Biggs, Kenneth Arthur Henry

Kenneth Arthur Henry Biggs’s birth was registered in South Stoneham, Hampshire in 1921(Volume Number: 2c, Page Number: 175), he was the son of Ernest Llewellyn Biggs and Esther Elizabeth Biggs (nee   Rowthorn), and on the Commonwealth War Graves citation, they were living in Queensferry, Flintshire, Wales, when the citation was prepared.

Ernest Llewellyn Biggs was born in the June quarter of 1892 and registered at Edmonton (Vol. 3a Page 394) which spans the boundaries of the counties of Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Essex.    Esther Elizabeth Rowthorn’s birth was registered in the March quarter of 1893 at Southampton (Vol. 2c, Page 8) which is in the county of Hampshire.

I believe that Ernest and Esther married at Stoneham in the September quarter of 1918 (S. Stoneham Vol.  2c, Page 235) and as there are no censuses after 1911, I cannot trace Kenneth, but I think that Esther was still in the south of England in 1939 as she is seen on the 1939 Register, which was taken on the 29th September 1939, living at No 1 Waltons Avenue , New Forest R.D., Hampshire, this gives Esther’s date of birth as the 10th December 1893, and states that she is married.   There is one redacted record and a single lady, Mabel M. Hayward, born on the 22nd July 1922 living there too, but no sign of Ernest.

Ernest and Esther are seen on the Bedfordshire Electoral Registers in 1932 living at 322E, Married Quarters, Henlow Camp.

I do not know when Ernest Llewelyn and Esther came to live in Queensferry, but it must have been after 1939, when the National 1939 Register was taken and they were in the New Forest, as that is the address that is on the Commonwealth War Graves Citation.

Kenneth Arthur Henry was by now, perhaps, already in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, the links below may shed some light on his life “Down Under.”

RAF No 54 Squadron –Motto: Audax Omnia Perpett (Boldness to endure anything)

Excerpt:- Locations in Australia:

* 13 August 1942: Ascot Vale, Melbourne, Victoria

* 24 August 1942: Richmond, Sydney, New South Wales

* 13 January 1943: Sydney, New South Wales

* 25 January 1943: Parap Airfield, Darwin, Northern Territory

* 9 May 1944: Potshot, Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia]

* 19 May 1944: Livingstone Airfield, Northern Territory

* 23 October 1945: Parap Airfield, Darwin, Northern Territory

* 30 October 1945: Melbourne, Victoria

Unit History: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

The RAFVR was formed in July 1936 to provide individuals to supplement the Auxiliary Air Force (AAF) which had been formed in 1925 by the local Territorial Associations. The AAF was organised on a Squadron basis, with local recruitment similar to the Territorial Army Regiments. Initially the RAFVR was composed of civilians recruited from the neighbourhoods of Reserve Flying Schools, which were run by civilian contractors who largely employed as instructors members of the Reserve of Air Force Officers (RAFO), who had previously completed a four year short service commission as pilots in the RAF. Navigation instructors were mainly former master mariners without any air experience. Recruits were confined to men of between 18 and 25 years of age who had been accepted for part time training as Pilots, Observers and Wireless Operators. The object was to provide a reserve of aircrew for use in the event of war. By September 1939, the RAFVR comprised 6,646 Pilots, 1,625 Observers and 1,946 Wireless Operators

When war broke out in 1939 the Air Ministry employed the RAFVR as the principal means for aircrew entry to serve with the RAF. A civilian volunteer on being accepted for aircrew training took an oath of allegiance (‘attestation’) and was then inducted in to the RAFVR. Normally he returned to his civilian job for several months until he was called up for aircrew training. During this waiting period he could wear a silver RAFVR lapel badge to indicate his status.

By the end of 1941 more than half of Bomber Command aircrew were members of the RAFVR. Most of the pre-war pilot and observer NCO aircrew had been commissioned and the surviving regular officers and members of the RAFO filled the posts of flight and squadron commanders. Eventually of the “RAF” aircrew in the Command probably more than 95% were serving members of the RAFVR.

