Service Number: NZ415188
RNZAF Trade: Pilot
Date of Enlistment: 7th of September 1941
Rank Achieved: Flying Officer
Flying Hours: 428 hours
Operational Sorties: 0 ops
Date of Birth: 21st of February 1921 in Christchurch, NZ
Personal Details: Keith was the son of Sydney Alfred and Ruby Elsie Hancock, of Naylor Street, Hamilton. He was educated at Christ's College, Christchurch, and subsequently at Canterbury University College. His educational qualifications included Matriculation, Higher Leaving Certificate, 1st Stage BA and 1st Stage B.Sc.
He enjoyed playing rugby, cricket, tennis, golf and running. He had also spent four years in the school cadets.
He became a schoolteacher, and prior to enlisting in the RNZAF Keith had taught for six years at St Peter's School in Cambridge. Had he not been killed, Keith was to have married Miss Alstan Lippincott of Los Angeles, who was the daughter of one of the architects of the school where he had worked.
Albert's brother Private Desmond Field Hancock had been posted missing in the Middle East for fifteen months before Albert's death. Desmond had also been killed.
Service Details: Albert was called up in the 4th Ballot in August 1941, and he joined the RNZAF on the 7th of September 1941 at the Initial Training Wing at Levin. Following a Ground Training Course there he proceeded to No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Harewood, Christchurch, to undergo training as a pilot.
In November 1941 he transferred to No. 2 Service Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Woodbourne, Blenheim, where he successfully completed his training. He was awarded his pilot's badge in early 1942, with a distinguished pass, and was promoted to the rank of Pilot Officer.
Having done so well in his flying training, as was the system he was selected to become an instructor. So Keith was posted to the Central Flying School at RNZAF Station Tauranga to undergo training in this role. He soon completed the course and rose in rank to Flying Officer.
He posted to No. 2 Service Flying Training School at Woodbourne where he passed on his skills to young pilots for nine months. Then on the 15th of September 1943 he was posted to serve with the Touring Flight of the Air Training Corps, which was based at RNZAF Station Rongotai. This unit toured the country allowing ATC cadets to take rides and gain aerial experience, and as many ATC cadets would soon be pilots themselves in the RNZAF, this was considered important work. Keith's role on the flight was dubbed 'special duties'.
Details of Death: Whilst operating with the ATC Touring Flight from RNZAF Rongotai, Albert Keith Hancock was in Westport giving passenger flights to members of the Air Training Corps. He was piloting De Havilland Tiger Moth NZ1410 on the 16th of October 1943, over Carters Beach, Westport when the aircraft failed to recover from a stall turn performed at 1000 to 1500 feet.
The aircraft crashed at 15.40hrs, and Keith died at the scene, aged 30. His passenger, Mr Dudley L Wade, a school teacher from Granity, was badly injured and admitted to hospital. Albert's funeral was held at St Peters Cathedral in Hamilton, and his pallbearers were Flying Officers BH Deighton, OW Bayly, F Hiom, JA Robb, and NA Kitto, and Flight Lieutenant A Baldwin. Also among the mourners was Mr A.F.B. Broadhurst, the headmaster of St Peter's School in Cambridge, along with a large contingent of boys from the school.
Buried at: Albert was buried in a Commonwealth War Grave at the Hamilton East Public Cemetery, at Public Area F2, Row F, Grave 1
Connection with Cambridge: Keith had lived and taught in Cambridge for six years before the war and so is considered a Cambridge resident for this site. However he is not commemorated on the Cambridge Cenotaph which is surely a mistaken omission