Wexford Arnhem Veteran Honoured By People of Netherlands
At a special Covid ceremony in Enniscorthy Castle on 18 September, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, HE Adriaan Palm (from Arnhem), honoured Wexfordman Mr. Sam Kendrick, the last known Irish veteran of the Battle of Arnhem, for his part in the liberation of the Netherlands.
Sam, who is 95 years old and from Kilmore, served with the Parachute Regiment during the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944.
Earlier in May this year, the Ambassador had presented the Medal of Remembrance to Mr Kendrick in a virtual ceremony attended by Mr Kendrick’s friend and neighbour, Lt. Col. Ken Martin of the Royal British Legion Republic of Ireland.
The Ambassador said: ‘Sam Kendrick is one of those heroes, who as part of the Allied Forces, risked his life for our freedom in the Battle of Arnhem and elsewhere – he is also one of the very few who are still alive and can recount those days’.
Sam’s story was recorded in Dark Times, Decent Men – Stories of Irishmen in World War II, by historian Neil Richardson. He had left Wexford at 14 to work on a farm in the UK. When he was 16 he joined the Royal Navy. In 1943, he transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers and then to the Parachute Regiment. On the 17 September 1944, he took off from RAF Folkingham as part of the airborne component of Operation Market Garden. Their objective was Arnhem and capturing a bridge over the River Rhine.
Equipped with a flame thrower, Sam landed with his comrades near the town of Oosterbeck where they encountered a German force comprising five tanks, 15 half tracks and enemy infantry. During the engagement Sam was hit in the foot by shrapnel. They were later involved in a firefight around St Elizabeth’s Hospital as they tried to break through to British units at the Arnhem Bridge but were forced back to Oosterbeek and cut off.
Sam was taken prisoner and sent to Germany. He was liberated by American troops in April 1945. Almost every year since he has returned to the Netherlands to remember his fallen comrades in Arnhem commemorations.
Ambassador Palm thanked Sam and all the former British and Irish servicemen and women who helped bring peace and freedom to the Netherlands: ‘Operation Market Garden offered a signal of hope for the Netherlands at the time. Hope for liberation and hope for a better future’.
Thank you to Barry Roche from the Irish Times, the Embassy of the Netherlands in Ireland, and the Royal British Legion for images and information on this event.