b. 15/03/1921 Birmingham. d. 27/09/2000 Edgware, Middlesex.
John Patrick Kenneally was born as Leslie Jackson at 104 Alexandra Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham. His mother was Gertrude Nowell Robinson, the 18-year-old daughter of a Blackpool pharmacist who had been sent to live with relatives in order to conceal her son's illegitimate birth. She changed her surname to Jackson, and had her son christened Leslie. His father was a wealthy Mancunian Jewish textile manufacturer, Neville Blond, who would later become chairman of the English Stage Company and marry Elaine Marks, the Marks & Spencer heiress.
Maintenance from Blond enabled Jackson to be initially educated at the privately run Calthorpe College. He later attended Tindal Street Junior Council School and then King Edward VI Five Ways. Jackson joined the Honourable Artillery Company on his 18th birthday. He was assigned to an anti-aircraft battery and overstayed a period of leave. He was sentenced to a period of detention at Wellington Barracks, run by the Irish Guards. He was impressed by their high standards and applied for a transfer but was rejected. Jackson deserted and joined a group of itinerant Irish labourers, eventually making his way to Glasgow. When one of them returned to Ireland he obtained his identity card and used it to enlist in the Irish Guards.
On 28 April 1943 at Djebel Bou Azoukaz, Tunisia, Lance-Corporal Kenneally charged alone down the bare forward slope straight into the main body of the enemy about to make an attack, firing his Bren gun from the hip; the enemy were so surprised that they broke up in disorder. The lance-corporal repeated his exploit on 30 April when, accompanied by a sergeant, he charged the enemy forming up for assault, inflicting many casualties. Even when wounded he refused to give up, but hopped from one fire position to another, carrying his gun in one hand and supporting himself on a comrade with the other.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: IRISH GUARDS RHQ, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: ST MICHAELS/ALL ANGELS CHURCH, ROCHFORD, WORCS.
John P Kenneally's medals at the Irish Guards RHQ, London
(Picture - Thomas Stewart).
My picture of Kenneally's grave
from August 2015
St Michael's Rochford
Henry Carr painting
Certificate of Service
His first parachute jump 1947
Mr and Mrs Kenneally pictured in the 1950s
Shaking hands with a Canadian soldier on a train 1945
With comedian Tommy Trinder
Mr and Mrs Kenneally in Tipton 1944
Mrs Kenneally on the day of the announcement of John's VC
King Edward Grammar School
(Leslie Jackson is one from right on back row)