Peacock, Kenneth Lawrence

Kenneth, or Ken as he was known to his friends, was born in Magill, South Australia, on the 26th March 1924 and he enlisted in the RAAF in Adelaide on the 30th January 1943.

After completing his training, Ken was posted to 457 Squadron flying Spitfires from August 1944 to July 1945. At that stage of the War, 457 Squadron had just been transferred to the newly formed No.80 Wing. The air defence of Darwin had been handed over to several Royal Air Force squadrons, and the Wing had been established to support a planned offensive from Darwin into the Netherlands East Indies. Incredibly, the offensive had been cancelled in June, but this had not been communicated to the Wing, which continued to train for the operation until August. After the operation was cancelled, the Wing and its Squadrons had no purpose, but continued to conduct training exercises as a means of maintaining morale.

According to an ADF Serials Report, on the 28th August 1944, Ken was involved in a crash Landing at Sattler Strip near Darwin. He lost his pneumatics after his flaps retracted up and this meant he had to carry out a very high speed landing with no flaps. He also had no brakes, so after touching down he eventually veered off the strip and ended up in ditch. Ken was not injured, but his Spitfire was beyond economical repair.

In February 1945, the Wing moved to Morotai Island in the Netherlands East Indies to take part in Allied offensives in Borneo. Its main roles in this period were to conduct ground attack missions against Japanese camps and shipping, as well as escorting other aircraft engaged in attacking these targets. This involved a heavy workload, and the Squadron flew over 293 operational sorties between February and the end of April. From May, 457 Squadron’s Spitfires began using dive bombing tactics as well as strafing targets with their guns.

457 Squadron then participated in the Borneo Campaign as part of No.81 Wing. On the 17th June 1945, the Spitfires departed Morotai for Labuan Island off the north-west coast of Borneo and commenced operations two days later alongside 76 Squadron RAAF. Their primary roles were to provide air support to Allied troops in the area and air defence for the island. Operations against the Japanese continued until the Squadron mounted its last operational sorties on 13 August, two days before the Japanese surrender. However, by this time, Ken had just finished his tour and had been shipped home.

In May 1945, his Commanding Officer, Bruce Watson, assessed Ken as having “developed into a solid and determined fighter pilot” and would become “a useful leader.” 

Peacock Kenneth Pic 3

The photo is of 457 Squadron at Sattler in November 1944. From left to right, standing on the wing:  John T. “Dinga” Bell, Bob Bawden, Leslie Alan Leeming, and William O. “Bill” Cable, John L. “Jack” Seelenmeyer, Albert L. “Smokey” Lumley, Kenneth B. May, Ronald M. Snowden. 
Sitting on wing: Douglas R. Beattie, Kevin M. “Kel” Barclay, John R. Sturm, Geoffrey “Swampy” T. Marsh (not confirmed) and Peter Ward. 
Standing on ground: Bob Addison (Intelligence Officer), Norman L. Vidler, Eric “Shaggy” McGeehan (Engineering Officer), Bill Stanton (Adjutant), Len Gillam (Defence Officer), Edward L. “Ted” Sly (B Flight), Lyndon S. “Lyn” Compton (A Flight), James H. “Jimmy” Greaves, David “Dave” Warrell, William J. “Bill” Crystal, John F. Dale, Kenneth D. McLeod. 
Front row: Bruce Miels, Kenneth L. Peacock, Thomas H. “Tom” Trimble (Ex CO), Clive R. Caldwell, Bruce D. Watson (CO), Wilfred G. “Wally” Dial, Frank L. Rouch.

Ken was discharged on the 4th October 1945.

Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association