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Those who Served
Sean Kenny .
Sgt G. Kensall . RAF 428 Sqd
Sgt Kensall flew as a Mid-upper Gunner. His aircraft was shot down on ops to Frankfurt on 20/21 Dec 1943.
Sergeant George Kensall . RAF 428 Squadron (d.20th December 1943)
Halifax LK928 Squadron 428 Operation Frankfurt Date 1 20th December 1943 Date 2 21st December 1943 LK928 was one of two No.428 Squadron Halifaxes lost on this operation (the other was EB252). Airborne 1614 20Dec43 from Middleton St.George. Cause of loss not established. Crashed at Glees some 7 km NNW of Mendig. Burials are reported from Glees 27Dec43; their graves are now located in Rheinberg War Cemetery.
The brother of Sgt Jessiman, William Herkis Jessiman, was also KIA. F/S Tycoles survived the crash as his death is reported to have taken place at Reserve Lager Maria Loast 24Dec43.
F/S J.L.Keighan RCAF PoW Sgt George Herkis Jessiman RCAF R/68645 KIA age 22 F/O Keith Maxwell Mosher RCAF J/21553 KIA F/S Elmer Lawrance Tycoles RCAF R/128073 Inj Sgt John Patrick Slater RAF 1516173 KIA age 29 Sgt George Kensall RAF 1052337 KIA age 22 Sgt Thomas Stanley Roy Dagnall RAF 1600759 KIA F/S J.L.Keighan was interned in Camps L6/357, PoW No.1463.
Pte. William Kensall . British Army East Kent Regiment (The Buffs)
My uncle, Bill Kensall, was a POW. I believe he was captured during the retreat to Dunkirk in 1940 and remained a prisoner until 1945. I think he was in a POW camp in Poland.Raymond May
G Kent . Navy HMS Nigeria
I have a photo of H.M.S. Nigeria with lots of signatures on the back. It says Torpedo Division 1945 and is dated 19th September 1945.
The names are:
R G Stocker Geordie Burns Ronald J Harris G Kent P Rayment W Wheatley D Chapman H J Fisher D P Sweeney A ?? Whithead H Lockear Blimp Palmer G. Kent J Arnold ~(Sussex) A Chapman James Robertson(Jock) R E Fisher D Mercer R E Riley W L Gilbert F J Fulcher (Wind Bo'sun 1st class) D Hughes TGM G L Bowers E Ticehurst F C Welch G W DownesJo Russell
G Kent . Navy HMS Nigeria
I have a photo of H.M.S. Nigeria with lots of signatures on the back. It says Torpedo Division 1945 and is dated 19th September 1945.
The names are:
R G Stocker Geordie Burns Ronald J Harris G Kent P Rayment W Wheatley D Chapman H J Fisher D P Sweeney A Whithead H Lockear Blimp Palmer G. Kent J Arnold ~(Sussex) A Chapman James Robertson(Jock) R E Fisher D Mercer R E Riley W L Gilbert F J Fulcher (Wind Bo'sun 1st class) D Hughes TGM G L Bowers E Ticehurst F C Welch G W DownesJo Russell
Sgt. H. M. Kent . 97 Squadron
Asst.Steward John Kent . Merchant Navy SS. Athenia
Roy Kent . Royal Canadian Air Force pilot 419 Sqd.Murray Morgan
Sgt. Kenworthy .
Lt Cmdr. James Henry Newton Kenworthy RD. Royal Naval Reserve HMS Forfar (d.2nd Dec 1940)
My father, Sub Lt Broadhurst, had written beneath the picture: Lt Commdr J.H.N. Kenworthy RNR. A grand old sailor, a staunch supporter of the merchant service and the RNR. Revelled in Naval tradition, was serving in the cunard at the outbreak of war.
He refused to leave the Captain, who in turn refused to leave the upper bridge and so died. Navigator of the Forfar.
He was 39 years old, son of John and Maud Kenworthy and husband of Sybil Caldwell Kenworthy, of Crewe, Cheshire.Adrianne Steffen
A. A. Kenyon . Royal Canadian Air Force 419 Sqd.
F/Lt. Bennett Ley Kenyon . Royal Air Force 419 Squadron
I met Ley Kenyon in the Chelsea Arts club in the 1970s when researching images for a book on WWII escapes. He was an artist, and was ordered to record the building of Harry. The drawings were hidden in Tom Tunnel at the forced evacuation but were returned to Ley after the war; the whole experience was so traumatic for him however, that he had barely looked at them since until I came along. He expressed some annoyance that the character in 'The Great Escape' mainly based on himself was depicted as showing fear and even cowardice while carrying out the task of recording the tunnel, which he vehemently denied.
