William David Kenny VC

b. 01/02/1899 Saintfield, Ireland. d. 02/01/1920 Kot Kai, India.

William David Kenny (1899-1920) was born on 1st February 1899 in Saintfield, County Down, Ireland and he was the eldest child of John Joseph and Miriam Martha Kenny (nee Newton) who were married on 11th November 1896 in St Nicholas’s Parish Church of Ireland Church Carrickfergus.  John Joseph Kenny from Saintfield was a son of William Kenny, a farmer.  Miriam Martha Newton. A domestic servant from Green Street, Carrickfergus was a daughter of George Frederick Newton, a sea-captain. William was the oldest of three children with a sister Georgina Maria (born 1900) and brother Gerald Henry (born 1902).

William D Kenny VC

John Joseph Kenny was a Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary and for a time he was stationed in Donaghadee.  Before that the family lived in the townland of Glenloughan, Scarva, Co Down and in Library Lane, Banbridge.

William David Kenny was commissioned into the Indian Army as a Second Lieutenant on 31st August 1918 and he was posted to the 4th Battalion 39th Garhwal Rifles. A year later he was promoted Lieutenant and was killed in action on 2nd January 1920 during the Waziristan campaign. For this action, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

On 2nd January 1920 at Kot Kai, India, for over four hours, Lieutenant Kenny maintained his position, repulsing three determined attacks, being foremost in the hand-to-hand fighting which took place, and repeatedly engaging the enemy with bomb and bayonet. His gallant leadership undoubtedly saved the situation and kept intact the right flank, on which depended the success of the operation and the safety of the troops in rear.

In the subsequent withdrawal, recognising that a diversion was necessary to enable the withdrawal of the company, which was impeded by their wounded, with a handful of his men he turned back and counter-attacked the pursuing enemy, and, with the rest of his party, was killed fighting to the last.

His VC was gazetted on 9th September 1920, and his parents were invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 2nd November 1920. On 6th May 1998, his VC, British War Medal 1914-20, and India General Service Medal 1908-35 with three clasps for Afghanistan 1919, Mahsud 1919-20 and Waziristan 1919-21 were sold at auction at Spinks, London for a hammer price of £52,000. They were purchased by Michael Ashcroft and are displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London.