2722925 John KENNEALLY, VC, 1 Irish Guards

Discussion in 'The Brigade of Guards' started by dbf, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. dbf

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    From Times Online, September 28, 2000

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    From The Glasgow Herald, August 18, 1943:

    Guardsman V.C. Routed German Companies Single-Handed

    An Irish Guardsman who single-handed attacked massed bodies of the enemy in Tunisia and broke up their attacks, has been awarded the Victoria Cross. He is Lance-Corporal John Patrick Kenneally (2722925) of Tipton, Staffs.

    The Bou feature dominates all ground east and west between MEDJEZ EL BAB and TEBOURBA. It was essential to the final assault on Tunis that this feature should be captured and held. A Guards brigade assaulted and captured a portion of the Bou on April 27, 1943.

    The IRISH GUARDS held on to points 212 and 214 on the western end of the feature, which points the Germans frequently counter-attacked. While a further attack to capture the complete feature was being prepared, it was essential for the Irish Guards to hold on. They did.

    On April 28, positions held by one company of the Irish Guards on the ridge between points 212 and 214 were about to be subjected to an attack by the enemy. Approximately one company of the enemy were seen forming up preparatory to attack, and Lance-Corporal Kenneally decided that this was the right moment to attack them himself.

    Single-handed, he charged down the bare forward slope straight at the main enemy body, firing his Bren gun from the hip as he did so. This outstanding act of gallantry, and the dashing with which it was executed, completely unbalanced the enemy company, which broke up in disorder. Lance-Corporal Kenneally then returned to the crest further to harass their retreat.

    Lance-Corporal Kenneally repeated this remarkable exploit on the morning of April 30, 1943, when, accompanied by a sergeant of the Reconnaissance Corps, he again charged the enemy forming up for an assault. This time he so harassed the enemy, inflicting many casualties, that the projected attack was frustrated. The enemy’s strength was again about one company.

    It was only when he was noticed hopping from one fire position to another farther to the left to support another company, carrying his gun in one hand and supporting himself on a Guardsman with the other, that it was discovered he had been wounded. He refused to give up his Bren gun, claiming that he was the only one who understood that gun, and continued to fight all through that day with great courage, devotion to duty, and disregard for his own safety.

    The magnificent gallantry of this N.C.O. on these two occasions under heavy fire and his unfailing vigilance and remarkable accuracy were responsible for saving many valuable lives during the days and nights in the forward positions. His actions also played a considerable part in holding those positions, and this influenced the whole course of the battle. His rapid appreciation of the situation, his initiative, and his extraordinary gallantry in attacking single-handed a massed body of the enemy and breaking up an attack on two occasions were an achievement that can seldom have been equalled. His courage in fighting all day when wounded was an inspiration to all ranks.

    Lance-Corporal Kenneally’s V.C. is the 73rd of the war and the 13th of the North African campaign. Seven of the North African awards were posthumous, and all but 3 of the 13 were to Army personnel.

    Kenneally VC.png
  3. dbf

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    From The Pittsburgh Press, August 18. 1943

    One-Man Offensive Wins Britain’s Highest Award
    Solider in Irish Guards Charges Nazi Companies Single-Handed in Tunisian Campaign

    By William H. Stoneman
    Copyright, 1943, by The Pittsburgh Press and The Chicago Daily News, Inc.

    LONDON, August 18. -
    One of the most fantastic tales of heroism in the history of the British Army was unfolded today with the announcement that one John Patrick KENNEALLY, 22-year-old lance corporal in the IRISH GUARDS, had been awarded the coveted Victoria Cross.

    Twice, on two separate days in late April, Corporal Kenneally did what not one soldier in a million would ever have been expected to do: He charged down a bare slope north-east of MEDJEZ-EL-BAB in Tunisia to attack an entire company of German infantry.

    Nazis Flee in Disorder
    The first exploit came on April 28, when the Irish Guards are clinging desperately to a ridge on a so-called “bou”, a rolling hill lying to the right of the main road between Medjez-el-Bab and Tebourba. The Guards, who had suffered heavily in taking the height, were ordered to stay there until a further attack could be organised.

    The “bou” had to be held completely before the main Allied assault on Tunis could begin.

    The Germans were seen forming up for a counter-attack when Corporal Kenneally, acting without orders, suddenly jumped up and went charging toward the enemy, firing his light Bren machine-gun from the hip. The Germans were so flabbergasted by the sight of the wild man from Tipperary that they broke up in disorder.

    Repeats Manoeuvre
    Pleased by his success, Corporal Kenneally tried the same thing two days later, this time accompanies by one other spirited character. He again threw a German company into confusion, leaving a string of Germans in his wake, and then proceeded to another position to help his fellow guardsmen to break up another German formation.

    By this time he was hopping around on one leg, leaning on his comrade for support.

    Despite orders from his superiors to return to the rear, Corporal Kenneally insisted on staying in action with his pet Bren gun for the rest of the day.

    Witnesses Battle
    Whiel all this was going on, the slopes of the “bou” were boiling with shell and mortar fire and from where we correspondents sat just across the valley it looked as though nobody could live in the neighbourhood.

    [Mr. Stoneman, who accompanied the invasion forces to North Africa last November, covered the entire campaign until the fall of Tunisia.]

    Corporal Kenneally is the second Celt to be awarded within a week the Victoria Cross for gallantry in Tunisia on April 27. The other award was given posthumously to Lieutenant Lord LYEEL of the SCOTS GUARDS for heroism at DJEBEL-BOU-ARARA, where, single-handed, he wiped out a German machine-gun crew and attacked and put out of action an 88mm gun before being killed.

    Kenneally1.png Kenneally2.png Kenneally3.png
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    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
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    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
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    Sergeant's Mess, Hamburg, c. 1946/7
    Rear Row: D/Sgt 'Pinkie' Stewart , CSM Samuel 'Maxi' McComish MM, C/Sgt John Kenneally VC, P/Maj Reggie Batt
    Front Row: Cooper?, RSM Teddy Nye, Martin Campbell, CSM Des Lynch DCM.

    Last edited: May 3, 2021
  7. dbf

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    The Honour and the Shame, John Kenneally
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  10. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Screenshot 2021-05-03 at 17.08.11.jpeg
    The Illustrated London News 25th August 1943
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