52763 Field Secretary Thomas Richard Aulben Kenner, New Zealand YMCA
Unique NZ YMCA Victory Medal
The unique Victory Medal officially issued to Thomas Richard Aulben Kenner, Field Secretary of the New Zealand YMCA, who was wounded in the course of his duties in France.
Thomas Kenner was born 7th October 1885 at Emu Bay, Tasmania, Australia. Son of Thomas and Agnes Kenner (née Onions). Thomas appears to have come to New Zealand around in 1914, marrying Olice Isabel Fosdick in 1915. It appears Thomas was rejected for service with the NZEF, presumably on medical grounds. This didn't stop his desire to servce, and he volunteered for the YMCA. He was working as a journalist in Auckland, principally for the Auckland Star newspaper, when he embarked as the YMCA Field Secretary with the 22nd Reinforcements on H.M.N.Z.T. 77 (Mokoia) in April 1917. He was mentioned in the Nomad, the troopship magazine published for the voyage, as promoting concerts, lectures, tournaments, debates etc. He was described 'as a real friend to the men'.
Thomas Kenner served in London, in one of the 'Red Triangle' Huts of the YMCA before deploying to France sometime around October 1917. He was attached to a New Zealand howitzer battery, moving in support of the troops whenever the battery moved. In March 1918 Thomas was wounded by an artillery shell, suffering shrapnel wounds to his head. These wounds proved to be fairly minor, and he was soon back at his busy task of ministering aid to the troops behind the line. He was attested into the NZEF in August 1918, and returned to New Zealand in 1919 for discharge.
In 1953, with the anticipated arrival of the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth II, Kenner advised the New Zealand Defence Department that he had lost his British War Medal, and desired replacement of this. He also enquired about a Victory Medal, and it was acknowledged that he had never received one. It was determined that he should have been issued a Victory Medal, and a medal was subsequently named and forwarded to him.
Thomas Kenner died in Auckland on 16th May 1963 and is buried in Purewa Cemetery.
Kenner's Victory Medal is a unique award, in that YMCA Field Secretaries did not qualify for the Victory Medal in a decision made in 1921, so in issuing a medal in 1954, the NZDF overuled this criteria and officially issued a medal to Kenner. No other NZYMCA Field Secretary received such a medal.
The medal is correctly impressed (52763 Y.M.C.A. SETY. T.R.A. KENNER).