In the first of three parts, Wray historian David Kenyon looks back at the life and times during World War Two of one of his ancestors, Joseph Bernard Kenyon.
Joseph Bernard Kenyon, known as Bernard, was born at lower Lee Farm, Wyresdale, in 1919, and was the eldest son of Fergie and Jane Kenyon.
After leaving Lancaster Royal Grammar School, Bernard worked at Williamson’s linoleum factory as an analytical chemist.
In 1939, Bernard expected to begin medical studies at Liverpool Medical School.
However, with the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the King’s Own Territorial Army Unit in Lancaster, before moving to the fifth battalion of the King’s Own Regiment.
Bernard arrived in France, at the Belgian front, in May 1940.
He described the fighting he encountered as follows:
“Suddenly, all hell broke loose! The Germans were advancing on the Low Countries, so we went up into the Low Countries too and then up into Belgium to Tournai.
“We were then in the rear guard action towards the coast, passing through Armentieres in France, as the Germans attacked the other end of town.”
Next week we have an account, written by Bernard from his hospital bed, which vividly describes his evacuation from Dunkirk in June 1940.
The letter was found after his death in 2012.