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Ted Kenna, VC

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Always known as Ted, Edward Kenna was born in 1919 at Hamilton, Victoria. He loved sports. He left school at 14 to become a plumber and look after his mother when his father fell ill. At the beginning of World War II, he joined Citizen Military Forces then enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces.

Australians fought with Britain, the Commonwealth and America to end the Nazi-Fascist threat to life and liberty and to prevent the Japanese from invading Australia. Ted Kenna's most gallant hours came on May 15th, 1945.

Private Kenna's platoon was ordered forward to deal with Japanese machine-gun posts in New Guinea. Kenna moved his support section as close as possible to the bunkers in order to provide covering fire for a flank attack.

The platoon attacked, but was pinned down with heavy automatic fire. 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. With several of the men already wounded, on his own initiative and without orders, Kenna stood up in full view of the enemy less than 50 yards away and engaged the bunker, firing his Bren gun from the hip. Fire was returned at once, bullets passing between his arms and his body but somehow missing him.

Undeterred, Kenna continued to fire at the enemy until his ammunition was exhausted. He then discarded his Bren gun, called for a rifle and despite intense machine-gun fire killed the enemy gunner with his first round.

When a machine gun opened up on him from a second position, Kenna, who had remained standing, killed the gunner with his next round. The bunker was captured without further loss, the company attack went forward and the enemy position was carried.

The citation for his Victoria Cross declared: "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."

Three weeks later Ted was shot in the mouth and spent more than a year in hospital. After he recovered from his injuries, he married his nurse, Marje Rushberry.

Ted and millions of others had won peace throughout the world. The threat of Japanese invasion was ended. In gratitude, Ted's home town built a house for him and Marje. They had two sons and two daughters, and Ted became curator of the Melville Oval. He died on July 8th aged 90.

Farewell!

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