Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
World War 2 fighter ace Kenneth Gordon Rayment was the youngest of the three children of Leonard Rayment and Elsie Rayment née Kirk. He was born on 11th March 1921 in Wanstead, Essex, England and lived in nearby Woodford Green until leaving school in 1937, when he became a Merchant Navy deck officer on the Argentine run.
He joined the RAFVR (Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve) on 15th October 1940 and commenced training at 17 EFTS (Elementry Flying Training School RAF) in March 1941. He was then sent to Canada to attend 32 SFTS (Service Flying Training School RAF) at Moose Jaw, where he passed out top of his course.
Commissioned in August 1941, he returned to the UK in September to attend 56 OTU (Operational Training Unit RAF) at Sutton Bridge.
At the start of December 1941 he joined 153 Squadron, but after a few days was sent to 62 OTU, East Fortune, for training as a night fighter pilot. He returned to 153 Squadron in Febuary, but in May 1942 was again posted to 62 OTU, where he remained until August. He rejoined 153 Squadron yet again, going out to North Africa with the unit during December 1942. He remained at Reghaia from July-September 1943 after leaving the unit, then returned to the UK where he instructed at 51 OTU, Cranfield, until 19th April 1944.
He then joined 264 Squadron, going to France with this unit on 11th August. His last flight in a Mosquito occurred on 20th September 1944, although he remained in France until late November.
During the war he destroyed no less than six enemy aircraft, damaged one more and destroyed a V-1 flying bomb. He was Mentioned in Despatches on 2nd June 1943 and was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) on 27th July 1943, having flown 45 sorties (99 operational hours). His sitation reads “This officer has taken part in a large number of operational sorties, many of which have been by night. On one occasion he located an enemy convoy escorted by float planes, Junkers 88s and Focke Wulf 190s. In spite of the presence of the enemy fighters he attacked and shot down a Junkers 88 in flames and damaged one float plane. On the night of 16th May, 1943, Flying Officer Rayment flew into the middle of an enemy formation and destroyed one Junkers 88 and one Heinkel 111. Seven days later he destroyed a Savoia 79 and the following night a Junkers 88. At all times this officer has displayed intense keenness, determination and courage.“
He was then seconded to BOAC, flying Lodestars until the end of 1945. In 1946 he transferred to BEA on its foundation, flying Oxfords and then Dakotas until 1947, and then Vikings. In 1953 he began flying the Airspeed Ambassador, but subsequently he flew the turboprop Vickers Viscount (BEA ‘Elizabethan’ class) as a senior Captain.
Having married Edith May Grenville Levason at Amersham in Buckinghamshire in early 1946, he fathered two children, Stephen Grenville Rayment and Judith Anne Rayment, born in 1948 and 1951 respectively.
Later, with the children soon to become teenagers, he considered retirement from flying and began to research chicken farming. Finding that a fellow pilot was already operating such a farm, he arranged to fly as second pilot on a special charter flight in order to “pick his brains”. The flight in question occurred on 6th February 1958, carrying Matt Busby’s Manchester United football team home from Munich, Germany. The Viscount crashed in a snowstorm as it was taking off from Munich Airport with the death of many members of the team. Kenneth was taken to hospital unconscious, with a broken leg and severe head and internal injuries. Subsequently the leg had to be amputated, but on 15th March, after seven weeks without recovering consciousness, he died – the 23rd fatality of the crash – in the Recht der Isar Hospital at Munich.
Flying was in the blood of Kenneth’s family – His son Stephen Grenville Rayment became a pilot with the Dubai Royal Flight and his brother Douglas Leonard Rayment was a Hurricane pilot who took part in the Battle of Britain, being awarded the AFC (Air Force Cross) just a few weeks before died in July 1941.
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