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Keith Rodney Park

Auckland Star. (22 April 1948) [Sir Keith Park]. Auckland War Memorial Museum neg. S306.

Auckland Star. (22 April 1948) [Sir Keith Park]. Auckland War Memorial Museum neg. S306.

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  • Title
    Sir AWMM
  • Forenames
    Keith Rodney AWMM
  • Surname
    Park AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    WWI 2/1254 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    Hospital Diseases , Wounds, WWI AWMM
    Wounded 21 October 1916 in France AWMM

Last known rank

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Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Keith Park was the son of Professor James Park and Frances (nee Rogers), born in Thames and grew up in Dunedin being educated at Otago Boys' High School. On leaving school he was employed as a junior clerk in the offices of the Union Steam Ship Company in Dunedin. He quickly left the office environment and went to sea as a purser in the company's ships.

    He married Dorothy (Dol) Parrish in Buenos Aires in 1918 when he was Air Attache there. They had two sons: Colin and Ian Keith Woodbine.

    He has been described as tall, quiet and very aloof but having a keen sense of humour and participating in any fun in the Mess but never losing his dignity.

    At the outbreak of the First World War he became a gunner in the New Zealand Artillery. Park's commission was granted in Gallipoli in August 1915 for services in the field and was transferred to the 29th Division. He stayed in Gallipoli until the evacuation and, as Lieutenant, went to the Western Front. He was wounded at the Somme and relegated to home service as an Artillery Officer Instructor at Woolwich.

    He applied to the Royal Flying Corps and was accepted in December 1916, completed training and became an instructor. In July 1917 he joined 48 Squadron to fly Bristol Fighters. He became flight commander in September 1917, receiving the Military Cross and Bar. He also received a French Croix de Guerre.

    On two occasions he was shot down, first by AA and once by Unteroffizier Ungewitter of SchlachtStaffel 5. He crash landed A7229 and was unhurt. He took over command of 48 Squadron in April 1918. By the end of the war he had accounted for 20 enemy machines.

    Between the World Wars he commanded 25 Squadron and 111 Squadron and in 1935 was a Group Captain as Air Attache in Buenos Aires. He was aide de camp to King George VI at the 1937 coronation.

    During World War 2 he was AOC of 11 Group, Fighter Command during the critical days of the Battle of Britain. In this position he was responsible for the defence of London and south east England. In 1942 he commanded the fighter defences of Malta and later served as AOC in Burma.

    His funeral was marked by military honours, including a flypast, by the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

    In his eulogy to Sir Keith Park, Air Marshall Sir Rochford Hughes referred to the events after the Battle of Britain: 'In spite of his outstanding success in the Battle of Britain and the invaluable work which as Chief of Staff of Fighter Command he had done in the two years before the war in organising the new radar control and reporting system upon which his successful control of the fighting later so largely depended, Keith Park, as well as his Commander in Chief, Air Marshall Dowding, failed to receive what would seem to be their due reward. Dowding was retired and Keith Park given a new, unexciting appointment. There had been criticism from some of his contemporaries about the tactics he employed. There were the inevitable jealousies. Possibly these were the reasons.'

    And of the time Sir Keith commanded Malta he said: 'In less than two years however, Keith Park was back in the thick of it under much the same circumstances but this time as Air Commander of the lonely fortress of Malta which was under constant attack by the Germans and Italians. Operating in the same area, I often used to hear amusing stories of the incredible AOC. Frequently when the bombs were falling thick and fast and everyone who could was flattening himself in a slit trench, the tall, lean figure of Keith Park would be seen with Glengarry cap walking calmly out to greet, and stroll back with some unhappy pilot who through battle damage or fuel shortage was forced to land. The stroll back with their Air Commander was considered far more "hairy" than the battle up top!'

    The Auckland War Memorial Museum has on display in the exhibition 'The End At Last' of 'Scars on the Heart', two swords surrendered by Japanese generals commanding the Air Army in Malaya to Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park at the formal surrender ceremony in Singapore on 12 September 1945. AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
    6 February 1975 AWMM
    Age 82 AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Cremated, Ashes scattered. Specifically: ashes were scattered in the air into the Waitemata harbour. AWMM
  • Cemetery name
    Purewa Cemetery, Auckland Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 30 August 2015 - Purewa Cemetery Records
  • Grave reference
    serial No: 27827 Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 30 August 2015 - Purewa Cemetery Records
  • Obituary
    Keith Park died in Auckland on 6 February 1975, aged 82. A section of the Auckland Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) is named in his honour, as is Sir Keith Park School – a special needs centre in Māngere, Auckland. A statue of Park was unveiled in Waterloo Place, London on 15 September 2010, the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 30 August 2015 -
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

Roll of Honour

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Leave a tribute or memory of Keith Rodney Park

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  • I learnt of my connection of him through my Grandad and my Dad, what he contributed to the war effort was incredible.
    Public - Isaac george - Other relative - 28 September 2018
  • My great grandfather John Gurner Burnell was a friend of Sir K.R.Park while serving in World War I. I have uploaded the photo of him standing in front of his Bristol Scout plane, which my family found while cleaning out our grandmothers house.
    Public - Glenn - Researcher - 7 May 2018
  • Amazing man who was an unsung hero for way too long. A history changer!
    Public - ELAINE - Researcher - 8 September 2016
  • Defender of London, saviour of more.
    Public - Nicol - Researcher - 17 June 2015
  • Keith park I think was amazing and l'm glad to be the great great niece of some one who was friends with the red baron! I love him. ♡
    Public - Molly - 23 March 2015



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Command item
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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
19 February 2024Ian BanksTaumarunui New ZealandResearcher
21 June 2022Lorraine MonaGisborneResearcher
28 September 2018Isaac georgeblenheim, marlboroughOther relative
07 May 2018GlennBenallaResearcher
08 September 2016ELAINEAucklandResearcher

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