Kenneth was born on the 16th of July 1916 in Roma, Queensland. In September 1940, he joined the RAAF and commenced training as a pilot at Narrandra, NSW. In 1941, he left for further training in Ottawa, Canada, and was then posted to England in the same year.
After Kenny arrived in England, he was posted to Heston, South London, and joined a Spitfire Squadron. He then had an immediate posting to RAAF 452 Squadron. Tours of duty consisted of sweeps over France and convoy patrols over the English Channel. 452 Squadron was then posted to the Isle of Man and there, Kenny trained other pilots.
The following edited report is of typical day for Kenny:
P/O Lamerton took off with Sgt Bassett (Kenny) for a defensive patrol at 25,000 feet over Mull of Galloway. While climbing and when at 20,000 feet they saw a Ju88 about 5,000 ft above and the E/A (Enemy Aircraft) was flying on a South Easterly course towards the coast. They manoeuvred to get into the sun. P/O Lamberton’s attack was from astern and above. He gave a long burst of 3-4 seconds and silenced the top rear gunner using cannon at a range of 300 yards. However P/O Lamerton’s aircraft was hit by return fire and flames and smoke from the exhaust and cowling soon appeared. He could see ahead and called up saying that he was baling out, which he did from an altitude of 12,000 feet. He was picked up six hours later. Meanwhile Sgt Basset continued to attack the Ju88, but was unable to close to a short range, and was recalled to base after he expended all his ammo, landing at 07:55. He claimed a damaged aircraft shared with P/O Lamerton. It was the last claim of the Squadron while stationed in England. P/O Lamerton was from South Australia and had joined the Squadron three months before from OTU. He was later killed with the Squadron.
Kenny eventually returned to Australia to the defend Darwin in the very dangerous skies over Australia and the Pacific against a determined and resourceful enemy.
Kenny married Eddie in 1942, and was posted to Tasmania mostly training pilots for the remainder of the war. He was discharged from the Air Force in 1945, and after War’s end, he returned to Roma with his family. In 1963 the family moved to Brisbane finally settling St Lucia, where he lived for the rest of his life. He passed away on the 31st May 2006. Kenny was a passionate airman, sportsman, husband, father and friend. Dicing with death obviously whetted his appetite for games of chance and buying Gold Lotto and Scratchies were an integral part of life. He is much loved and much missed by his family and friends.
The photo, taken in 1953, from left to right, is of Kenny, John Makin and John “Bis” Bisley.
Edited Bruce Read and Paul Carter
Reviewed by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association