUK WAR CEMETERY, DURING THEIR BRIEF STAY WHILE ON THEIR WAY TO ENGLAND TO ATTEND THE CORONATION OF HER MAJESTY, QUEEN ELIZABETH II. THEY ARE, LEFT TO...

P01895.001

Art

Private Kenna winning the V.C.

Unfinished oil painting of the action that resulted in Private Edward (Ted) Kenna receiving the Victoria Cross. On 15 May 1945, Kenna was involved in an action near Wewak, New Guinea, during which he exposed himself to heavy fire, killing a Japanese machine gun crew and making it possible for his...

ART26188

Technology

Arisaka Type 38 Rifle : Private E Kenna, 2/4 Battalion, AIF

Arisaka Type 38 Rifle. This weapon is without a bolt and has been badly treated by exposure and shrapnel. The breech top is stamped with three Japanese characters and the chrysanthemum mark. The stock is cracked through the butt and is missing part of the fore end. It is fitted with a leather sling...

RELAWM24833

Browning M1921A1 Heavy Machine Gun : Private E Kenna, VC, 2/4 Battalion

Browning M1921A1 water cooled heavy machine gun. This weapon is very rusted and is without a lock. The water jacket has been punctured in several places and parts of the recoiling mechanism are missing.

RELAWM24834

Timeline

Date of birth 1919-07-06 Hamilton, VIC.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1940-08-09 Enlisted in the AIF with the rank of private. He served in the 23rd/21st Battalion.
Other units 1943-09-03 2/4th Battalion, 19th Brigade, 6th Division.
Date of embarkation 1944-10-28 2/4th Battalion embarked for New Guinea at Cairns.
Date of honour or award 1945-05-15 Awarded the Victoria Cross for action at Wewak, New Guinea whilst serving with 2/4th Battalion, 19th Brigade, 6th Division as a private. Private Kenna, with complete disregard for his own safety and without orders, placed himself directly in the enemy's line of fire so he could take out a machine gun crew. This enabled his company to capture the enemy's position.
Date of discharge 1946-02-22 Kenna returned to his home town of Hamilton, VIC.
Date of honour or award 2000-01-01 Recieved Century Medal for services to the vetran's community.
Date of death 2009-07-08