A life of treasures

Sam Kennett.
Sam Kennett.

James Thomas ‘Sam’ Kennett May 19, 1920 - March 21, 2014

SAM Kennett was born James Thomas Kennett on May 19, 1920 to Amelia and James Kennett of Hamilton, Victoria. 

He was the oldest of five siblings.

As a child he enjoyed his hunting of rabbits and fishing around the Hamilton area. 

In 1932 and 1934 he attended the Melbourne Cup with Peter Pan winning both times. 

Sam and a mate would catch the train from Hamilton to Melbourne to watch the race. 

His love of the races and horses stayed with him right throughout his life and was often called upon for his tips.

When war broke out in 1939 Sam was working as a shoe salesman in Hamilton until it got the better of him, him and his mate Teddy Kenna decided they should sign up. 

By 1940 they had both signed up and Sam was now part of the 32nd battalion Delta Company.

To Sam things weren’t moving quickly enough so he left the Army and enlisted with the Air Force, carrying out his training at Victor Harbour in South Australia. 

From here he carried out training in many areas throughout Australia before being posted to 24 Squadron at Bankstown NSW in September 1942.

On May, 1943, Sam married Edith Mary Anderson who he had met at a train station when he asked her for directions to the Bankstown Airfield.

Edith at the time was a member of the Women’s Royal Australian Air Force. 

They did not see each other for two and a half years while Sam was away in New Guinea.

On October 1, 1943, Sgt Kennett left Menangle NSW in a Douglas DC3 to join the 5th USAAF at Dobadura, New Guinea, after much action and adventure by December 1943 he rejoined the body of 24 Squadron at Kiriwina Island in the Trobriand Group of Islands.

During this time until he was discharged in early 1946 he would find himself in places such as Milne Bay, Gona, Buna, Sanananda, Port Moresby, Trobiand Islands, Nadzab, Finchhafen and Tsili Tsili to name a few.

During this time Sam would have strange contacts with the enemy. 

On two occasions he suffered injuries and on a second occasion after a flame flowing out an old enemy bunker and ordinance in a deceased Japanese soldiers pocket exploded causing severe burns to his upper body.

Discharged in early 1946 Sam was posted to post war apprenticeships which helped out returning serviceman to find jobs. 

In civilian life Sam found himself as a painter and decorator working for a man by the name of Bob Crisp.

After approximately seven years of painting a lot of the prominent buildings across Sydney city his boss required him to come to Bombala to paint a pub that he’d just purchased. 

It was called the Globe Hotel.

Sam arrived in early 1951 and it wasn’t long before he realised it was time to start making money for himself, so after working through the day to get a pound in the pocket he started painting after hours. 

Ironically enough the first place he had an after hours job was in the main bedroom in the house Edith and himself purchased 10 years later. 

This house is still in the family to this day. 

Ray Turnbull was employed by Sam in 1959 and by 1973 they were business partners.

During his time at Bombala he was involved in many organisations with the most prominent being the RSL Sub Branch which he was an active member of right up until his passing.

Sam’s role in the RSL Sub Branch included honorary treasurer for 47 years, president for four years, and secretary for nine years.

His roles at the RSL Club included treasurer for 18 years and secretary for 10 years.

Sam retired from the painting and decorating business in 1991 and from here he and Edith enjoyed many years of travelling holidays and most of all his favourite passion, his roses and garden.

He also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren listening to their adventures and telling his own stories to them of his childhood.

In 1998 Sam was awarded the RSL’s highest award, The Meritorious Service Medal, in 2002 he received Rotary’s highest accolade the Paul Harris Fellowship Award, then in 2008 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal.

Sam passed away peacefully on March 21, 2014, with his family by his side.

He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Edith; daughter Jacqui and son John; his three grandsons Martin, Jay and Joel; his three great-grandchildren Maisey, Reide and Riley; and their families.


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