A number of the drawings Ley Kenyon made of Harry Tunnel can be found online at The Great EscapeS L Waterson
Frank Tom Kerle . Army Dorset Regiment
My father, Frank Tom Kerle, served with the Dorset Regiment from approx 1939 to 1945. When alive he often reflected on his sentry duties and Wyke Regis and along the Kent coast. He took part in the D-Day landings and helped as a stretcher bearer and was injured undertaking these duties. I would love to find more details about my late father's war years.Peter Owen Kerle
Flight Sergeant K W Kermode . RAAF 59 SquadronLorenzo del Mann
Lt G. E. Kernohan . Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve HMS Forfar
Lt Kernohan was one of the survivors when the Forfar was sunk on the 2nd of December 1940
Robert Kerns . RAF 166 Squadron from Alberta, Canada)
My father, Robert Kerns, a Canadian from Alberta served with 166 Squadron from 1943 to 1945. Dad was a navigator, did his 'tour of ops'and then was promoted to flight sargent with Jim Dunlop's crew. Dad is almost 97 years old and we think the last surviving member of his crew. In south central Alberta, in a ranching town called Nanton, some people hauled an old Lancaster built in Alberta into town in 1985. Since then, the Nanton Lancaster Museum of which we belong, has grown into a world class museum dedicated to Lancasters. We dedicated a plague with a photo of Dad's crew to Nanton. A replica of the noseart from "Beer Barrel," the plane they flew and in which did 118 ops, was painted on a six foot piece of Lancaster 'skin.' When the new wing of the museum is built, this noseart will be hung along with the plagues we gave Nanton. We are endeavouring to preserve the memory of those who flew for the 'freedom' we so casually enjoy today. Thanks for listening. Rose BalcomRose Balcom
Flight Sergeant Robert Kerns . RAF navigator 166 Squadron from Nanton, Alberta)
My father, Robert Kerns, a Canadian from Alberta, Canada served with 166 Squadron from 1943 to 1945. Dad was a navigator and did his 'tour of ops' then promoted to flight sergeant with Jim Dunlop's crew. Dad is almost 97 years old and we think the last surviving member of his crew. In south/central Alberta, in a ranching town called Nanton, some people hauled an old Lancaster built in Alberta, into town in 1985. Since then, the Nanton Lancaster Museum to which we belong, has grown into a world class museum dedicated to Lancasters. We dedicated a plaque with photo of dad's crew to Nanton. When a new wing is built, replica nose art from "Beer Barrel" the plane they flew in which did 118 ops, painted on a six foot piece of Lancaster 'skin' will be hung along with the plaques we gave Nanton. We are endeavouring to preserve the memory of those who flew for the 'freedom' we so casually enjoy today. Thanks for listeningRose Balcom
C.S.M. "Geordie" Kerr . Army 1st btn The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Midshpmn. Allan Kerr . Royal Naval Reserve HMS Forfar
Thursday, 12th Dec. 1940.
A week ago today, I was one of fifty-nine survivors of H.M.S. Forfar to be landed at Liverpool. At noon on the same day a party of eighty-seven were landed at Oban by the cargo steamer Dunsley and on Saturday 7th a final batch of thirteen were landed at Gourock by H.M.C.S. St. Laurent, thus bringing the total of survivors to the all too slender figure of one hundred and fifty-nine.
On Sunday night, 1st December, I kept the first watch (8 p.m. till midnight). At eleven o’clock that night I entered in the log “2300 – parted company with destroyer escort”. We had received a wireless message giving the position of a torpedoed vessel and had altered course to the Nor’ard to keep clear when we got another message from Admty. telling us to keep well to the South’ard. By eight bells we had made our second alteration of course and everything was running smoothly. I turned over to my relief and best friend Mackay, and his “Cheery-night” is the last word I heard before going below.
It was a black night, with no moon, and the fitful starlight occasionally obscured by cloud. I undressed, said my prayers and turned in quite happily. My sound sleep was soon broken by a terrific crash! Immediately I was awake. “Torpedoed” flashed through my mind and just as quickly I prayed and switched on my light. Never will I forget the eerie silence that prevailed. The engines had stopped and the lights were dimming rapidly. “Action Stations” was sounded on the klaxons, but this seemed to drain the last few dregs from the dynamo for it petered out and all went black.
