b. 06/07/1919 Hamilton, Australia. d. 08/07/2009 Geelong, Australia.
Kenna served in the Citizen Military Forces (part time militia forces) from August 1940 and was allotted service number V55955. In December 1941, the Citizen Military Forces were called up for full time service for the duration of the war. In June 1942, Kenna volunteered for the AIF and was allotted new service number VX102142. He 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.
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.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: SOLD AT AUCTION FOR $678,000 IN JULY 2011.
BURIAL PLACE: HAMILTON LAWN CEMETERY, HAMILTON, AUSTRALIA.
Edward Kenna VC's grave (unknown source)
Anzac Park, Townsville, Queensland
His medals just before their sale at auction
Australian War Memorial (Memorials to Valour)