Ted Kenna VC was Australia's last surviving WWII Victoria Cross recipient until passing away just two days after his 90th Birthday. Yesterday (16 July 2009) in Melbourne a state funeral was held. Edward Kenna, known as Ted, was awarded the Army's greatest honour after risking his life to help save his platoon during a heavy machine gun attack in New Guinea on May 15, 1945.
Less than 50 metres from a Japanese machine gun crew, the then Private Kenna stood up in full view and continually fired upon the enemy gunner to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. As bullets darted between his arms and his body, Mr Kenna continued to fire and when his machine gun ran empty called for a rifle to continue his assault.
He shot the gunner dead but was fired upon from a second position as another enemy soldier tried to seize control of the machine gun. Mr Kenna remained standing and killed the man with his next round. His bravery allowed his company's attack to succeed and the enemy bunker to be captured. Three weeks later, Mr Kenna was shot in the mouth and spent more than a year recovering in hospital where he was nursed by Marjorie Rushberry, who was to become his wife of more than 60 years.
The official citation for the award of the Victoria Cross stated ‘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.'
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.
Lest We Forget
Source: AMW/Sydney Morning Herald