Ken Dawick was one of 129 RNZAF pilots and aircrew who fought in the pivotal Battle of Britain during World War II, when an exclusively airborne combat staved off a threatened German invasion of the UK.
Although born and educated in Palmerston North, where he also spent his early working life, Ken moved to Levin with his new wife Noeline almost immediately after his release from the air force in 1945. He worked and lived in the town for the remaining 60 years of his life.
Initially he and Noeline started a floriculture business on MacArthur Street but then Ken trained as a psychopaedic nurse and worked at Kimberley Hospital from 1950 until 1977, latterly as the institution’s administrative officer.
But it’s really his war service that stands him apart – flying Hurricanes on 14 missions in the heat of battle over southern England and the Channel in September 1940, then being transferred to the Middle East and North Africa, playing his part in another turning point of the war, the Battle of Alamein, which again drove the Germans into retreat. He rose to the rank of Flight Lieutenant and on his return to New Zealand trained new pilots to fly Harvards.
The local RSA recognised Ken’s diligent work as a historian for the organisation and his willingness to mentor students.
Ken and Noeline had two children, John and Helen, the latter winning the Miss Horowhenua beauty contest but tragically losing her life at the age of 45. Ken, though, was a true survivor and was in his 89th year when he passed away in 2005. He’s buried along with Noeline in The Avenue cemetery.
P J Orborn