A wartime story of bravery, good fortune and romance

The Kenyon family, Lower Lee Farm, Wyresdale, 1930s.'Back row from left: Bernard, Ronald and Freddie Kenyon.'Front row : Fergie, Dorothy and Jane Kenyon.'Bernard Kenyon became a GP in 1952. Ronald had a cattle transportation business, now run by his son Paul. Freddie was a farm worker and worked for many years at the Royal Albert Farm, Lancaster. Fergie Kenyon was born at Wray and made clog blocks with author David Kenyon's grandfather, William Kenyon. He later rented Lower Lee Farm from Lord Sefton. Dorothy was a music teacher all her working life, while Jane Kenyon, nee Pye, Fergie's wife, was born at Lower Emmetts Farm, Wyresdale. She had seven brothers and one sister.
The Kenyon family, Lower Lee Farm, Wyresdale, 1930s.'Back row from left: Bernard, Ronald and Freddie Kenyon.'Front row : Fergie, Dorothy and Jane Kenyon.'Bernard Kenyon became a GP in 1952. Ronald had a cattle transportation business, now run by his son Paul. Freddie was a farm worker and worked for many years at the Royal Albert Farm, Lancaster. Fergie Kenyon was born at Wray and made clog blocks with author David Kenyon's grandfather, William Kenyon. He later rented Lower Lee Farm from Lord Sefton. Dorothy was a music teacher all her working life, while Jane Kenyon, nee Pye, Fergie's wife, was born at Lower Emmetts Farm, Wyresdale. She had seven brothers and one sister.

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.

Sgt Joseph Bernard Kenyon, proudly wearing the cap badge of the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, December 1940.

Sgt Joseph Bernard Kenyon, proudly wearing the cap badge of the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, December 1940.

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.