McKenna, Justin Morell

He was the son of Theodore McKenna and Ethel, daughter of Sir Morell McKenzie. Sir Morell McKenzie founded the world’s first hospital for throat diseases and was one of the doctors treating Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia in 1887 for what turned out to be throat cancer.   The Crown Prince died the following year. After four years at West Downs McKenna entered Mr. Fort’s House in 1909. He left in 1913 for a year’s study in France and would have gone up to University College, Oxford in October 1914.

He volunteered for service a few days before the outbreak of war, and in the middle of September received a commission in the 9th Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He went to France in May 1915 as machine gun officer to the battalion, and a month later was wounded while choosing a position for his guns. While on sick leave he entered the Slade School of Art and had he survived the war he would have made art his profession.

After a few months light duty with the Army Service Corps, he was passed fit and transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, joining 11th Squadron in France in September 1917. On October 2nd 1917 his squadron, while returning from a long-distance raid, was attacked by seven enemy aeroplanes over Wasnes-au-Bac, near Cambrai. His aeroplane was cut off from the remainder of the squadron and was engaged by the whole enemy patrol. During the action that ensued four of the enemy aeroplanes were brought down and it was half an hour before the remaining three succeeded in destroying the single British machine, which fell behind enemy lines.

McKenna and his observer, 2nd Lieutenant Sutcliffe, were buried with full military honours, a large number of enemy airmen attending. The German Squadron Commander paid a tribute to the gallantry of the two officers at their graveside and it was by his instructions that a British prisoner of war, who witnessed the engagement, sent a report of it to the War Office on his return from Germany.

War: World War 1

  • Surname: McKenna
  • Forenames or initials: Justin Morell
  • House: B
  • Years in School: 1909-1913
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Regiment: Royal Flying Corps
  • Date of Birth: 14th January 1896
  • Date of Death: 2nd October 1917
  • How Died: Killed in action
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer F2
  • Decoration: NA