Tears of joy of Arctic Star hero widow

09:44 10 February 2014

The Arctic Star medal awarded to Joy Kendrick's late husband John. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 1954-06-14SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk

The Arctic Star medal awarded to Joy Kendrick's late husband John. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 1954-06-14SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk


The widow of a Royal Navy hero has become one of the first to receive a new medal honouring her husband’s wartime heroics.

Brixington’s Joyce Kendrick, 87, finally received The Arctic Star last week, to mark the wartime contribution of her husband John Edward Kendrick.

John, who died two years ago, had fought for 67 years for his role in the Arctic Convoys to Russia during World War Two to be recognised.

Joyce, from Warneford Gardens, said: “When I received the medal, the tears were flowing.

“I am so proud of him.”

John Kendrick, DSM, MID, served on at least seven different vessels between 1939 and 1945 – three of which were torpedoed and sunk.

Their mission was to provide cover for convoys sailing to Murmansk in Russia using ancient World War One technology – convoys laden with food and supplies.

However, it was on the SS Empire Lawrence, a Defence Equipped Merchant ship, that he experienced the full horrors of Arctic Convoy duty.

The convoy comprised 36 ships and left Iceland on May 21, 1942.

In 2007 John told the Journal: “The pack ice was forcing us nearer to the Norwegian coast, and the convoy came in range for the Germans to press home more attacks.

“When the Germans arrived they were met with such a heavy barrage it prevented them from coming in too low.”

Although other vessels were hit, it was obvious that the SS Empire Lawrence was the main target.

“Our merchant seamen helpers were magnificent loading the guns and, as the bombs exploded under our stern, the ship shuddered.”

Then one German pilot dropped a bomb near the bridge - with devastating consequences.

“When it happened the stern rose and, as the captain sounded ‘abandon ship’, we made our way to the lifeboats.”

But, as John was attempting to lower the lifeboat from the sinking ship, the bombers returned and strafed the ship from bow to stern – the stern exploded and broke off from the midships.

But it happened so quickly, John didn’t realise he was standing on the fall rope: “It had wrapped round my ankle and pulled me into the water at a terrific rate.”

But, because John had been underwater, he hadn’t realised the Germans had returned - and had mercilessly machine-gunned the survivors crying for help in thefreezing waters.

John then shot to the surface like a cork, and found himself clinging onto a box:

“While I was floating my hands were becoming colder and colder, and I realised I couldn’t hold on much longer.”

He lost consciousness, and by some miracle found himself on board the HMS Hyderabad- she had returned to pick up any survivors.

“It was a courageous decision to return,” said John. “They put themselves at risk.

“Now I think of all the men who perished without historic recognition.”

Joyce said: “When I realised what it was like for him, it just broke my heart.

“Crew stripped him naked and put him on the deck to thaw him out so he didn’t get frostbite.”

She admits that it took so long for the medal to come through she feared she would not get to see it: “I told them that it would be posthumous to me before too long.

“He died before he even knew they were going to get the medal.

“I’m just glad I have lived to see it.”


Other News Stories


Exmouth’s sea cadets are looking to expand the group, following the grand opening of their new £670,000 home.

Read more

A new charity dedicated to helping suicide bereaved families is now supporting almost 100 people across the county, writes Becca Gliddon.

Read more
Yesterday, 12:30

An Exmouth grandfather, who died last month, has been remembered as a quality house builder, a top class sailor and ‘a very popular man’.

Read more
Yesterday, 06:30

A piece of Exmouth town centre will be turning purple to help the fight to eradicate one of the world’s deadliest diseases.

Read more
Fri, 15:17

Police say they are treating the semi-naked woman shown in a photograph with an Exmouth dinosaur trail model as a victim, because the image was ‘unlawfully accessed’ and shared without permission.

Read more
Fri, 12:30

Television cameras have caught the moment an Exmouth man returned to the armed forces life 10 years after he was discharged.

Read more
Fri, 10:00

Exmouth Police Station is to stay in its current location for the foreseeable feature, after plans for its replacement were delayed.

Read more
Fri, 06:30

Detectives at Exmouth are appealing for information after a home in Budleigh Salterton was burgled and jewellery stolen.

Read more
Thu, 12:30

Exmouth in Bloom has achieved silver gilt status in the national Britain in Bloom competition.

Read more
Thu, 11:30

There’s just a few days to go to Exmouth Means Business – the one-day networking event, aimed at businesses from Exmouth, East Devon and Exeter.

Read more

Local Weather



max temp: 12°C

min temp: 8°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Advertise in the Paper
Submit a Story
Subscriptions Order
Photo Orders
Family notices
Google Plus
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Read the Exmouth Journal e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Local business directory

Exmouth's trusted business finder


Show Job Lists

Find planning applications