Arthur Didrik (Dick) KENDALL


KENDALL, Arthur Didrik

Service Number: 414356
Enlisted: 13 September 1941, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Leading Aircraftman
Last Unit: No. 1 Air Observers School Cootamundra
Born: Watford, England, 31 October 1909
Home Town: Childers, Bundaberg, Queensland
Schooling: St Albans School
Occupation: Orchardist
Died: Aircraft Accident, Ungarie, New South Wales, Australia, 11 February 1942, aged 32 years
Cemetery: Cootamundra General Cemetery
Church of England, Plot, Section AA, Grave 220, Cootamundra General Cemetery, Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Childers Memorial Hall (Isis District Pictorial War Memorial), Isis District Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

13 Sep 1941: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2 (WW2), SN 414356, Brisbane, Queensland
13 Sep 1941: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman, SN 414356
11 Feb 1942: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman, SN 414356, No. 1 Air Observers School Cootamundra

Anzac address 2017

Address by Ross Kendall at the Ungarie Anzac Service 2017.

Just over 75 years ago, on February 11th 1942 an RAAF Avro Anson aircraft on a training mission from No. 1 Air Observer School, Cootamundra crashed at Alawa, a property approximately 19 km north east of Ungarie. All five crew members were killed. They were the pilot, Flt Sgt Robbie Wesley-Smith, the wireless operator, AC1 Roy Farnsworth, and three trainee navigators, LACs Arthur Didrik (Dick) Kendall, Henry Fisher and John Spencer.

Dick Kendall was my father.

With us are relatives of some of these five men, and on their behalf, I thank the members of the Ungarie RSL and the Ungarie community for adopting them as their own, for welcoming us and allowing us to honour their sacrifice today just as you honour the sacrifice of so many members of the Ungarie community.

Without the benefit of weather radar and current knowledge of storms, the aircraft flew into storm clouds where, at first, it was believed that it had been struck by lightning. Later analysis established that the wooden left wing spar was broken by severe wind shear with the result that the aircraft broke apart before impact with the ground. Adrian Grimsley, as a young boy on Alawa, was with his mother when they witnessed the terrible event. Adrian is with us today.

The circumstances leading up to the crash and its aftermath have been well researched and documented by Terry Wesley-Smith, a nephew of the pilot Robbie Wesley-Smith and himself a former military pilot. Terry, who is here today accompanied by his wife, Pam, attended the Ungarie Anzac service in 2008 together with quite a number of his family representing four generations. He spoke at the service and presented a plaque to this branch of the RSL. The plaque is mounted on a rock here in the memorial park. A second plaque was presented to Laurin West of Belleforest where it is mounted on a rock at the crash site on what is now part of Belleforest.

In 2007 and 2008, during his research, Terry had been unable to establish contact with the relatives of the four other crewmembers. This was to change in 2014. In February of that year, my son Andrew and I visited my father’s grave at Cootamundra. On our return to Brisbane, my daughter Raylene engaged in some searching through the Internet and found a short newspaper report published in 2008 that told of the Wesley-Smith pilgrimage to Ungarie. Through that newspaper, I was able to establish contact with Terry. Subsequently, several members of our family met with him and Laurin at Ungarie in early July last year when we resolved to return and attend this year’s Anzac service.

At that time, we also resolved to try and establish contact with relatives of Roy Farnsworth, Henry Fisher and John Spencer. We have succeeded in finding relatives of Roy Farnsworth but all avenues of exploration have so far failed to establish contact with relatives of Henry Fisher and John Spencer.

I believe that in our modern society, with its often “24/7” pace of news coverage, many people look on war as almost a sport where a score is kept of the casualties of “us” versus “them”. So, the loss of 40,000 Australian service men and women in World War Two can become an impersonal thing. But war is far from impersonal. Each of those who served had a unique life history, shared with families and friends. Each death undoubtedly had a deep impact on both family and friends.

