In Memory: Kenna passed away on July 8, 2009 in Australia
Edward "Ted" Kenna was born at Hamilton, Victoria on July 6, 1919 and was educated in his
home town before becoming a plumber. Kenna enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in August
9, 1940 and served in Victoria, Darwin and Queensland. Transferred to Company A of the 2/4th Battalion, 19th Brigade, 6th Division and embarked for New Guinea in October 1944 and fought at Wewak during April 1945.
Combat at Mission Hill, Wiruri
On May 15, 1945, while Australian forces advancing on Mission Hill above Wewak Airfield (Wiruri), Japanese weapons pits with 30 cal machine guns and riflemen that had pinned down two sections of No. 8 platoon of 2/4 Infantry Battalion and halted the entire assault.
Kenna observed where the enemy fire was coming from, but was unable to bring his Bren gun to bear high enough to hit the position. Kenna's section moved close to the enemy, while the rest of the platoon waited to attack from the flank. Less that 50 meters from the position, he stood up and fired his Bren from the hip until the magazine was empty and called for a .303 Enfield rifle. Firing off the shoulder of Pte Thomas Edward Barrett, his first shot killing one of the Japanese gunners. His second shot killed a second gunner attempting to man the same gun.
The position was then captured without further Australian casualties. Edward Kenna remarked in 2007. "It was just being in the right place at the right time". Kenna's brother, John Joseph Kenna was also a member of No. 5 section, No, 8 platoon, 2/4 Infantry Battalion and participated in the same action. [ Read Edward Kenna's Victoria Cross Citation ]
Wounded at Wewak
Three weeks later also at Wewak, he was wounded in the face and chest. His face was hit, with entry and exit holes in his cheek where a bullet ripped through flesh and then ricocheted off his teeth, reversing and entering his chest. He was evacuated to the 115th Military Hospital at Heidelberg, Australia.
While in hospital, he met Marjorie Rushberry during June 1945 and asked her to marry him. According to her in 2007: "Before he got out of the hospital he told me that he was going to marry me, the exact words were 'Do you know where Hamilton is?' I said, 'No, I don't want to know where Hamilton is'. He said, 'You should, because you're going to be living there'. Here I am 60 years on."
the AIF on February 22, 1946. He married Marjorie Rushberry and the couple returned to his home town of Hamilton. Funds were raised to build Kenna and his wife a home which remains their family home to this day.
Kenna died at age 90 in Australia on July 8, 2009. He was the last of 20 men who earned the Victoria Cross during World War II.
Memorials and Displays
After the war, a street in Wewak was named in Ted Kenna's honor. A memorial plaque at Mission Hill (Boy's Town), where he earned the Victoria Cross.
Several relics associated with Kenna are part of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) collection, including a 30 Cal Machine Gun, with a bullet hole in the jacket (RELAWM24834) and Type 38 Arisaka Rifle (RELAWM24833) recovered from the position knocked out by Pte Edward 'Ted' Kenna of 2/4 Battalion at Wiruri Mission on May 15, 1945, and action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
The Australian "It was horror at first sight when wounded VC hero crossed her path" April 26, 2007
News Au "Last Victoria Cross Winner" dies July 9, 2009