26 December 1886 – 29 June 1915:-
William was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father was a military man and when he retired from the army the family moved to Wigan, Lancashire. He followed his father working in local collieries, joining The Low Hill Collieries as a pit boy at the age of 13. He spent 10 years in the pit before deciding to pursue a military career like his dad. He served with the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in India before returning after the outbreak of the First World War.
On 25th April 1915, three companies, and the Headquarters of the 1st Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers, in effecting a landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula to the West of Cape Helles, were met by a very deadly fire from hidden machine guns which caused a great number of casualties. The survivors, however, rushed up to and cut the wire entanglements, notwithstanding the terrific fire from the enemy, and after overcoming supreme difficulties, the cliffs were gained and the position maintained. Private Kenealy was one of many men from his battalion to be awarded the VC for his actions on that day.
William was promoted to Lance Corporal and went on to fight in battles around Krithia, Turkey before being mortally wounded in the Battle for Gully Ravine on 28 June 1915. He died the next day.
His grave is in the Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Turkey where his rank is given as Lance Sergeant, although there is no record of this promotion. News of his death didn’t reach his family until October 1915, long after they had celebrated his Victoria Cross award, and after plans had been made by the local council to honour him.
His medals are held at The Fusilier Museum, Bury, Lancashire.