Roy Farnsworth, Henry Fisher, John Spencer and Robert Wesley-Smith were all well educated young men in their early twenties who may have enlisted with a sense of adventure, but each would also have been well aware of the prolonged slaughter that marked World War One. They would have accepted the fact that at some time in the future they also could become casualties in the service of our nation.
My father Dick Kendall was an older man aged 31. Born in 1909 in Hertfordshire, England he grew up much closer to the events of 1914- 1918. With a wife and three young sons, I doubt that he enlisted with a sense of adventure but rather in acknowledgement of the fact that these were desperate times for Australia and its friends. The situation became even more desperate with the entry of Japan into the war in December 1941.

I was just 8 months old when my father enlisted on 13 September 1941 and just over 12 months old when he died so I cannot remember him. Over the past 75 years I have had the opportunity of learning of the rich tapestry of life of the earlier generations of my family. I have enjoyed those things of life, which are so easy to take for granted – education, work, travel and community involvement. Above all, I have been blessed with family – my brothers, a half brother, a half sister, uncles, aunts and lots of cousins. My wife, Lilac and I have been married for 51 years and have enjoyed the pleasures and responsibilities of parenthood and then the later arrival of grandchildren.

All possibilities of such a life for Robbie Wesley-Smith, Roy Farnsworth, Henry Fisher, John Spencer and Dick Kendall ending within a few brutal seconds at around 2.00pm on 11th February 1942. 75 years on, we can still but think of them as young men.

Robbie Wesley-Smith was born on 19 November 1919 in Perth, WA. His father a Baptist minister, originally from Dublin, moved to Tasmania then to Perth before going to South Australia in 1929/30. Robbie finished school at King’s College, Adelaide in 1937, where he was a prefect and represented the college at Australian Rules football and in cricket. He worked as a clerk in the South Australian Lands Department until enlisting in the RAAF on 17 August 1940. His older brother, Henry served as an intelligence officer in HQ South West Pacific Area in World War Two while the middle brother, Brian (Terry’s father) enlisted in the RAAF after Robbie’s death and served in the Pacific as a navigator. Robbie’s service number is 407258 and as pilot of the Avro Anson, he held the rank of Flight Sergeant at the time of his death - news of his successful promotion to Pilot Officer had yet to reach him. At the age of 22, he was laid to rest at Mitchum Cemetery in Adelaide. In reading letters that were exchanged at the time, it was clear that his loss had a devastating impact on family members.

Roy Farnsworth was born on 13 December 1921 in North Strathfield, NSW and was as a descendant of several noted Ruby League players. He was one of three children of Ellen and Roy Farnsworth who lived on Concord Rd, North Strathfield. His father was a senior public servant. Roy was educated at Sydney Grammar School where he was a good student and sportsman. Having enlisted on 13 March 1941, his service number is 35439 and as wireless operator of the aircraft he held the rank of Aircraftsman 1. Roy’s younger brother Bill served in the Royal Australian Navy later in the war. At the age of 20 Roy was buried at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney. His untimely death was a shattering experience for the family, and it is said that his mother never really recovered from this.

Henry Fisher was born on 10 March 1921 at Cessnock, NSW and was educated at Fort Street High school in Sydney. Enlisting on 25 May 1941, his service number is 411764 and he held the rank of Leading Aircraftsman or Trainee Navigator at the time of his death. The records show that he was married to Cecilia Fisher at the time of enlistment although a search of newspaper records notes that they were divorced in 1941. I have found that he had a brother, James Wharton Severn Fisher who served in 142 Squadron RAF and died on 16 March 1944 as a crewmember of a Wellington bomber that went down in northern Italy. One can only imagine how the loss of two sons impacted on the Fisher family.

John Spencer was born on 30 May 1917 at Croydon Park, NSW and was also educated at Fort Street High School. He enlisted on 16th August 1941 and his service number is 413272. John also held the rank of Leading Aircraftsman or Trainee Navigator at the time of his death.