I pulled on my uniform and an old jersey on top of my pyjamas, a scarf, cap and raincoat as well as the all-important lifebelt. I can still distinctly remember being annoyed when one of my shoe-laces broke as I pulled on my shoes.
I had an electric torch in my raincoat pocket and by the aid of this light I made my way to the bridge. In the lower chart-room I was able to assist Mr. Broadhurst who was holding a light for the navigator, Lt. Cdr. Kenworthy whilst he (the navigator) plotted our exact position on the chart. This was 54? 19’ N, 19? 54’ W. We should have met our convoy in about 40? W so we had got barely half-way. Broadhurst said, “I suppose it was a torpedo, sir?” and Ken answered, “Oh! Yes.” Well, the position having been ascertained I proceeded out on deck to find out what was happening. I was told that the order had been piped “Proceed to boat stations, turn out boats and stand-by.”
I accordingly proceeded to P3, my boat and the lower of the two (P2 & P3). P2 was swung outboard, when it was remembered that the plugs were not in. Meantime, there being no-one, neither officers or men, for P2, I went below to the Prom. deck in search of same. While here I saw the Bos’n and asked his advice on throwing overside the rope-ladders. With the help of Bos’n’s-mate McPhail we payed out one, then A.B. Smith (Corpl. of Gangway) helped in getting the after one over. During these operations, as the ship rolled in the moderate swell, the rush of air up the engine-room ventilators was quite unnerving. It roared up in a screaming crescendo and I had to take a firm grip on myself to prevent my shuddering. I saw Chief Skipper Ladley at this point, with a bag which he told me contained “a bottle o’ w’iskey and a bottle o’ brandy.”
I next proceeded back to the boat deck and there still being no officer in sight, in charge of P2, I went off to the C.B. room in search of Mr. Ascroft whose boat it was. I found him, in shirt-sleeves, packing the surplus C.Bs into Joe’s (Mid. Ormerod) suitcase. I asked him to come along to his boat as the order had now been given to lower same and stand-by the ship. He asked me if I was P2 and I said, “No sir, P3”. He then gave me a small case containing his personal papers, Master’s ticket etc., told me to take charge of P2 and to get going. On returning yet again to the boat deck I found Lt. Machin in charge of P3. He saw I had a torch so he told me to get into P2 and see that the plugs were in. Two seamen and myself were doing this when at 0345 (0445 G.M.T.) there was a crash seemingly right below us and P4 boat, not 10 ft. away, was smashed.
I crouched low while the debris was flying, realised that I was alone in the boat, took fright and jumped out, into P3 directly below. I heard Ashdown sing out that his boat (P4) was smashed and that his crew would just have to muck in with us. I clambered back into P2. At this stage the 3rd torpedo struck, Port side also, deluging us with water which came spewing out of the engine-room vents. etc. Having survived the previous one, we just crouched low and survived this one also, although now thoroughly soaked. The plugs now being in, one seaman manning the for’ard fall and myself the after one, I gave orders to lower away. I bawled out to ’vast lowering as we came level with the Prom. deck. The ship now had a slight list to Port because we hung about 3 ft. out from the ship’s side. I yelled into the blackness of the Prom. deck “Anybody here for P2?” There was no answer as the deck was deserted. I bawled to the lowerers to carry on lowering and we were soon in the water. The after fall unhooked itself as we rose on the swell and we lay alongside made fast by the painter to the Prom. deck.
Men now came down the rope ladders and as she settled some even jumped from the Prom. deck right into the boat. There would be nearly 20 men in the boat now and I was trying to slip the painter when someone in the water screamed my name. I was dripping with oil fuel even now, as the painter was thickly covered in it, however I got good grip of the young fellow who I think was Radio Cadet Fraser. Another chap and myself were endeavouring to haul him inboard when with a shattering roar we went sailing into the air. The fourth torpedo had struck directly below my boat blowing us right out of the water.
I thought this was finish. I can remember being down under and striking out mechanically for the surface. Just previously I had seen a Carley float for’ard of the boat. I swam to this to find the Postie, P.O. Lazenby and L/S Frank Mayo already “on board”. There were many others inside and all round so I just hung on for a while. Even in these circumstances the lads had to laugh at my appearance. Now capless, with hair and face coated thickly in that treacle-like oil I am sure I was an odd sight. While hanging there, Ken Fisher, a coder, came along and he was in a similar state. The time of the 4th torpedo striking us was approx. 0353 (Zone Time).
Two minutes later the 5th and last torpedo struck, again on the Port side. This was the final blow as the ship broke in two owing to the after magazine blowing sky-high. She was well down by the stern now and I remember the ghastly cracklings as the after end bent inwards crushing the decks like matchwood. She heeled quickly over on her Sta’b’d side, the after end disappeared, and as she settled, she turned right over and sank slowly and steadily by the stern. We had paddled like mad to get well away, but as there were twelve of us and only 2 paddles we did not get very far. However, as she turned over on her Sta’b’d side, she went away from us and there was little suction owing to the slow speed at which she finally settled. As the bows slid away for the last time I said, “Well boys, there goes the last of the old Forfar.” I don’t know why I should make such a melodramatic statement, but it didn’t seem right to me that she should make her last exit unannounced.
We could now see many Carley floats all round and men swimming in the water. We managed to paddle clear of the dreadful oil. I now managed to haul myself onto the float so that my chest rested on the side thus taking the weight off my arms. I kept kicking my legs slowly all the time to keep up the circulation.
Some hours had passed, but it was still dark, when to our great joy we heard a steamer blowing. We could dimly discern her lines and we made a big effort to get alongside. I smelt the cooking from her galley and promised the boys food and sleep. Well, paddle as we might we could not make it, but drifted past her bows and off to leeward. We spied our cutter (the Sta’b’d. one) which had a good number on board, and bellowed at her to give us a hand. She came alongside, took two fellows off (O’Brien and McIvor) then pushed off saying she would come back for us.
In attempting to board the cutter, other two of our number lost their lives. By now we were pretty numb with the cold and could do nothing to help them. One fellow had a leg inside the float and the rest of him in the water. L/S Mayo reported this to me, and on ascertaining that he was beyond help we just had to disentangle his leg and push him overside as his weight was a heavy drag.
We hung on and as it grew light we could clearly see the steamer S.S. Dunsley of Whitby, 3,860 tons, owned by Headlan and Sons of Whitby as she steamed around picking the lads up. We were patiently hanging on awaiting our turn. It was springing up blowey now and we tried to keep the float head to wind, then we tried to keep as near the steamer as possible. This however did not prove a task for which we were able in our present state so we drifted further and further away.
What I think would be three hours after we first sighted her, the Dunsley pushed off. It was a most sickening feeling to see her go. Some of the boys would not believe she was going and brave Mayo, although knowing the truth in his heart, informed us that that she was just picking up more of the lads who were “over there”. I too realised the truth but said nothing.
We all felt thoroughly miserable now seeing our only hope steaming away over our horizon. We did not know that the Dunsley had sighted the destroyers away in the distance and was going to enlist their help. I reckon the time then was about 10.30 a.m.
Anyway, there were a number of floats still about, so we didn’t feel too bad, as long as someone else was in the same plight. We attempted to paddle towards what we thought was a boatload of men, but what turned out to be several Carleys lashed together. Then I definitely did see a boat, the now abandoned cutter. For this we paddled and paddled and paddled. Sometimes we seemed a little nearer, I always encouraged this line of thought at any rate. I remember a shower of rain came on and we smiled a lot of twisted smiles, thinking aloud, had we not already had enough? At about 3.30 p.m. a Carley float overtook us in the race for the cutter. I could see that one of the four occupants was my friend John Morrison, who was still wearing his peculiar little Sou’wester with the bow on top.
We hailed them, saying, “If you get to the cutter first, bring her over for us, and if we get there first (what a hope) we will do the same for you.” They waved a cheery acknowledgement and the four of them, with a paddle each, seemed to whizz off like a speedboat. Before long we saw them tumble on board and we saw that someone else had got there too.
Then we espied an aircraft. This also proved very tantalising as she seemed to fly around the horizon and indeed, to do anything but fly over us.
I wondered if she saw. Anyway I cheered up my mates by assuring them that she did. I now believe such to have been the case, for about an hour later what was our joy as she came close over us to be followed by a destroyer. This was quickly followed by the appearance of a second destroyer and we knew at last that our salvation was at hand. How we thanked God, and shouted, one of us jeopardising the lives of us all by standing up and waving a paddle.
By now we were much nearer the cutter whose mast had been stepped and from which hung a signal of distress in the form of somebody’s scarf. To make the rescue work of our destroyers easier, we made a final big effort and at Mayo’s suggestion, manned a paddle between two. Thus, and by dint of counting up to ten many times, we made the cutter, whose occupants, having fed and rested, got out the oars and met us halfway.
