THE son of a war hero has won an eight-year personal battle to get his father recognised for his bravery during the Second World War.
Mick Kennedy set off on the trail of the military awards belonging to his late father George Henry Kennedy in 2006.
And after an eight year campaign, the 60-year-old’s persistence paid off and he is now the proud keeper of his dad’s prestigious naval medals.
As well as the Arctic Star, he had also been commended with the Atlantic Star, the 1939-45 War Medal, and the 1945 Star.
George, also known as Scara, grew up on the Headland, in Hartlepool, and ran away from home when he was 14.
He forged his birth certificate to make it look like was born in 1926, rather than 1927, so that he was old enough to serve his country in the Second World War. He joined the Empire Lakes Merchant Navy Vessels as a scullion, or galley boy, cleaning and washing the ships.
Determined George then worked as a greaser in the engine rooms of the Russian Convoys, and the Royal Navy’s HMS Nairana aircraft carrier, which carried planes that would eventually sink German boats, in 1944, when he was aged about 17.
Mick’s battle started in 2006 when he realised his dad should have been awarded the Arctic Star, but after contacting the Ministry of Defence and was then passed onto organisations such as National Archives, and the Royal Navy.
He faced problems because he did not have enough information about his dad’s service history but after he paid £70 fee to the National Archives to complete a search, it threw up everything he had been looking for.
George’s full service history showed there were four medals he should have been given.
Mick, a dad-of-two, from Elwick, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, said: “I was absolutely choked and I was so happy to get the medals for him. It’s almost as though they’re in their rightful place.
“It means so much, it means he had a purpose and he wasn’t just a flash in a pan. He was somebody really important and I’m so proud that he was my dad.
“He did that service, which was hell, and he’s been recognised for it.”
George was 24 when he married Mick’s mum Sheila Foster when she was 17.
They lived in Howard Street on the Headland and went on to have five children, Jennifer Harvey, now 63, Dave Kennedy, 62, Steve Kennedy, 61, Mick, and Paul Kennedy, 58.
The pair divorced in 1971 and George married mum-of-five Janet Kennedy, nee Clark, and they lived in Newholm Court, behind the Traveller’s Rest pub.
George, who was a self-employed builder after his years in the war, rarely spoke about his service and never mentioned to his family that he was awarded honours for it.
He passed away after a battle with cancer aged 73 in 2001, with his wife passing away 10 years later in 2011.
Nursing home director Mick, who is married to Annie, 58, a chef said: “My dad kept really quiet about it all. I remember we were out putting boards up for Manners and Harrison and I used to say how freezing it was. He would say ‘you don’t know what cold is’ because his hands got stuck to the railings of a ship at one time.
“I think the war left him scarred, he saw such a lot of people die. He saw a ship get sunk and there were bodies floating in the water, he didn’t talk about it much.”