Dick Kendall was born on 31 October 1909 in Watford, England. His father worked for the British Postal Service and his mother came from Norway. They had three daughters and three sons. Dick was educated at St Albans School where he became a Lance Corporal in the Officer Training Corps and represented the school in rifle shooting competitions. He was granted a certificate to attend either Oxford or Cambridge University but decided to migrate to Childers, Queensland in 1927 to try his hand at farming. His two brothers William and Charles also migrated to Childers. When war broke out, William had to stay on his farm producing sugar. Charles joined the AIF and served in North Africa. Dick who had married my mother Lillian (Kit) Garland in 1934 was a popular and well-liked member of the local community. Having enlisted on 13th September 1941, his service number is 414356 and he held the rank of Leading Aircraftsman or Trainee Navigator at the time of his death, leaving his three sons Peter, Tony and Ross with their grieving mother.

My older brother Peter cannot attend today’s service. Our middle brother, Tony passed away in 2011. I am accompanied by my two children, Andrew Kendall and Raylene Kendall and by Raylene’s children Sarah and Jacob. My mother’s brother Ron Garland was one of my father’s best mates. Two of Ron’s children, Cherelle with her husband Vince Mungomery, and Jim Garland with his wife Liz are with us today. Vince’s father Ted was also a good mate of my dad.

Yesterday, we visited the cemetery at Cootamundra where Henry Fisher and John Spencer lie on each side of my father. I understand that no family members attended their burial service in February 1942. I also understand that my mother could never bring herself to visit his grave. We do not know if grieving Fisher and Spencer family members ever visited the graves.

Included with the sparse number of papers that were kept by my mother, is a poem dated 24th April 1942 and written by a mate or mates from No. 1 Air Observers School to be read at the Cootamundra Anzac service exactly 75 years ago today. It encapsulates the camaraderie and acknowledgement of sacrifice of the young men at that time.

My granddaughter, Sarah Kendall, Dick Kendall’s great granddaughter, will read this poem as a fitting tribute to all five young men.

Cootamundra 24th April 1942.

They went; as all good airmen must;
A life above the clouds, returneth soon to dust,
They will be missed, but forgotten by us – never;
True friendship is a tie that death still fails to sever.

They gave their all to keep their country free,
Yet they still live with us – alive in memory.
No D.F.C’s adorned their mighty breasts,
No sobbing nation’s grief is heralding their rest;

They went; and yet by their decease,
Another step is made to bring their country peace;
And this we know, each new recruit,
Will raise his O6 high, a silent terse salute.
While fog and rains grow dim and denser:
To heroes, though unsung; KENDALL, FISHER, SPENCER.

You probably do not know what and “O6” was. I understand that it is a small beer glass and, only last night, my cousin Jim who is a retired RAAF Wing Commander confirmed this. I now raise a glass in symbolic salute to those five unsung heroes - ROY FARNSWORTH, HENRY FISHER, DICK KENDALL, JOHN SPENCER AND ROBBIE WESLEY- SMITH.

I raise it again to all those from the Ungarie district whose names are listed here behind me.


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Biography contributed by Elizabeth Allen

Arthur Didrik KENDALL was born in Watford, England on 31st October, 1909

His parents were Arthur KENDALL & Laura Regina DAVIDSON who married in England in 1900 (registered in Pancras)

He married Lillian Mildred Jessie GARLAND on 31st October, 1934 in Queensland - 3 sons, Peter, Tony & Ross

Biography contributed by David Barlow

Loss of Avro Anson aircraft AW677 of 1 Air Observer School near Ungarie, NSW - All crew killed:

Pilot Officer Robert Clark Wesley-Smith (aka Smith, Robert Clark Wesley) 407258

Leading Aircraftman Arthur Didrick Kendall 414356

Leading Aircraftman John Alfred Spencer 413272

Leading Aircraftman Henry Heath Fisher 411764

Aircraftman Roy Eric Farnsworth 35439