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The Airmen's Stories - F/O K R Sutton


Kenwyn Roland Sutton was born in Wellington, New Zealand on 18th May 1919. He attended Palmerston North High School from 1932 to 1936. He enrolled in the Civil Reserve of Pilots in October 1937 and applied for a short service commission in the RNZAF later that year.

He was accepted and began his elementary flying training at the Wellington Aero Club at Rongotai on 1st April 1938. Sutton was posted to Wigram on 6th June and after completing the course in mid-December sailed for the UK in the RMS Tainui on 1st February 1939.



Above: Sutton (with hand on map).


He joined 105 Squadron at Harwell on 28th March but when the squadron went to France on 2nd September Sutton and several other pilots were left behind because of a surplus of aircrew. He went to COS Warmwell as a staff pilot.

In early April 1940 Sutton joined 98 Squadron, operating Fairey Battles at Finningley. It moved to France on the 19th. When the blitzkrieg started on 10th May Sutton was posted to 142 Squadron at Berry-au-Bac. He took part in attacks on German lines of communication, bridges, pontoons and motor transport.

On a sortie on 13th June in a chase at treetop level, Sutton's gunner shot down one enemy aircraft and damaged another. Sutton crash-landed the damaged Battle near Dreux. He received a Mention in Despatches and the gunner was awarded the DFM.

The squadron was withdrawn to Waddington on 15th June 1940 and Sutton was posted to 264 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey on 15th August. He was sent to 5 OTU Aston Down for Defiant training, returned to 264 on 3rd September and began flying night patrols. Sutton went to 23 Squadron at Ford on 1st May 1941 to operate in Havocs on night-intruder sorties.

Sutton was appointed a Flight Commander in September 1941 and remained with 23 until 11th February 1942, when he was posted for a rest to 287 Squadron at Croydon, on anti-aircraft co-operation duties.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 27th March 1942).

On 17th July Sutton joined 605 Squadron at Ford as a Flight Commander. In the Dieppe raid on 19th August Sutton led a pre-dawn attack on gun positions covering the harbour. At the end of January 1943 he was attached to 85 Squadron at Hunsdon on special duties, plotting long and short range German radar and making daylight intruder sorties over France. He was later posted to the squadron.

Returning from a daylight Ranger operation on 2nd April 1943, Sutton's Mosquito II DD742 was shot down by Canadian anti-aircraft gunners over Hove. Both men attempted to bale out but the navigator F/O SR Streeter was trapped and killed. Sutton got out at low level but was struck by one of the propellers.

He came down on a railway line south of Hove Cemetery, with severe injuries which resulted in the loss of his lower leg and left arm. On 19th June, fit again, he was posted to HQ Fighter Command on staff duties.

In August 1943 Sutton became Station Commander at Llanbedr. He received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 14th January 1944).

Using a special arm attachment he flew Magisters and Oxfords. Sutton transferred to the RNZAF on 16th March 1944. He was posted from Llanbedr in November 1945 to be Squadron Leader Admin at Hutton Cranswick. On 1st July 1946 he went to 61 OTU Keevil in a similar job.

Sutton sailed for New Zealand in April 1947 and was released from the RNZAF on 1st August. In 1950 he joined the National Airways Corporation and retired in 1980.

He died in Kapiti, New Zealand on 6th July 2003.


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