Wartime airman’s 60 mis­sions in Lan­caster bomber

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Obituaries -

THE funeral takes place in Herne to­mor­row (Fri­day) of a for­mer RAF hero who flew 60 mis­sions in Lan­caster bombers dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

Ken Denly, who was awarded the Dis­tin­guished Fly­ing Cross for his brav­ery, went on to be­come a fire­man in Herne Bay and was a keen lo­cal crick­eter.

He died last week aged 89 hav­ing suf­fered with Alzheimer’s in the later years of his life.

His funeral is at Herne church at 2.30pm which will be fol­lowed by a cre­ma­tion at Barham at 4pm.

Limped home

Dur­ing the war he was a mem­ber of 115 Squadron based at Ely in Cam­bridgeshir­e where he re­turned for re­unions and kept in touch with the two re­main­ing other crew mem­bers of his Lan­caster, which they nick­named Bad Penny.

Ken was 18 when he joined RAF and later re­called the many close shaves he had as their plane limped home af­ter raids over Ger­many.

He and his wife Madge, who were mar­ried for 62 years, moved to Herne Bay in the 1950s and Ken joined the fire ser­vice in the town where he was sta­tioned for around 20 years be­fore re­tir­ing.

Madge, 82, of Ri­d­ley Close, Herne, said: “Ken used to talk a bit about what hap­pened dur­ing the raids.

“He was the bomb aimer and I know they got into quite a few scrapes and were lucky to make it back.

“He al­ways thought the bomber crews, who suf­fered big losses, never quite got the recog­ni­tion they de­served.

“Un­for­tu­nately, by the time that was put right and a memo­rial to Bomber Com­mand un­veiled by the Queen in Lon­don in June, he was in the ad­vanced stages of de­men­tia and un­able to ap­pre­ci­ate it.

“But we would like to thank the staff who cared for him on the de­men­tia unit at Sit­ting­bourne.

The cou­ple had four chil­dren, Nick, Jane and Louise but trag­i­cally lost an­other daugh­ter, Linda to a brain tu­mour when she was just 18 months.

Ken was a lead­ing fire­man and his daugh­ter, Louise Smith re­called: “He at­tended many fires and road ac­ci­dents, one of the largest was when the pier burnt down.

“Each night he lay his trousers and shirt on the floor be­side the bed for a quick get away.

“In the early days we had a large bell that would ring and wake the whole house, the old war siren would ring for fire­man that were out in the town.

“I re­mem­ber be­ing left in our car of­ten and be­ing told to wait un­til he got back, but I al­ways sneaked up to the road and waved him off in the fire engine.”

Away from work and his fam­ily, Ken’s pas­sion was sport, and par­tic­u­larly cricket and he played for Whit­stable.

His son Nick caught the sport­ing bug too and still plays for Whistable’s 2nd team.

Their love of the game was passed to his grand­sons Joe, who went on to play pro­fes­sion­ally for Kent and now Mid­dle­sex and Sam who cap­tains Whit­stable’s first team.

Among the many pay­ing their re­spects at Ken’s funeral are expected to be mem­bers of the lo­cal branch of the Royal Air Forces As­so­ci­a­tion and fire­fight­ers from Herne Bay.

Ken Denly, who has died aged 89

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