Wallace Kenney

Wallace George Bruce Kenney (1913-1962)

Wallace George Bruce Kenney was the youngest of three children of Alexander Bruce Kenney & Minnie Matilda Williams, although their oldest child, William Thomas James, died as an infant. Wallace was born on 29 Dec 1913 in Trafalgar, about 6 km from the centre of Kalgoolie, Western Australia. His father was killed in 1917 on the Front in France.

Wallace became a well-known footballer, and had his fair share of behaviour problems. Two reports were published of a fight he was involved in:

The Daily News, Mon 28 Mar 1938:


On charges of disorderly conduct by fighting, 21-year-old Patrick Joseph Keaneally and 24-year-old Wallace George Bruce Kenny were cautioned by Mr. H. J. Craig, S.M., in Fremantle Police Court today.

Constable Dods said that he was attracted to the corner of William and High streets on Saturday night by a large crowd which had congregated outside the Town Hall.

He saw Kenneally, who was being [held by] another man, attempt to strike Kenny. Constable Harper gave evidence that he saw Kenneally and Kenny in holts.

Kenny, who denied the charge, said he was endeavoring to stop the fight and did not strike a blow. Kenneally admitted the charge. Defendants were each ordered to pay 1s costs.

The West Australian, Tue 29 Mar 1938:

Fined for Fighting.—Charged with having been disorderly by fighting in High-street. Fremantle, on Saturday night, Patrick Joseph Kenneally (23) and Wallace George Bruce Kenny (24) were cautioned and ordered to pay 1/ costs each. Constable Dods said that about 10.15 p.m. on Saturday he saw a crowd of people at the Fremantle Town Hall corner. Both the accused were in fighting attitudes and witness arrested them. Constable Harper said that blows were exchanged by both men. Kenneally admitted the charge, but Kenny, who pleaded not guilty, said that he had previously separated two men and warned them that their actions might cost them £2. He claimed that someone struck him as he was walking away and it was after he returned that he was arrested.

In the photo below, Wallace is back row, third from left. The man on the right at the back is J Feeney, who married Minnie Kenney.


Wallace enlisted in the army on 18 Oct 1940 at Claremont, Western Australia (Service Number – WX8532). The family believe he was taken prisoner-of-war within days of disembarking. He survived the war and was discharged from the 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion on 08 Mar 1946. The family recall him jumping off the boat before it docked, though we have not yet located the report in the papers of this event.

Wallace became engaged to Josephine (Poppy) Chalsty in 1939 (announced in the Sunday Times on Sun 19 Nov 1939) and married in June 1940; going by a comment she made in a letter she sent while he was a prisoner, Wallace had persuaded her to marry prior to his subsequent enlistment, and she had argued against doing so.

The Sunday Times, Sunday 9 June 1940:

ST. JOHN’S Church, Fremantle was chosen for the wedding of Josephine, eldest daughter of Mr. Mrs. Chalsty, of Fremantle, to Wallace, only son of Mrs. and the late Mr. Bruce Kenney, of North Fremantle. Cannon Collick officiated, and the bride, who was given away by her father, wore an Edwardian gown of white satin, trimmed with lace. Her veil had been loaned by the bridegroom’s cousin, and she carried a bouquet of roses. Misses Amy Chalsty and Rene Kenney were bridesmaids, frocked alike in mauve shot taffeta, with full flared skirts and short puffed sleeves. Halos of flowers held tulle veils to their hair, and they carried bouquets of roses and violets. Messrs Will Thornet and Jim Whims attended the bridegroom. A reception was held at Adelaide House, Fremantle, Mrs. Chaisty receiving and wearing a navy ensemble with matching accessories.

The marriage survived just the few months leading up to his enlistment. From The Mirror, Sat 8 Nov 1947:

Ex-Goalie Says Wife Left ‘Team’

Dart that Cupid fired into the heart of Wallace George Bruce Kenney, erstwhile East Fremantle goal keeper, was tipped with bitterness. For while Wally was a POW in the hands of the Japs, wife Josephine evidently decided that the few short months they’d had together was all she wanted of the marriage.

Yet all the while Tojo was directing place kicks at Wally and his co-prisoners, Wally was under the impression that the home fires burned brightly on.

Homecoming he’d looked forward to for so long fell flat when, he said, Josephine didn’t turn up to meet him in October, 1945.

But while he was in Hollywood Hospital, the news came through that there was some mail at Claremont which had been returned to Australia following Jap refusal to distribute it among the prisoners. In it was a letter from Josephine which, he said, with what he’d heard, convinced him that his marriage was a flop. He made no effort to track down Josephine.

And when he did eventually see her he told her he was going for a divorce. Said Wally, “She seemed quite happy about it.”

So Kenney, a storeman living at Fraser-st, East Fremantle, made tracks to lawyer Neil Graham’s office, communicated the facts  and waited for divorce machinery to get moving.

He produced the fateful letter for Chief Justice Sir John Dwyer’s perusal and it looked as though he’d really kicked a goal. But the CJ couldn’t consider the letter proof of desertion because, he said, Josephine Kenney had merely written that she was going away, which wasn’t proof that she’d actually gone. Accordingly, the case was adjourned for further evidence.

The West Australian, Fri 21 Nov 1947:

NISI PRIUS.—At 10.30 am., before the Chief Justice: … Wallace George Bruce Kenny v. Josephine Kenny (part heard).

His application was denied, as outlined in the paper a year and a half later, on Sat 28 May 1949:


Love, they say, makes the world go round. That doesn’t mean that love has to go round, too, although there appears a tendency in that direction.

Josephine Kenney seems to have taken on the new before she was off with the old. This was the gist of a note she wrote to hubby Wallace George Bruce Kenney, when he was a POW way back in 1943.

“Dear Wal,” scribed Josephine: ‘As I told you, we should not have got married before you went away … I have met someone else and I am going away with him. I just can’t help myself and although this will hurt you terribly I am sure it will be the best in the long run.”

Wal Kenney didn’t get the note until he was repatriated home in October, 1945. It was held here pending his return. And when he got it he bowled straight up to where Jo was living with her mother, in McCourt-St., Leederville.

Washed Up

So far as she was concerned, repeated Josephine, the marriage was washed up. So Wal had nothing left but to ask a Divorce Judge to give him his freedom from the 1940 marriage. First time he tried, in 1947 the Chief Justice knocked him back on the grounds that Josephine’s desertion didn’t commence until Wal had returned to Australia. When he tried again this session, Wal Kenney got his decree from Mr. Justice Walker. Because Kenney, who lives in Canning-hwy., Palmyra, wants to marry again, lawyer N. de B. Cullen asked on his behalf for the term of the decree nisi to be shortened. It was, to 3 months.

Wallace died on 10 Mar 1962 at Palmyra, Western Australia, aged only 48.

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