Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District
Wartime airman’s 60 missions in Lancaster bomber
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.
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.