Kenneth G. Roberts DFC, CD

Little is known about Squadron Leader Ken Roberts.

I looked him up on Google.

Not much.

But since he received a DFC, I knew where to look.

 Click here…

ROBERTS, P/O Kenneth Godfrey (J89779)

– Distinguished Flying Cross

No.158 Squadron

– Award effective 15 March 1945 as per London Gazette dated 27 March 1945 and AFRO 1085/45 dated 29 June 1945.

Born 1922 in Toronto; home there (student); enlisted there 6 May 1942.  Trained at No.5 ITS (graduated 10 October 1942), No.5 BGS (graduated 28 May 1943) and No.1 CNS (graduated 9 July 1943).  Commissioned August 1944.

Postwar he was a Public Relations staff officer, prolific writer and ardent canoist.  Died in Ottawa, 10 July 1997.

This officer has taken part in a large number of operational sorties as air bomber.  He has done excellent work and in the face of the enemy he has always displayed coolness and resolution.  In October 1944 he was detailed to attack Sterkrade in daylight.  As the aircraft neared the target it was hit by anti-aircraft fire and a splinter pierced the windscreen, narrowing missing this officer.  Other pieces damaged the oil tanks, fuselage and mainplane. Undeterred, however, Pilot Officer Roberts coolly completed his allotted tasks.

NOTE: Public Records Office Air 2/9050 has recommendation dated 15 December 1944 with sortie list and a more detailed text than that which was published.

9 June 44  Laval (5.31)                          Bombed in cloud

12 June 44  Amiens (4.50)                      Successful attack

14 June 44  Evrecy (4.54)                        Bombed as ordered

16 June 44  Sterkrade (4.09)                  Attacked in cloud

17 June 44  St.Martin l’Hortier (3.30)      Bombed target

22 June 44  Siracourt (3.45)                    First daylight operation

23 June 44  Oisemont (3.25)                   Bombed aiming point

24 June 44  Le Grand Rossignol (3.27)                 do.

27 June 44  Marquise Mimoyecques (3.43)          do.

28 June 44  Wizernes (3.05)                                   do.

30 June 44  Villers Bocage (3.47)          Very concentrated bombing

18 July 44    Caen H.1 (3.58)                   Completed sortie

20 July 44    Ardouval II (4.02)                  Recalled by Master Bomber

23 July 44    Les Catelliers (3.41)            Successful attack

25 July 44    Wanne Eickel (4.33)            Bombed through cloud

29 July 44    Foret de Nieppe (3.52)       Successful attack

1 Aug 44      Chapelle Notre Dame (4.02)              Recalled by Master Bomber

3 Aug 44      Bois de Casson (4.37)        Successful attack

5 Aug 44      Foret de Nieppe (3.39)       Bombed as ordered

6 Aug 44      Foret de Nieppe (3.16)       Duty carried out

7 Aug 44      TOTALIZER 3 (4.35)           Bombed as ordered

9 Aug 44      Bois de la Haie (3.42)         Successful

11 Aug 44   Ferfay (3.50)                         Bombed aiming point; flak damage

14 Aug 44   TRACTABLE 21A (4.04)    Duty carried out

15 Aug 44   Eindhoven (3.30)                 Bombed airfield

16 Aug 44   Kiel (4.19)                             Bombed through cloud

18 Aug 44   Sterkrade (4.26)                 do.

25 Aug 44   Brest (Point des Espagnoles) (5.48)  Duty carried out

27 Aug 44   Homberg (4.22)                   Bombed target

3 Sept 44    Soesterburg (3.08)              Successful attack

25 Sept 44  Calais (2.39)                        Bombed in cloud

26 Sept 44  Calais (3.28)                        Successful

30 Sept 44  Bottrop (4.30)                       Bombed in cloud

6 Oct 44       Sterkrade (4.18)                  Bombed as ordered

7 Oct 44       Kleve (4.03)                          Successful

14 Oct 44    Duisburg (5.25)                    Bombed as ordered

15 Oct 44    Duisburg (5.25)                    Bombed in cloud

15 Oct 44    Wilhelmshaven (3.33)          Successful attack

23 Oct 44    Essen (5.17)                         Bombed in cloud

On 6th October 1944, Pilot Officer Roberts was Air Bomber in a Halifax III aircraft detailed from No.158 Squadron to attack Sterkrade in daylight. As the aircraft neared the target it was buffeted by shell bursts and then, as Pilot Officer Roberts started his course directions for the bombing run, another burst peppered the aircraft with shell splinters. One piece went through the perspex in the nose and narrowly missed this officer, and others damaged oil tanks, fuselage and main planes. In spite of this, however, Pilot Officer Roberts cooly continued to direct the bombing run, and his photograph proves that he straddled the aiming point.

On 11th August 1944, on a daylight attack on Ferfay, Pilot Officer Roberts again returned an aiming point photograph when bombing from an aircraft severely damaged by flak on the run up.

Throughout an eventual tour of 39 sorties this Air Bomber has done excellent work. His keen offensive spirit has been an inspiring influence in his crew and in his section.  On the ground and in the air he has been an asset to the squadron.  It is recommended that Pilot Officer Roberts’ excellent record of courage, bombing efficiency and unfailing devotion to duty be recognized by the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

This struck me…

He was a Public Relations staff officer, prolific writer and ardent canoist.  

Died in Ottawa, 10 July 1997.

But this WWII veteran is almost unknown on the WWW…

To be continued…

15 thoughts on “Kenneth G. Roberts DFC, CD

  1. Last Name ROBERTS
    Service Number J89779
    Rank Pilot Officer
    Service Royal Canadian Air Force
    Trade Air Bomber
    Fate Not Recorded
    Awards with 158 Squadron DFC
    Awards with other Squadrons
    Foreign Awards
    Post War Awards
    Posted in date 1944-06-06
    From Unit 41 Base
    Pilot 1 HARMER 56128

  2. Thanks for the information you published here about Ken Roberts. I was just today re-reading his magnificent war poem “The Way it Was” and I was curious to learn more.
    Although I knew him somewhat in Ottawa, and indeed bought his book (booklet actually; it’s only 40 pages) from him, I never did learn any details about his war experience. His poem is a chilling and perceptive account of what it must have been like to live through a bombing sortie. I believe that it is one of the finest works of his kind.

  3. Ken was my mentor and close friend. I wrote a profile on him when I was in journalism school at Carleton U. in the mid to late 90s. I attended his funeral in Ottawa in ’97 and the profile was shared among his friends. I will look for a copy to share here. He wrote other things, including a long story for children that I don’t think was ever published. He was on dialysis last few years. I remember he smoked and once when three of us were standing around smoking, I went to give him a light and he stopped me, explaining why the third light was bad luck: the enemy would spot you on the first light, aim at the second and shoot on the third. While I had the pleasure of spending many hours listening to his stories and agree that The Way it Was is a great poem, Ken never spoke much about the way. My copy of the Way it Was is signed by him and says: “A life of research and writing is a great satisfaction.” Ken was a writer and my mentor. Today, Nov. 11, I honor his memory as a veteran of WWII and am happy to read your account of his heroic life as Squadron Leader. Thank You.

  4. Hi Pierre, I am an Archivist with RAF 158 Squadron Association and very interested to hear your reference to Kenneth G. Roberts, DFC, RCAF,, who flew as a Bomb Aimer with the Squadron. I would love to know more about his poem « The Way it Was » and how we could get more information about his writings. Our file on F/O Roberts is very sparse indeed. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Chuck,
      I don’t have much more than what I wrote. However I can send you my copy. If interested, please reply here and I will get in touch by email.


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