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  • Christina Drummond

Lieutenant William David Kenny V.C., 4th Battalion, 39th Garhwal Rifles, British India Army

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1920, Lieutenant William David Kenny V.C., 4th Battalion, 39th Garhwal Rifles, British India Army, was killed in action near Kot Kai, Waziristan.

The eldest of three children, he was the son of a constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary. He had been commissioned into the army on the 31st of August, 1918, and promoted to Lieutenant a year later.

For his actions on the day of his death he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The citation tells the story: “For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty near Kot Kai (Waziristan), on the 2 January, 1920, when in command of a company holding an advanced covering position, which was repeatedly attacked by the 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 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. This very gallant act of self-sacrifice not only enabled the wounded to be withdrawn, but also averted a situation which must have resulted in considerable loss of life.” He is memorialised on the India Gate (originally the All India War Memorial) astride the Rajpath, on the eastern edge of the ceremonial axis of New Delhi in India.

William, from Saintfield, County Down, was 20 years old.

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