Flt Lt Ken Lambden - Obituary

A veteran of the Italian campaign in 1944, Flight Lieutenant Ken Lambden also served in Palestine after the war during the Jewish insurgency. Ken, of Bardon Hill, was born on December 31, 1923 at Micheldever Station near Andover in Hampshire where his father, Frederick, was an accounts clerk for a local farmer. Ken grew up with two elder and two younger sisters and a love of flying. He went to local schools and then won scholarships to Huish Grammar School in Taunton and then Brasenose College, Oxford where he joined the University Air Squadron. While there he enjoyed flying Tiger Moth biplanes out of Abingdon airfield but he found the privileged world of Oxford University a real eye-opener. He said one of the hardest aspects of it was coming to terms with the Oxford tradition of having a manservant, known as a 'scout'.

From Oxford he continued his training on American Harvard fighter planes in South Africa in 1943 at an airfield near Johannesburg and in 1944 flew Hurricanes and had his first solo flight in a Spitfire at Petah Tikva in what is now Israel. At 6ft 2ins, he found squeezing into the Spitfire cockpit a challenge and it was compounded by having to try to balance maps on his knees while flying. In October, 1944 he joined 208 squadron (known as the 'flying shuftis' because of their role in carrying out photo reconnaissance flights) in Florence as the Allies tried to overcome stubborn German resistance. His memories of that time were of the rain, mud and the fog of the Po valley and the empty chairs in the mess as the war took its toll among the squadron's pilots. The squadron's role was gathering photographic intelligence, so he had to fly straight and low while enemy ground troops took pot shots. The role also involved disrupting enemy supply lines, which meant strafing trains and road convoys. At the end of hostilities Ken was posted to Palestine where the British were policing Palestine during the emergence of Israel. Having survived the war, he had his closest brush with death there. He was in a warehouse where he was working with a group of WAAFs (Women's Auxiliary Air Force). The warehouse was besieged by an angry mob out for blood and Ken says he was saved by the WAAFs who used hockey sticks to beat off men trying to climb through the windows - until help finally arrived.

After he was demobbed in 1946, Ken spurned a place saved for him at Oxford to become a farmer, studying at Kingston Maurwood College in Dorset. It's there he met his future wife, Alice, a nurse. He saw her at the top of the stairs during a dance one evening and as his best man, Gordon Willoughby, says, 'It was love at first sight' and that love endured undimmed for over 50 years. They married in 1950 and the newly-weds worked on a farm in Somerset and then Devon before Ken was persuaded in 1952 to follow his sister, Barbara, and her husband, Greg Tom, to Leicestershire where the Tom family had bought Bardon Hill Quarry. The quarry owned farms and Ken took over the tending of Botts Hill farm. The land wasn't the most fertile and he claimed it grew lumps of granite better than it nurtured crops. He and Alice had seven children during 30 years at the farm before it was swallowed up by the quarry and they moved to the old vicarage at Bardon Hill in 1980. Ken always seemed a slightly reluctant farmer (although he loved being out in the open air tending his garden) and was happy enough to give it up to work as sales manager at the quarry. In what spare time bringing up such a large family and running a farm allowed, Ken was an early adopter of home movie technology and filmed and edited family footage shot on 8mm film. He was a big fan of rugby and, in particular, Leicester Tigers, where he helped out in the administration offices during the club's amateur days. He followed Leicester City and was an avid cricket lover too. He survived Alice by sixteen months, although it was clear that he missed her terribly every day. He is survived by his seven children, his five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

This Obituary first appeared in the Leicester Mercury. Read the original at this link:

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