Awarded the Pilot Flying Badge on April 29, 1940.
Flew at 56 O.T.V. Sqdn, 242 Sqdn, 10 Sqdn and 403 Sqdn.
According to the circumstances report submitted by the Officer Commanding No. 403 (Canadian) Squadron, R.A.F. Station, Hornchurch, F/O McKenna was airborne at 0830 hrs on August 21, 1941, the squadron led by Squadron Leader Morris, took off from Hornchurch in company with 603 and 611 Squadrons to act as high cover for 6 Blenheims bombing a chemical works near Bethune, France. At approximately 0910 hrs, the squadron became engaged with a number of ME 109 F's (German fighters) some 25 miles South of Dunkirk, France. During the engagement F/O McKenna who was flying Blue 3 was seen by Blue 1 to be dived on by a 109F out of the sun. Blue 1, F/Lt Cathles, was unable to warn Blue 3 as Blue 1's radio transmitter was unserviceable. Blue 1 turned quickly to try getting on the 109F's tail, but was too late as before he could get around the enemy aircraft had fired a quick burst into Blue 3's aircraft and dived away into France. Blue 3's aircraft was seen to emit smoke and was apparently out of control. The Pilot, F/O McKenna, was seen to bale out, his parachute opened very quickly and he appeared to be all right. Blue 2, Sgt Rainvillr, also saw Blue 3 bale out.
A touching letter written by Alf. Broan:
I am taking the liberty of writing to you for a French nurse, Mme Leclercq - Lille, concerning Lieutenant Joseph Donald McKenna - No. C/1222 - RCAF - born at Passaic (New Jersey) 15/8/1911, whose family (she is given to understand) resides to Ottawa (Canada).
He was nursed by this lady in Calmette Hospital - Lille - Nord - France - this his wounds. Nevertheless with all the care possible he, unfortunately, passed away on the 8th September 1941 after everything that was humanly possible having been done to save him.
She states that the Germans gave him a firing salute by 12 soldiers and a large wreath was placed on his grave by them. Also that all his clothes (after having been cleaned) and personal papers, money and jewellery were taken care of by the Germans who promised to send them to his relations. There was only one button left on the coat, this lady has had it made into a broach and believes that his family might perhaps like it for a souvenir, unfortunately she does not know their address.