Kenneth Roy COLLIER


COLLIER, Kenneth Roy

Service Number: 422424
Enlisted: 22 May 1942
Last Rank: Flying Officer
Last Unit: No. 91 (Nigeria) Squadron
Born: Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales, 5 November 1920
Home Town: Balmain, Leichhardt, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Shot down in air combat while while flying a bomber escort mission, Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 5 December 1944, aged 24 years
Cemetery: Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany
Rheinberg War Cemetery, Rheinberg, Germany
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

22 May 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2 (WW2), SN 422424, Aircrew Training Units
22 May 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Flying Officer, SN 422424
1 May 1944: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flying Officer, SN 422424, No. 91 (Nigeria) Squadron , Air War NW Europe 1939-45

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins


Kenneth Roy Collier was born in Glebe, an inner western suburb of Sydney, in 1920.

He enlisted in the RAAF on 22 May 1942 and was selected for pilot training under the Empire AIr Training Scheme, graduating as a Fighter Pilot, and assigned to the UK where he served with the RAF's Fighter Command. 

Serving with No 91 Squadron, RAF, Ken Collier was credited with devising a new method of destroying German V1 flying bombs targeted against England following the D Day landings.  Fired from locations in France Belgium and the Netherlands, V-1s were the world's first 'cruise missiles', and were intended as terror weapons directed primarily at London. During the first weeks of the German V1 campaign, the efforts of Allied pilots focused on shooting down the pulse-jet-powered missiles despite the difficulties of interception, as they crossed the English Channel at 560 kilometres per hour.

On 23 June 1944, after employing the conventional approach, of diving to catch and then shooting the missiles from behind, Collier had expended all his ammunition in the attempt, Collier resorted to moving alongside a flying bomb and positioning the wingtip of his Spitfire Mk XIV fighter below the missile’s stubby glideplane. He then banked steeply, flipping up the weapon’s wing so abruptly that he upset its automatic guidance system and caused it to spiral out of control into a field near East Grinstead.

Ken Collier's technique was widely and successfully emulated by other pilots against the V-1 flying bombs.

Ken Collier was killed in an air combat engagement on the 5th December 1944, while flying a withdrawal bomber escort mission picking up returning aircraft from a raid on Hamm, Germany.  Number of FW190 and Bf109 fighters were sighted and 91 Squadron aircraft made a diving attack ot of the sun.  Flying No. 4 in yellow section Collier was seen to enter the melee but did not return.  Subsequent investigation discovered that his aircraft had been shot down by enemy fighters and his aircraft crashed near the village of Gelsenkirchen.  Ken Collier is burined in Rheinberg War Cemetery.


Steve Larkins June 2020