30.03.1942 No. 14 Squadron Blenheim IV Z7627 Fl/Lt. Harry Kingwell Keck
Date: 30 March 1942 (Monday)
Unit: No. 14 Squadron - Motto: 'I spread my wings and keep my promise' (an extract from the Koran suggested by the Emir of Transjordan)
Badge: A winged plate charged with a cross throughout and shoulder pieces of a suit of armour - approved by King George VI in May 1937. The badge represents a crusader in association with the Cross of St George because of the Squadron's close First World War ties with Diospolis, Palestine, the reputed burial place of the Saint, and its location in the Middle East at the time of submission to the Chester Herald.
Type: Blenheim IV
Code: Not known
Base: Landing Ground 116 near Fuka, Egypt
Location: Near Ras Alam el-Rum, Egypt
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Harry Kingwell Keck Aus/400591 RAAF Age 29 - Killed (1)
Observer: Fl/Sgt. John Henry Hibbert 906246 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Paul Rylands DFM 984571 RAFVR Age 22 - Killed (3)
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REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from LG 116. Shot down in error by a Hurricane at 13:20 hours, crashed into Mediterranean near Ras Alam el-Rum.
Scale: 1" = 40 miles
Neither the Hurricane nor pilot are identified in official reports but the No. 14 Squadron history refers to the Blenheim as having been shot down by "South African Hurricanes".
Documents in the National Australian Archives ref: NAA A705, 163/40/41, record only that the Blenheim was shot down by a Hurricane and give no further information as to how this was known. In 1948 it was recorded that after an extensive search no trace of the aircraft or its crew had been found and as a result the members of the crew would be recorded as missing with no known grave.
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) Fl/Lt. Harry Kingwell Keck was born on 19 April 1912 at Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia the son of son of Reverend Harry Alfred George and Ethel Annie Keck later of 2 Erskine Street, Armadale SE3, Victoria. He was married to Barbara Mary Keck nee Burrowes of "Windermere" 40 Adelaide St, Malvern Victoria and later of 55 Talbot Crescent, Kooyong, Victoria. They had a son Michael born 22 May 1941.
Harry Keck was a Bank Officer prior to enlisting at Melbourne 18 September 1940 and he embarked 23 January 1941.
He had 1 sister and 6 brothers 4 of whom served with the AIF. His brother Frederick Abbey Keck was sadly killed 12 days after Harry on 11 April 1942. He was the Observer of the crew of Hampden AT221 and is buried at Rheinberg War Cemetery. Further details at www.aircrewremembered.com/roberts-robert.html
(2) Fl/Sgt. John Henry Hibbert was born in 1921 at Totnes, Devon the son of Albert John Hibbert and Bessie Mary Louise Hibbert nee Avery. Mr Hibbert was the landlord of the Carlyon Arms, Sandy Hill, St Austell Cornwall. John Henry Hibbert is commemorated on the War Memorial, Bethel Chapel, St Austell, Devon.
(3) Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Paul Rylands DFM was born in 1920 at Bucklow, Cheshire the son of Geoffrey Glazebrook Rylands and Nora Lee Rylands nee Williams later of Howtown, Westmorland. His father was Company Secretary of Rylands Bros of Warrington and manufacturers of wire and wire products.
Geoffrey Paul Rylands attended Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire and later worked at the District Bank at Altrincham. He joined the RAFVR in 1940 and was posted to the Middle East in April 1941. He was awarded the DFM posthumously and announced in the London Gazette of 7 July 1942.
His brother Major Harry Glazebrook Rylands of the South Lancashire Regiment was killed 18 April 1945 aged 26: he is buried at Taukkyan War Cemetery, Burma (now Myanmar). Geoffrey and Harry Rylands are both commemorated on the Stretton War Memorial, Cheshire.
Fl/L.t Harry Kingwell Keck - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial - Panel 263
Fl/Sgt. John Henry Hibbert - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial - Panel 249
Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Paul Rylands - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial - Panel 250
Left: Alamein Memorial
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - March 2016
With thanks to the sources quoted below.