Kenneth Joseph HANSEN

Serial Number: NZ422992
RNZAF Trade: Aircrafthand (General Duties), then Wireless Operator-Air Gunner
Date of Enlistment: 6th of May 1942
Rank Achieved: Flight Sergeant
Flying Hours: 214 hours
Operational Sorties: Nil

Date of Birth: 21st of September 1921, in Cambridge
Personal Details: Kenneth was the son of Hans Helge Wagner Hansen, and Isabel Hansen (nee Swetman, later Sardelich). He was educated at Northcote Intermediate School, and became a farmer on the property of Mr. D. Christie near Te Awamutu.

Service Details: Kenneth served for four and a half years in the New Zealand Territorial Army with the 15th North Auckland Regiment. He joined the RNZAF on the 6th of May 1942 at Ohakea as an Aircrafthand (General Duties). On the 6th of June 1942 Kenneth started training at the Initial Training Wing, RNZAF Station Levin, and on the 15th of that month he officially remustered to become a Wireless Operator-Air Gunner under training.

Kenneth embarked for Canada on the 20th of July 1942, and was attached to the Royal Canadian Air Force on the 18th of August 1942. The following day he arrived at No. 1 M Depot to await a course, and on the 30th of that month he was posted to No. 3 Wireless School at Winnipeg, Manitoba.

After passing his wireless training, Kenneth was posted to No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School, at Lethbridge, Alberta, on the 17th of April 1943.

On the 31st of May 1943 Kenneth passed out of training, being awarded his Air Gunner's badge, and being promoted to Sergeant. He was also remustered to officially be part of the trade as a Wireless Operator-Air Gunner.

Kenneth was posted next on the 12th of June 1943 to No. 36 Operational Training Unit, RAF, which was flying Lockheed Hudsons from Greenwood, Nova Scotia. After three months he proceeded on the 11th of September to No. 1 Y Depot, Halifax to await a troopship to England. He was now attached to the Royal Air Force and set sail for the UK on the 13th of September 1943.

On arrival seven days later Kenneth was posted to No. 12 Personnel Dispatch & Reception Centre, where he awaited the next course. This came on the 2nd of November 1943 when he reported to No. 104 Operational Training Unit to gain experience on Vickers Wellingtons.

On the 21st of December 1943 Kenneth was posted to No. 44 Group, and on the 11th of January 1944 he became a member of No. 1 Ferry Crew Pool. based at Melton Mobray in Leicestershire. Whilst here Kenneth would be used by No. 1 Overseas Aircraft Despatch Unit, part of Ferry Command, to act as Wireless Operator aboard aircraft being ferried from Britain to overseas stations.

On the 6th of February 1944 Kenneth was part of a crew that ferried a Vickers Wellington bomber to Morocco, returning to Britain aboard a Consolidated Liberator by the 11th of February.

On another ferrying trip, Kenneth was aboard another Wellington X, serial number LP199, piloted by Flying Officer George Ballard, RAAF. They took off from Portreath, Cornwall, at 02.25hrs and headed south, well out to sea away from enemy fighter cover. As they were making their final approach to Gibraltar, and were only two miles out, when the aircraft stalled just 40 feet off the water, and crashed into the sea. It is believed that the airspeed was inadvertantly allowed to drop too low while the pilot concentrated on his approach to the aerodrome in poor weatther.

Date of Death : 6th of March 1944, in the sea off Gibraltar, aged 22
Commemorated on: The Runnymede Memorial

Connection with Cambridge: Kenneth was born in Cambridge

Thanks To: Errol Martyn for providing information on this airman, and further details from his books For Your Tomorrow Volumes 1 to 3


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