Bill Keenan has the black and white photograph capturing the moment six Tauranga men signed up for infantry service in World War II.

"Four of them are brothers, and they all came back," the 65-year-old said.

The 1939 photograph shows Don, Alan, Bill, Sam and Dennis Kennedy and Tom Keenan walking confidently down The Strand with cigarettes hanging from their mouths.

The Kennedys' mother and father were the Kennedys that Kennedy Rd was named after, Keenan said.


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"Those four were brought up on the Kennedy farm on Kennedy Rd."

Tom Keenan was Bill's father, who owned one of the first farms past the Pyes Pa Cemetery where Keenan now works. But the farm was sold when Keenan was 8 years old.

All of the men had since passed, but Keenan still holds on to the photo his aunty, the only Kennedy daughter in the family, had given him 10 years ago.

"It is more the memories," he said.

"If dad hadn't of come back I wouldn't be here."

Keenan said his father didn't speak much about the war.

"A lot of my cousins remember my dad, he was a war hero to them. But to me he was just my dad."


Keenan said the photograph showed how confident the men were.

"You could see they were all keen as mustard to sign up," he said. "But when they got there it wasn't that nice. The carnage and seeing their friends being killed ... it wasn't that 'romantic trip'."

Keenan said his father was older than the other soldiers and was seen as the "wise head".

"He was about 30 when he went to war and he had guys in his battalion that were only 17," he said.

"He was always telling them to stick their heads down. He knew what a gun was and what would happen if you stuck your head up."

Keenan said his father used to go to the RSA with some of his war friends on his return. "He formed some really strong relationships with the guys who went to war."

The 65-year-old now attends a service in the RSA area of the Pyes Pa cemetery to pay tribute to his father and other servicemen.

Pyes Pa Cemetery service:
When: Anzac Day, April 25
Where: Pyes Pa cemetery
Time: 11am