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Media Release - Keith Payne VC Honoured with new VC Truck Stop Dedication

12th November 2023

Keith Payne VC Honoured with new VC Truck Stop Dedication

Judy Hannan MP has welcomed the dedication of the new rest area on the Southbound Hume Highway rest area at Pheasants Nest to the Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne VC on Monday 13 November 2023.

“The naming of rest areas along the Hume Highway for Victoria Cross recipients is a wonderful dedication and one I have supported for a long time. In 2010 I supported a motion by my colleague of the time Benn Banasik to have the rest area dedicated to a VC recipient”

“The Remembrance Drive Committee worked towards facilitating the dedication, one that was not normal due to the truck rest areas being connected to the service stations. Thankfully with some will, the first was dedicated in 2012 with the Governor, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, AC, CVO, Premier and Ministers attending.”

“The owners of the Ampol service stations have done a wonderful job at reinvigorating the space and it is fitting that with the significant changes the Kenna VC Truck rest area is to be rededicated to honour Edward Kenna VC. In addition with the Remembrance Drive Committee recommendations, the Southbound rest area is now also to be dedicated, to the living hero Keith Payne VC”

“It is a wonderful honour to have a dedication attended by the person chosen to be honoured. I am excited to have the Governor General the Honourable David Hurley, Governor of Australia, the Governor of NSW Magarget Beazley AC KC, NSW Premier, NSW Minister for Roads, NSW Minister for Transport, NSW Minister for Veterans Affairs, NSW State President Ray James OAM visit Wollondilly for this dedication. I welcome everyone to discover more about the feats each of these great men endured and what we can learn from these acts of survival, bravery and mateship that defines what Australia is today.”

“There are few electorates that have the honour of dedicated truck rest areas for a Victoria Cross Recipient. We are honoured in Wollondilly to have now three and each of these highlight sacrifice for the freedoms and opportunities we now enjoy”

Frank Partridge VC

The Partridge VC rest area at Menangle was dedicated in 2003, honouring Frank Partridge VC the youngest and final recipient of the Victoria Cross in the Second World War.

Frank Partridge VC was a conscript of the Australian Army called to service in December 1942. As a private for the 8th Battalion, a militia formed in Victoria and was sent to New Guinea and served as part of the Bouganville campaign in June 1945.

Working to contain the Japanese forces on the Bonis Peninsula. On the 24 July two platoons attacked the Japanese Post known as Base 5. Under heavy machine gun fire, Frank Partridge’s unit was suffering heavy casualties including their Bren Gunner. Taking the weapon despite being under fire and wounded in the arm and leg, Frank Partridge fired at the nearest bunker then rushed towards it with a grenade and knife silencing the machine gun post before using his knife to kill the last remaining enemy combatant. The action allowed the platoon to withdraw without casualties or falling under enemy capture.

Edward Kenna VC

The Kenna VC rest area at the Northbound Pheasants Nest Mobil station was first dedicated in 2012 and will be rededicated Monday 13 November 2023.

Edward Kenna VC, or "Ted" as he was popularly known as, served in the Australian Citizen Military Forces from August 1940. When called up for full service in 1941, Edward Kenna volunteered for the AIF and in 1944 embarked for New Guinea. Edward Kenna received his Victoria Cross as part of a task to take enemy positions in the South West Pacific in 1945.

When ordered forward to deal with a machine gun post, Edward Kenna's platoon suffered casualties. Edward Kenna attempted engaging the bunker but was unable due to the lay of the land. Without orders and on his own initiative Edward Kenna stood in full view of the enemy less than fifty yards away firing his Bren gun from the hip. Edward Kenna came under fire from the enemy so much so that bullets passed between his arms and his body.

Without hesitation Edward Kenna remained exposed and continued to fire until he was out of ammunition, he called for a rifle and despite the machine gun fire he managed to shoot the machine gunner with his first round.

A further enemy moved into position behind the first machine gun but Edward Kenna remained standing and killed him with his very next round. Due to Edward Kenna's actions and bravery no further losses were incurred and the bunker was captured along with numerous automatic weapons.

Keith Payne VC

Keith Payne VC joined the Australian Army in 1951 and served in the Korean War from April 1952 until March 1953 then in Malaya in 1965, Papua New Guinea in 1967, Vietnam in 1969 where his actions saw him awarded the Victoria Cross.

Serving as a Commander of the 212th Company of the 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion the unit was attacked by the North Vietnamese People’s Army force near Ben Het Camp. The company became isolated and was at risk from surrounding as the Vietnamese forces approached from three sides. Withdrawing under fire a grenade struck and hit Keith Payne with shrapnel in his arms, legs and skull.

Despite injury Payne covered the withdrawal, organising the troops defensively and disregarding his wound and returning to the battlefield for a further three hours searching for any remaining members of the unit. Locating 40 wounded soldiers he assisted with the wounded and led the party through an area dominated by enemy forces.

Due to his actions he was awarded the VC and is the last living member of the original recipients of the Imperial Victoria Cross.