© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons
No. 11 Air Vice Marshal Keith Selwyn Hennock CBE DFC
First Commanding Officer (19.4.42 to 14.9.42)
No. 459 RAAF Hudson Squadron
Desert Air Force ME Command
Keith Hennock, a pre-war entrant to the permanent RAAF, died 9.8.1999 after spending 39 years service. A full RAAF ceremonial Remembrance Service at St James’ Anglican church, King Street, Sydney marked the occasion on 13 August 1999. He had been 459 RAAF’s first Commanding Officer and his own first command. He rose to the rank of Air Vice Marshal before retirement in 1975.
In the 454 and 459 Combined Squadrons’ Association publication celebrating the 50th anniversary of the formation of the 454 and 459 Squadrons in the ME in 1942 a condensed summary of his RAAF career from 1936 to 1975 was published. It reads:
* June 1936 enlisted for WT operator training
* 1938 Pilot training (22 Course)
* 1938-40 6 Squadron RAAF to Flight Cmdr
* 1940-42 Exchange Duties with RAF
* 1941 Flight Cmdr 206 Squadron RAF Coastal Command
* 19.4.42 – 4.9.42 First CO No. 459 Sqn RAAF ME – G R Hudsons – during its most successful phase (with some significant losses)
* 1942 Chief Instructor No. 1 OTU East Sale
* CO No. 2 Hudson Sqdn Darwin NT – DFC awarded
* Mar 194 – Director Ops Requirements
* SAO Point Cook
* SASO HQ Easter Area
* CO 391 Base Sqdn Iwakuni Japan
* CO RAAF Station Fairbairn Canberra
* Air Attache Wash DC USA
* OC 82 (B) Wing Amberley
* 1963 Imperial Defence College London
* 1964-67 Dept Air Director of General Plans and Policy
* Chief of Staff Far East Air Force Singapore (During Vietnam War)
* 1970-72 AOC Support Command
* 1972-75 Air Member for Personnel
* 1975 Retired as AVM CBE DFC
Six members of the Association attended the Remembrance Service on a very somber day. Jo McDermott (Mark II daughter as she put it) delivered a very moving Tribute to Keith “as a father, an air force officer, and a man”! She mentioned his early RAAF service, his exchange duty with the RAF’s Coastal Command flying Hudsons in wartime operations over the North Sea, the English Channel, the Dutch Coast and the Bay of Biscay; then his hectic command period as the first Commanding Officer of No. 459 RAAF Squadron until the end of his 2 year exchange duty wit the RAF.
After his experience as Chief Flying Instructor at East Sale at 25 years of age he became CO of No. 2 Squadron based at Darwin NT flying Hudsons, and was awarded the DFC for action against the Japanese navy.
He was 27 years of age at the end of World War II, and now married to Verna. Serving with the Occupation forces in Japan he was involved in the Korean war. As Jo mentions the family, moving with Keith to his many subsequent postings, began “a journey that took them to every corner of the Earth, to adventure, spanning half a century it seemed; to Washington DC, USA; converting to jet flying (Canberra Bomber); in 1963 converting to Hercules C130 aircraft; still in command, fit and flying at 50 years of age.”
Promoted to Air Vice Marshal, he moved to Lapstone as AOC Operational Command and was awarded CBE. A stint 1969-70 as Chief of Staff Far East Air Force Singapore saw him involved in the Vietnam War.
A staunch family man through his whole post war career, moving up the promotional ladder, Keith Hennock acknowledged how much his wife (the co-pilot) and family (the crew) helped him in “a career filled with excitement, opportunity, the horror of war, the enjoyment of peace with his family, the decorations and honours, the rewards and successes”.
On behalf of the Association the Toast is to “Keith Hennock our Patron, the inspiration of 459 RAAF in its early Alamein days”.
NB. All the quotations above are from Jo McDermott’s tribute, and are gratefully acknowledged.
(This article has been taken from the “454 – 459 Squadrons Association – Royal Australian Air Force – 2000 Bulletin”)
Keith Selwyn HENNOCK
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