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

Archant

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.”

0 comments

Other News Stories

06:30

Pupils from Littleham Primary School were told about the 22,888 Roman coin hoard discovered in Seaton, 2013, before making their own.

Read more
Yesterday, 12:30

Budleigh Salterton traders are looking for someone to sponsor one of two new proposed life-saving devices in the town.

Read more
Yesterday, 06:30

A former Exmouth nurse is hoping a book of poems she has written over her lifetime will raise funds for a blood cancer charity.

Read more
Fri, 14:41

It’s ‘Flashback Friday’ and we found these pictures of Topsham station in the Exmouth Journal archives.

Read more
Fri, 12:30

Mindless vandals sprayed graffiti on a live animal on a farm near Exmouth.

Read more
Fri, 12:02

Devon saw an increase in Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants during December – with East Devon recording the highest increase of any district.

Read more
Fri, 06:30

A family has publicly thanked Devon Air Ambulance paramedics for saving their eight-year-old son’s life after his scooter tore his windpipe in a freak accident on Exmouth seafront.

Read more
Thu, 15:46

The number of recorded crimes in three out of four Exmouth neighbourhoods rose year-on-year in 2016, according to figures released by Devon and Cornwall Police.

Read more
Thu, 11:26

County planners have been asked to approve the long-awaited completion of Dinan Way at a meeting next Wednesday (January 25).

Read more
Thu, 06:30

The amount claimed in expenses by East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire during the last financial year has been revealed.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 9°C

min temp: 3°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Advertise in the Paper
Submit a Story
Subscriptions Order
Competitions
Photo Orders
Family notices
iwitness24
Google Plus
Facebook
Twitter
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
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