“A Lifetime of Service:
The following notice was posted in Flash to mark the close of the remarkable career of Commander C E K Kendall-Carpenter, who finally retired from the service after 56 years on 30 June 1962:
“When one’s day of retirement finally arrives, it is not unnatural to look back with pride over some 40 to 45 years of service, but, when on retirement one can lay claim to 56 years of service, it must certainly be a unique occasion. Such is the proud record of Commander C. E. K. Kendall-Carpenter T.H.S. (Ret’d) who finally retired from the Service on 30th June 1962.
Kendall-Carpenter’s service life spanned the years between 1906 and 1962, and a more chequered career one cannot imagine. ‘Tim’, as he is known to his many friends, was always a big man in every sense of the word, and during his career took more than his fair share of knocks. In fact the story of his service life reads almost like a chapter of accidents.
On 17th May, 1906, Kendall-Carpenter, then 15½ years old, joined the Steam Vessel Service as an apprentice, and his service life very nearly ended in tragedy during the following winter. He was at that time serving aboard the old Satellite at Harwich, and, on a particularly cold night, his fellow apprentice stoked up the stove in their quarters and shut off all the ventilation. Both were very nearly asphyxiated, but were luckily rescued and revived by the watch on deck.
Between then and the outbreak of the First World War he attended several Royal Fleet Reviews, and succeeded in collecting two injuries; the first two of many. One being a particularly nasty crack on the head from the jib of the crane at Blackwall. Early in 1914, Kendall-Carpenter volunteered for service in the Imperial Lighthouse Service of Ceylon and shortly after the outbreak of war sailed for Ceylon in their ship Beacon. On the voyage the Beacon was twice intercepted by the German cruiser Emden, but managed to take evasive action on both occasions. Kendall-Carpenter, however, received an injury to his right leg, and on arrival in Colombo, had to proceed to hospital for two operations. After a few months of treatment he was able to take up his appointment in Beacon.
During his service in Ceylon, he managed to get himself involved in the native riots which were flaring up at that time, serving as a captain in the native auxiliary military forces. Needless to say he was soon in the thick of it, and once again suffered several hard knocks, this time at the hands of the rioting mobs.
His service in Ceylon was cut short in 1916 by malaria and an attack of tropical neurasthenia, and as a result he returned to England. After a period of recuperation, he was back with his first love, the Trinity House Service. In typical style, he was soon volunteering again, this time for buoy laying duties off North Russian in liaison with the Royal Navy. He set off for Russia in H.M.T. Wirral but she was unfortunately torpedoed by an enemy submarine off Norway. Kendall-Carpenter was picked up and landed in the Shetlands. Undaunted, he again volunteered for the duties in the White Sea, and this time, although his ship was again attacked, he managed to get through.
The revolution in Russia was in full swing, and after a short and uncomfortable stay, all were ordered back to the United Kingdom. Eight ships, loaded with refugees, left in convoy, but only two got through. For once, Kendall-Carpenter was one of the lucky ones.
For the remainder of the war, he served in Trinity House Vessels in the Dover Patrol Area, seeing plenty of action, laying anti-submarine nets, decoy buoys etc., and he was aboard Argus as acting 1st Officer at the Zeebrugge landings, laying buoys for the attacking forces. Once again, his reward for zealous service, was yet another injury, this time to his right arm, and indeed, he lost the use of the arm as a result of the injury.
He was in and out of hospital for several months but having been patched up, he again returned to serve in Trinity House Vessels. During the twenties he served in many vessels as 1st Officer. In 1930, in view of his distinguished War Service, he was chosen to represent the Trinity House Service at the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey.
Then came the Second World War and once again ill-luck struck a blow. This time he was injured aboard Satellite at Yarmouth whilst manning the ship’s guns during an air attack. This led to more operations, but yet again he came back. For the remainder of the war he managed to steer clear of physical injury, and continued to serve at sea until 1951 when the many injuries which he had sustained again began to take their toll and he was forced to retire from active sea service.
However, the prospect of an inactive retirement did not appeal to this forceful character and he then took on the job of telephone watchkeeper at Penzance Depot. During these latter years it must have been most gratifying for him to see his son making an illustrious name for himself academically and in the field of sport; captain of both the Oxford and England rugby teams over two years.
All things must come to an end, however, and the time has now arrived for ‘Tim’ to say goodbye to the Service. Most of his contemporaries in the Steam Vessel Service have long since gone their separate ways, but one thing is certain and that is that all his friends and acquaintances will want to join in wishing him and his wife many happy years of well deserved retirement.
For our part we are proud to be able to announce that in recognition of his long and loyal service, the Elder Brethren have granted him the rank of Commander T.H.S. (Retired) – truly a well deserved tribute to one who has served the Trinity House so faithfully and so well throughout almost the whole of his active life.”