World War II 75th anniversary: How Rona McKenny became a part of history on the first VP Day

Rona McKenny (far left) in the iconic
Rona McKenny (far left) in the iconic "The Dancing Man" photo; Rona (top right) and with her friend Dawn in Sydney's Martin Place. Photos: Supplied

Victory in the Pacific Day was a time for Australians to rejoice. In fact, it had some people dancing in the streets.

One man's celebratory moves on a Sydney street have long been remembered.

The Sydney "Dancing Man" - snapped pirouetting in Elizabeth Street - personified the elation and relief felt across the country as the war in the South Pacific came to an end.

That image was featured on the 2005 commemorative $1 coin marking the 60th anniversary since the end of WWII.

Rona McKenny and her friend Dawn walking beside "The Dancing Man".

Rona McKenny and her friend Dawn walking beside "The Dancing Man".

While many may have secured the coin as a keepsake one NSW woman has a much closer connection to the dance. Well, at least her mother did.

Angela Taylor's mother Rona McKenny was just a ballet leap away from the dancing man as he strutted his stuff on the street on August 15, 1945.

In fact, she was the woman glancing over her shoulder for another look at the performance in a picture that has since become famous.

Angela proudly shares the story of the moments that would have her mother, her mother's friend Dawn and a dancing man forever become a vision of celebration following Japan's unconditional surrender as Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's acceptance of the Allies' terms. It was the day that the war ended in the Pacific.

The surrender of Nazi Germany had occurred three months earlier.

Rona McKenny and friend Dawn in Martin Pace Sydney 1944

Rona McKenny and friend Dawn in Martin Pace Sydney 1944

At the time of VP Day, Australian forces were engaged in campaigns across the Pacific - in New Guinea, Bougainville, New Britain, Borneo, and in the Philippines - and Australian prisoners of the Japanese were spread throughout Asia.

"My mother Rona McKenny was the lady in the grey suit walking with her friend Dawn beside the famous 'Dancing Man', whose identity many have wondered about over the years," Angela said.

Angela has also shared a picture of her mother and the same friend Dawn standing in Martin Plaza, Sydney in 1944.

"As you can see she's wearing the same grey suit, shoes and hat as she is in the famous photo, which was taken in Elizabeth Street Sydney on VP Day August 15, 1945," Angela added.

	Rona McKenny about 1948.

Rona McKenny about 1948.

"During the war mum and Dawn worked as secretaries in the Explosives and Ammunition Section of the Munitions Supply Laboratories at Lidcombe.

"On the day they heard the news that the war had ended everyone dropped everything and raced into the city, in Mum's case, Elizabeth Street, where the famous newsreel or the Dancing Man was filmed, while they were walking along the street."

Angela said her mother later worked as a court reporter in Central Criminal Court in Liverpool Street and, later, when her section moved up to it, the old Mint building in Macquarie Street.

Angela Taylor (3) with her mum Rona McKenny, at Centennial Park about 1954.

Angela Taylor (3) with her mum Rona McKenny, at Centennial Park about 1954.

"She would take everything that was said in court down in shorthand, and then type it all up," Angela said.

"We moved to Bowral in 1969, and she did the commute by train to Sydney until she retired in 1978. Mum passed away in 2014 at the age of 89."

NB: A second person has since stepped forward saying his mother is in the dancing man photo. A claim which we are looking into.

Do you have more information regarding the dancing man photo? We would love to hear from you.

We'd love to hear your family's stories of that moment and their contributions to the VP Day fight.

If you've got letters at home, memorabilia, or stories you'd like to tell, we'd love to share them - just fill out this form below and we'll be in touch:

This story Snapped: The photo that summed up VP Day in Australia first appeared on Southern Highland News.