Fred Kendall was born in Woodstock, Ontario on March 7, 1927. His father was a Great War veteran who ran a cartage company, so even against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the large family (Fred had eight siblings) did well. Fred joined up when he was in Grade 10 – and only 16. Three of his older brothers were already in the war, and he wanted to join them – and to make sure they did not get ahead of him. Fred attempted to join the navy but when they did not accept him he went down the hall to the RCAF recruiter, where he was accepted even without the birth certificate that would have foiled him. Fred went into the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan at that time, and he was selected as a Wireless Air Gunner (WAG), so he went to Guelph for specialized training in communications. That was followed by gunnery training in Fingal, where Fred graduated and got his wings. By then the war was winding down, so he was reassigned to Ottawa, where he played a role in the repatriation process. Fred in his words felt “jilted”: he had trained to go overseas and do his part, but he didn’t get the chance. He decided to go out west, wanting to visit Vancouver and perhaps see his brother, whose ship had returned to Canada. He wasn’t able to do that, but Fred had a few experiences and met some new people on the journey. Back in Ontario, he was discharged; soon Fred married, and he and his wife moved around southern Ontario, finding their way in the postwar rhythms of Canada. Fred Kendall was interviewed by Scott Masters at his home in Oakville in July 2022.
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