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The Airmen's Stories - F/O K W Tait


Kenneth William Tait was born in Wellington, New Zealand on 19th November 1918, the son of William John Tait and Helen Tait.

Provisionally accepted for a RAF short service commission, he sailed for the UK on 22nd September 1937.

Tait commenced training at 13 E&RFTS White Waltham on 28th October and went on to 6 FTS Little Rissington on 21st January 1938. His first posting was 87 Squadron at Debden on 20th August. He went on a short gas defence course in December and a parachute course in early February 1939.

87 Squadron was posted to France on 9th September 1939. At that time he was serving as squadron adjutant and he continued in this role until November, when he returned to flying duties.


Above L to R: F/O R Watson, Sgt. LA Thorogood, P/O RFF Malengrau (BEL), F/lt. IR Gleed, F/O KW Tait (NZ), F/O RMS Rayner.


Above L to R: F/O R Watson, F/O KW Tait (NZ), F/lt. IR Gleed, F/O RMS Rayner, P/O PW Comely at the White Swan Inn, Bibury 1940

Images courtesy of the collection of F/O R Watson.


On 6th May Tait was in a Miles Master with F/Lt. M Lister-Robinson when they were forced down at Lille-Seclin by bad weather. The brakes had seized and the aircraft overturned, both men ended up in hospital. Tait was back in action on 12th May when he damaged a He111 followed by a Me110 claimed destroyed on the 15th. On the 18th he damaged a Ju87 east of Brussels. He claimed a Me109 destroyed near Arras on the 20th plus a Ju88 shared, two Me109s and two Ju88s damaged.

The squadron was withdrawn to Debden on the 22nd. A newspaper report stated that Tait had piloted a Dutch plane back, wearing an old uniform, scarf, flying boots and no shirt, having lost all his belongings in the retreat.

On 15th August Tait claimed a Me110 destroyed and two others damaged and on the 25th a Me109 and a Me110. He was posted away from 87 Squadron on 3rd December 1940, going to 56 OTU Sutton Bridge as an instructor.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 4th February 1941) and received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 17th March 1941).

Tait joined 257 Squadron at Coltishall on 6th July 1941 as a Flight Commander. On 4th August he failed to return from an shipping reconnaissance over the North Sea in Hurricane IIb Z3164. He was hit by return fire from a Ju88 45 miles east of Winterton, Norfolk.

Tait is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 29.



Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner.

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