The Airmen's Stories - P/O J B Kendal
John Bedford Kendal, of Chepstow, was born on 29th September 1920 and educated at Ardingly. He joined the RAFVR about April 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on 1st September, he went to No.1 ITW, Cambridge, did his elementary flying at 22 EFTS, Cambridge and then completed his training at 5 FTS, Sealand. Kendal converted to Spitfires at 7 OTU, Hawarden and was posted to 616 Squadron at Coltishall on 2nd September 1940.
He passed four non-operational weeks and then went to 66 Squadron at Gravesend on 29th September, his 20th birthday.
He claimed a Me109 destroyed on 2nd October. Kendal was himself shot down on the 5th in combat with Me109's over Tenterden. He is believed to have made a forced-landing at Detling, slightly injured, and to have been admitted to Preston Hall Hospital. On 29th October he destroyed a Me109.
Above: P/O CAW Bodie (left) with Kendal at 66 Squadron.
Above image courtesy of Gravesend Airport Heritage Project.
In 1941 Kendal volunteered for the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit. He was in the first Camship to sail in a Russian convoy, the Empire Morn. Convoy PQ15 sailed from Hvalfjord, lceland on 26th April 1942 and arrived at Murmansk on 6th May, having lost three ships to He111 torpedo-bombers.
The convoy, now
numbered QP12, sailed from Murmansk on 21st May.
Four days later Kendal was launched to attack enemy aircraft around the convoy. He destroyed a Ju88. Later, at the limit of his fuel, Kendal baled out but his parachute did not function properly and he sustained serious injuries when he struck the sea. He was quickly picked up from the icy water but died soon afterwards. Kendal was the first MSFU pilot to destroy an enemy aircraft and he was the only one to die after an operational launching. His final action had been to radio the position of the dinghy of the Ju88 crew.
Kendal was buried at sea. He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 67. He received a Mention in Despatches.
(Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner)