Sergeant Alfred Henry Kendrick 402201 RAAF 1912—1999
Alf Kendrick was born a Bankstown boy in October 1912, son of George and Daisy Hannah Kendrick. At the time he applied for RAAF enlistment in May 1940, Kendrick was still single and had been a Marine Steward for a decade. A seasoned seaman, he gave his mother’s address: by then in the Sydney harbour-side suburb of Abbotsford.
Alf Kendrick had made an earlier application for RAAF service as aircrew (the most popular choice but the most difficult to qualify for). Having left school after 2nd Year at a Technical School, he now sought a perhaps more practical alternative RAAF trade, as a Fitter or Mechanic.
Still, attending 2 Recruiting Centre Sydney for attestation, the Examining Medical Officer passed him fit for service as an Air Observer or Gunner. The date was 24 June 1940, two days after the Armistice in France. 402201 Kendrick AH was now a member of the RAAF, posted to 2 Initial Training School, Lindfield.
Alongside him on 2 RC entry was a strapping young fellow from Rockdale. In appearance the two had little in common but in short order they found otherwise.
402201 Sgt Alfred Henry Kendrick (left) c1941 (Kendrick collection)
Alf on the left in a slouch hat. On the right in forage cap, 402202 Sgt George Michael Kendrick. Although the pair were unrelated, young George’s brother was a Thomas Alfred, while Alfred’s father was another George. Both men wear Sergeant’s stripes, in a setting with a rather Sydney look about it. The image is from the family collection of George Kendrick.
The two men had joined the RAAF on the same day, at the same Recruiting Centre. Brothers-in-arms if not by blood, together they passed through the RAAF Empire Air Training Scheme syllabus, through 2 Initial Training School Lindfield, 1 Wireless Air Gunners School Ballarat and 1 BAGS at Evans Head, to gain their WOp/AG badges and promotion to Sergeant the same day, 10 February 1941
On Good Friday they embarked together for the Middle East, with the majestic convoy US10 that George photographed. Arrived safe in the Middle East, somehow they were to stick close together through the flurry of postings and operational training that followed.
The Middle East 1941
Like George, soon after landing in Egypt on 5 May 1942, Alf passed rapidly from Middle East Pool to the briefest of attachments to 211 Squadron in Palestine (presumably to the Training Flight); as briefly to the re-organising 70 OTU at Ismailia; then back to Middle East Pool; and at last through Kenya Pool in September 1941 to 70 OTU—now re-established at Nakuru to train twin-engine bomber crews.
There he passed two Blenheim Operations Courses for Wireless Operator/Air Gunners, which he completed by 22 November 1941. While there, he crewed up with two other Australians, F/O WR (Reg) Cuttiford RAAF as pilot and Sgt JO (Owen) Penry RAAF as Observer.
Back again to Middle East Pool to await an operational posting, for a time they were attached to the recently formed No 1 Delivery Unit. That may have allowed them to at least keep their hands in, delivering aircraft, until the humdrum was rudely broken by news of the Japanese attacks on Malaya and Pearl Harbour.
Posted to 211 Squadron at long last on 9 January 1942, Alf found George had beaten him to it by 10 days. On 17 January 1942 their posting records were both marked 211 Squadron FE, their Squadron now in the throes of deployment by air and sea to the Far East for the Dutch East Indies campaign.
The Air Party, made up of 24 Blenheim IVs, left Egypt in flights of six aircraft over the four days from 25 January 1942. It is unfortunate that the Squadron’s records from January 1942 onwards were lost or destroyed in Java, so that the make-up of those flights is only partially recorded today. Fortunately, Alf Kendrick’s place in the Air Party is known.
On 25 January 1942, with F/O Reg Cuttiford RAAF as pilot and Sgt Owen Penry RAAF as Observer/navigator, the three took off from Helwan in Blenheim IV Z7622. They were in the first flight of six 211 Squadron aircraft, led by W/Cdr RN Bateson DFC in Z9649 with Sgt Dennis (Observer) and Sgt Bill Baird (WOp/AG). Recorded in Cuttiford’s flying log book, the nine day journey took them across the Middle East, India and Burma to reach Palembang in Sumatra by 2 February 1942.
Stragglers en route and serviceability difficulties on the ground saw a depleted Squadron striving to undertake operations from P2 near Palembang from early February. When the East Indies campaign came to an end in early March, Cuttiford, Penry and Kendrick had flown together for over 100 hours on more than 40 occasions since crewing up at Nakuru in November 1941. Of their flights together, 22 were with 211 squadron, 5 of them operations against the Japanese from 2 to 21 February 1942.
Alf Kendrick returned to Australia on 13 May 1942, disembarking at 4 Embarkation Depot North Adelaide, “from the Middle East”, according to his RAAF service record.
On 13 May the 4 ED Operations Record Book recorded the return of “seven aircrew Sergeants disembarked per SS Katoomba having been conveyed from Colombo.” She had departed Ceylon on 12 April, returning to Australia via Mauritius (which might account for the Middle East mention). The Personnel Occurrence Report that week was more forthcoming:
402201 WOAG (II) Kendrick AH
Ceased attachment 211 Squadron RAF 12 May 1942
Disembarked Adelaide 13 May 1942
Taken on strength 4ED RAAF 13 May 1942
Auth ABO ‘A’ 9/1942
Source: NAA Series A10605 Item 433/4—4 ED Personnel Occurrence Report 43/1942 p3
Cuttiford and Penry had been repatriated on 13 April and 28 March, respectively. These events suggest that all three may have been with the large Air Force contingent among the some 2,150 men evacuated to Ceylon from Tjilatjap in Java on 27 February 1942 aboard the Kota Gede, only returning to Australia as and when berths were available.
From Adelaide, Alfred Kendrick returned to Sydney and 2 ED Bradfield Park at the end of May, and was shortly made Flight Sergeant. His service over the next nine months is unclear, unless it was at 2 ED Bradfield Park. In January 1943 he was able to take 5 days leave at long last.
At the end of February 1943, he was posted to No 32 Squadron RAAF, then based at Camden on anti-submarine patrols with Lockheed Hudsons. The Squadron converted to Beauforts from June. However, all was not well. By May his Squadron Leader was reporting that Kendrick had been unable to participate in operations due to sickness. For brief periods Alf was attached to the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service, to 1 Reserve Personnel Pool and to HQ Eastern Area. By June he was promoted to Warrant Officer.
On 5 August 1943, he was posted once more to an operational unit, No 7 Squadron RAAF, another Beaufort bomber-reconnaissance outfit operating out of Ross River and Cooktown in Far North Queensland. There he was able to take his place on the busy operational roster, such that by the end of October 1943 his aggregate flying since leaving 70 OTU amounted to 406 hours, of which 260 hours had been flown in the preceding six months, all but seven of that on operations.
By May 1944, Alf Kendrick had compiled 420 hours on operations in 65 operational sorties with 7 Squadron and was a very experienced Wireless Air Gunner. His next posting was to be with 10 Elementary Flying Training School at Temora, in the North Eastern Riverina of inland New South Wales. The war-time airfield is today the home of a very active aviation Museum whose airworthy roster includes a restored ex-32 Squadron Lockheed Hudson.
From his RAAF record it is not clear whether the intended posting to Temora, presumably for instructor duties as a tour expired Wireless Air Gunner, came to pass. His papers in July 1944 only refer to a time back at 2 Personnel Depot and 2 Embarkation Depot Bradfield Park, relieved by a brief attachment to 2 Aircraft Park at Bankstown. However, all was still not well.
Having survived a very considerable number of operations and despite the comparative ease of periods on home soil with non-operational units, Alf Kendrick was unwell again. In early December 1944 he appeared before the RAAF Medical Board, Sydney and was assessed “Permanently Medically Unfit” with a 10% disability.
In early January, his Clearance Certificate was completed with due dispatch at 2 PD Bradfield Park, for discharge with effect from 24 February 1945. After 4 years and 7 months unblemished war service, Warrant Officer Alfred Henry Kendrick 402201 was released from the RAAF. Marching out with entitlement to a 10% war pension and a Returned From Active Service badge to round off his 1939—1945 Star, Africa Star and Pacific Star campaign set, Alf Kendrick returned safe if not wholly well to the family home in Abbotsford.
Late of Revesby, formerly of Abbotsford, AH Kendrick died on 23 August 1999, aged 86.
211 Squadron RAF Operations Record Book Form 540 1941 (AIR 27/1302)
RAAF 4 ED North Adelaide: Personnel Occurrence Report 43/1942 p3 (NAA Series A10605 Item 433/4)
RAAF Personnel File 402201 Kendrick AH (NAA Series A9301)
RAAF Personnel File 402202 Kendrick GM (NAA Series A9301)
RAAF Personnel File 404561 Cuttiford WR (NAA Series A9300)
WR Cuttiford Flying Log Book
GM Kendrick family papers & correspondence via Kendrick and Summerville families
H Campbell and R Lovell So Long Singapore: RAF Auxiliary Tung Song December 1941—March 1942 (Campbell 2000)
S Eather Flying Squadrons of the Australian Defence Force (Aerospace 1995)
D Gillison Royal Australian Air Force 1939—1942 (AWM 1962)
A Hague The Allied Convoy System 1939—1945 (Vanwell 2000)
P Plowman Across the Sea to War Rosenberg 2003
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Site created 15 Apr 2001, last updated 31 Jul 2021. Page created 31 Jul 2012, last updated 13 August 2015
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