Willing hands helped us tumble inboard and presented us with the oiliest, filthiest but most delicious bully-beef and biscuits which I have yet tasted. This we washed down with equally oily and delicious whiskey which was passed from one eager mouth to another with most amusingly audible enjoyment. From other Carleys we now collected Sub. Lieut. Rogers, Engineer Sub. Lieut. Askin, P.O. Gaskell whose leg was broken and who had received a cut on the head. In the company of these and other grinning “coloured gentlemen” we made further inroads in the iron rations and completely drained the whiskey bottle.
We now sat quite happily watching the destroyers as they picked up some of our less fortunate mates, then the great moment arrived when H.M.S. Viscount came alongside, threw us a line and one by one, took us all on board. It was like heaven. The kindly faces and ready, welcoming hands. We staggered along for’a’d where I was taken charge of by a jovial bloke name o’ Woolcock, L/S. He tore the clothes off me, gave me an amazing and scanty assortment of dry ones and proceeded to wipe my face down with a piece of waste soaked in kerosene. I must have been some sight, judging by the colour that waste became.
I was then given a great mug of hot tea, during the consumption of which I learned that “Joe” (Mid. Ormerod) was also on board. As soon as I was dressed I went to seek him out. I found him arrayed, like a Red man, in a blanket. We were both overjoyed at our meeting and stuck together till we finally parted in the station in Liverpool, where we were landed, three days later.
On board the destroyer we were treated most kindly and have many happy memories of our stay there: the sleepless nights with Joe’s elbow in my ear and Donald Lusk’s knees in my stomach, occasionally being trampled by the none-too-small but happily stockinged feet of Big John Connolly. These disturbances together with the “screwey” motion of the ship gave us much to think about, and to discuss!
I mourn the loss of so many splendid men, but I thank God for them, for their grand example and for their memory which I shall always cherish.
Allan W Kerr.
Mid Shipmn. Allan Weir Kerr . Royal Naval Reserve HMS Forfar from Port Glasgow)
I've just been reading the crew list attached to the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS 'Forfar', and I note that AB Penney was outpointed in a boxing match by Midshipman Kerr. The said Mid. Kerr is my late father (sadly he died on 11 Apr 09, but he'd had a good innings, and his death was quick and clean), and I remember him telling me about that boxing match, when the MC announce that he "awarded the victory to Mr Kerr for the clever use of 'is left 'and!" I don't suppose there will be too many Forfar survivors left now after almost 70 years (the only one who comes to mind is another Mid, John Ormerod), but I did meet one of her former crew in Bermuda nearly 40 years ago, one Alec Foster (regrettably now deceased), who had served on Forfar in the spring of 1940 before being transferred to MTBs that summer. It just so happened that my wife worked as nurse/receptionist in Bermuda for Dr Liz Galloway, who just happened to be Mrs Foster! How's that for coincidence? My father, and my wife's boss's husband, shipmates on HMS Forfar 50 years previously!Davie Kerr
Paymaster Midshipman Claude B. Kerr . Royal Navy HMS Nelson (d.12th Aug 1942)
Sgt. F. Y.D. Kerr . 97 Squadron
J. Kerr . Royal Canadian Air Force 419 Sqd.
James Kerr . Navy from Glasgow, Scotland)
I have just found out through tracing my tree that my Grandfather James Kerr served on the HMS "Pepperpot" Penelope. My mother always mentioned a story about the ship which mentioned my Grandfathers name in it. By doing some research I have heard of a book called HMS Pepperpot by Ed Gordon. If anyone has this book, or indeed has an information relating to my Grandfather I would love to hear from you, merely to see if he is actually named in it.Andrew Mackay
John Lewis Kerr . New Zealand Army
John Lewis Kerr . from New Zealand)
I have a paybook of my late Father's John Lewis Kerr of New Zealand. Written in pencil on the back 2 pages are the brief details of his capture in 1942 to 1945 in a POW camp. I am expecting more copies of letters he wrote from 1942-1945 to arrive from Australia soon. These letters will give us more of an insight into our Father and what he experienced during those years. Another who seldom spoke of his wartime trauma.Jan Kerr-Chaplin
Pte. Matthew Kerr . British Army Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
My father Matt Kerr recently died aged 92 and he was one of the last soldiers from the Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders to leave Saint Nazaire. I am trying to find out if he actually left on the Lancastria or another boat? He always maintained he sunk three times during the Second World War and I wondered if the Lancastria was one. Anyone with any ideas please email me.M.Kerr
Padre Robert Wallace Kerr . Army Durham Light Infantry
I would like any information at all regarding my grandfather's time with the Durham Light Infantry. He was Rev Robert Wallace Kerr, a Padre in WW2, and I would welcome anything someone might remember.Nicola Cooke
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