During 1943, the decision was taken by the Air Ministry to raise an order for members of the RAFVR to remove the brass and cloth ‘VR’s worn on the collars and shoulders of officers and other ranks (respectively), as these were viewed as being divisive. No similar order was raised for members of the Auxiliary Air Force, who retained their ‘A’s on uniforms at that time.

I needed to know why Kenneth was in Australia and asked the WW2Talk Forum, who have assisted me so much during my research into WW2.   I am in awe of their expertise, so may thanks to all there.

Clive – (CL1) replied :- Assumed either illness or aircraft crash/shot down

For 54 Squadron the early days of WWII were spent patrolling the Kent coast before becoming heavily engaged in the Battle of Britain. It was following the Battle of Britain that Winston Churchill promised a fighter Squadron to Australia. 54 Squadron duly departed Liverpool on the 20th June 1942 arriving in Australia several weeks later. Following their arrival the Squadron was credited for numerous strikes on enemy aircraft. Sadly for the 19 men remembered on the plaque, 16 of whom were British, one American and one Australian; they would never make it home.

Clive also sent a photograph of Kenneth’s gravestone and also a photograph that was on the Australian War Memorial Website 

which depicted Kenneth with a Wallaby (Mary) – Description (See below)

Kyle (Mr. Jinks) replied:- There`s a discrepancy on the Memorial Plaque article which Clive kindly posted and his CWGC and Headstone The Plaque article states Flight Sergeant the others Pilot Officer?    From this I did a little digging and found he was indeed a Flight Sergeant but was promoted to a Pilot officer on 7th August 1944 .

From Darwin Spitfires F/Sgt Biggs joined 54 Sqdn in 1942 his one and only `kill` was a fighter on 15th March 1943.

As Biggs was originally a Flt Sergeant it meant he had another service number prior to his commission . This number was 1379821.

The ailieneyes added:- Senior Member…eports/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=1062959&isAv=N

BIGGS, Kenneth Arthur Henry – (Pilot Officer); Service Number – 185353; file type – Casualty – Repatriation; Aircraft – Dragon A34-65; Place – Mount Druitt, New South Wales; Date – 5 January 1945

De Havilland DH84 Dragon A34-65 of 2 Aircraft Depot Richmond (2 AD) RAAF encountered engine problems and attempted to make a forced landing at about 1215 hours on 5 January 1945 during a travel flight. Whilst attempting to reach a small clearing it stalled and spun into the ground at Plumpton Road, Mt. Druitt, New South Wales. The following five personnel on board, 3 RAF and 2 RAAF were all killed:-

Pilot Officer George Ashurst (187809) RAF

Pilot Officer Kenneth Arthur Henry Biggs (185353) RAF

Warrant Officer Ian Castles Powell (1313994) RAF

Corporal Bruce Allan Brownjohn (34214) RAAF

Leading Aircraftman Henry Alan Taylor (65276) RAAF

Ernest was to died on the 7th September 1978 in Sealand, Deeside, Flintshire, many years after suffering the loss of Kenneth and a few years after Esther who died in the December quarter of 1975 (Clwyd Volume: 24 Page: 0411).

PROBATE – Ernest Llewellyn Biggs in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995 BIGGS, Ernest Llewellyn otherwise Ernest LLewllyn of 8, Welsh Rd., Sealand Deeside Clwyd died 7th September 1978.   Probate  – LLandaff 13 December.    He was cremated on the 11th September at Chester.

54 SQN MEMORIAL PLAQUE – 54 Squadron fighter pilots who died protecting northern Australia honoured 70 years after WWII.

Some of the brave young men who served on 54 Squadron during WWII and who died protecting northern Australia have been honoured in a ceremony in Darwin, Australia.

A memorial plaque unveiled at Darwin Military Museum on 24 August 2015 bears the names of 19 young men who died during 54 Squadrons service’s in Darwin between 1942 and 1945. Speaking to distinguished guests at the unveiling of the plaque Her Excellency Menna Rawlings, the High Commissioner to Australia said………

Kenneth Arthur Henry Biggs was well loved as can be seen on his gravestone, and his name was put forward to be added to the Hawarden WW2 War Memorial to be remembered for perpertuity.


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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