Kenny VC, William David

Kenny, William David (William)

Victoria Cross


4th Battalion, 39th Garhwal Rifles

Killed in action on Friday, 2 January 1920 (aged 20)


Jandola Cemetery, India (Grave 5)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Delhi Memorial (India Gate), India (Face 31)

Donaghadee and District War Memorial

Donaghadee Parish Church of Ireland Church

Memorial Plaque in the Marine Gardens, Donaghadee


William David Kenny was born on 1 February 1899 in Saintfield and he was the eldest child of John Joseph and Miriam Martha Kenny (nee Newton) who were married on 11 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.

John Joseph and Miriam Martha Kenny (nee Newton) had three children:

William David Kenny (born on 1 February 1899 in Saintfield)

Georgina Martha (born 29 November 1900 in Scarva)

Gerald Henry (born 22 April 1902 in Library Lane, Banbridge)

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 31 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 2 January 1920 during the Waziristan campaign.

Lieutenant William David Kenny was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

His VC was presented to Lieutenant Kenny’s father by the King at Buckingham Palace on 2 November 1920.

An extract from the Third Supplement to the London Gazette dated 7 September 1920 records the following: ‘For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty near Kot Kai (Waziristan) on the 2nd January 1920, when in command of a company holding an advanced covering position, which was repeatedly attacked by Mahsuds in greatly superior numbers. For over four hours this officer 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 operations 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. This very gallant act of self-sacrifice not only enabled the wounded to be withdrawn but also averted a situation which must have resulted in considerable loss of life.’

Lieutenant William David Kenny VC is commemorated on Donaghadee and District War Memorial; in Donaghadee Parish Church of Ireland Church and on a Memorial Plaque in the Marine Gardens, Donaghadee.

Lieutenant William David Kenny’s Victoria Cross is on display in the National Army Museum, Chelsea.