Henry George Kendall

Henry George Kendall (January 1874 - November 29, 1965) was an English sea captain.

Captain Henry Kendall began his career in sailing ships in 1888 - at the age of 14. In 1900 he survived a shipwreck on the Newfoundland coast when he was an officer on the SS Lusitania (an earlier ship than the celebrated "RMS Lusitania"). Two years later he worked with Guglielmo Marconi to develop ship-to-shore radio before getting his first command in 1908. Two years later he was appointed captain of the Canadian Pacific Line's SS Montrose and within months had become famous following his role in the capture of Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen, the London cellar murderer, in what was the first use of radio to capture a criminal. Kendall's radio messages alerted Scotland Yard and Inspector Dew was dispatched to Canada on the faster ship, the White Star Line's SS Laurentic, and arrived in Canada before the Montrose. Disguised as a pilot, Dew boarded the Montrose and Crippen was arrested.

There is a legend that when Crippen recognized Dew on board the Montrose he realized that Kendall had somehow betrayed him and his lover Ethel Le Neve to the police. He supposedly cursed the Captain and any ship he would ever sail in.

In May 1914 Kendall was appointed Captain of the RMS "Empress of Ireland". A month later the ship sank in Canada's Saint Lawrence River after colliding with the "Storstad", a Norwegian coal freighter with an ice-breaking bow. The accident occurred at night. The two ships were head to head when a fog bank rolled onto the river and the Storstad changed position, believing the Empress to be on the Storstad's port side. This turned the freighter into the side of the larger ship, which was passing on the starboard side. The damage was catastrophic and the Empress sank in just 14 minutes with the loss of 1,012 people. Kendall was thrown from the bridge when the ship keeled over suddenly and he survived. He was cleared of all charges in the disaster.

Soon afterwards he was posted to Antwerp in Belgium, where he was soon in the news again. As the Germans invaded Belgium, the British Consulate in Antwerp was besieged by around 600 refugees. Kendall worked with the consul Sir Cecil Hertslet to formulate a plan to rescue them by using the SS Montrose to tow the SS Montreal, which was out of commission, out of the port and on to England.

Kendall then joined the crew of "HMS Calgarian" and served with the ship until 1918, during which time he was mentioned in despatches on several occasions. In March 1918 the Calgarian was torpedoed off the Ulster coast by Unterseeboot 19 but Kendall survived again. He went on to serve as a King's Messenger before being appointed Commodore of Convoys. When the war ended he was appointed Marine Superintendent at Southampton by Canadian Pacific and remained there until he moved to a similar position in London in 1924. He died in an English nursing home in 1965 at the age of 91.

His grandson is the Anglican priest and hymn writer Canon Michael Saward and his great grandchildren include F1 journalist Joe Saward and rape campaigner Jill Saward


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