Colour-Sergeant McKenna was born at Leeds, England, on 15 February 1827, and was 36 years old, and a Colour-Sergeant in the 65th Regiment (later the York and Lancaster Regiment), British Army, during the Waikato-Hauhau Maori War, New Zealand, when the action for which he was awarded The Victoria Cross took place.
"On 7 September 1863 near Camerontown, New Zealand, after both his officers had been shot, Colour-Sergeant McKenna, with a small force, heavily outnumbered by the enemy, charged through their position with the loss of one man killed and one missing. The colour-sergeant's coolness and intrepidity amply justified the confidence placed in him by the soldiers brought so suddenly under his command."
Colour-Sergeant McKenna later achieved the rank of Ensign.
He died at Palmerston North, New Zealand, on 8 June 1908, and is buried at the Terrace End Cemetery, Palmerston North, New Zealand.
His Victoria Cross is held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland, New Zealand.
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