Posted by: woberto
] - (165.228.161.---)
Date: July 09, 2009 02:48AM
Tony Stephens smh.com.au July 9, 2009 - 12:14PM
Ted Kenna, the last surviving Australian winner of the Victoria Cross in World War II, died last night.
Mr Kenna earned his honour for an encounter with the Japanese near Wewak, New Guinea, on May 15, 1945, while serving as a private with the 2nd/4th Australian Infantry Battalion.
In the New Guinea action, an Australian attack had been stopped by heavy Japanese fire. Private Kenna, in a support section, was prevented from bringing his gun to bear on an enemy machine-gun bunker because of the nature of the ground.
He immediately stood in full view of the Japanese and engaged the bunker with a Bren gun, a rifle when the Bren ran out of ammunition, then a Bren again. The Japanese machine-gunners were only 50 metres away and bullets passed between the Australian's arms and body, without hitting him.
Mr Kenna continued to fire at the enemy until his ammunition was exhausted. He then discarded his Bren gun, called for his 303 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, Mr Kenna, still 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 VC 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 after the attack, Mr Kenna was taking part in a similar operation when he was hit in the mouth by an explosive bullet and evacuated. He was given the last rites twice before recovering.
His nurse at Heidelberg Military Hospital, Victoria, was Marjorie Rushberry. She nursed him for nearly a year and they married in 1947.
Mr Kenna went to London for the Queen's coronation in 1953 and was presented to her when she visited the newly-restored Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in 2000. He appeared on a postage stamp in that year.
His wife, Marje, survives him, with their three children.