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 Rushberry, 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.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Recommended for: Victoria Cross
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Victoria Cross
  • Unit: 2/4th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection Items

Photograph

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