Sir Keith Rodney Park, GCB, KBE, MC, DFC, DCL, was educated at Otago Boys’ High School and Oxford University. He joined the New Zealand Field Artillery and served in Egypt and Gallipoli. Commissioned in July 1915, he transferred to the Royal Artillery in September 1915. In October 1916, he was wounded in action while serving in France. Two months later, he joined the Royal Flying Corps. After flight training he became an instructor and accumulated 100 hours of flight time before joining 48 Squadron as a Bristol Fighter pilot in July 1917. He scored his 13th victory on 5 September 1917, downing an Albatros D.V flown by Franz Pernet of Jasta Boelcke, the stepson of General Erich Ludendorff. By the end of the year, Park scored sixteen victories and was shot down once by anti-aircraft fire. On 3 January 1918, he was shot down again, this time by Kurt Ungewitter of Schusta 5. The highest scoring ace to serve with 48 Squadron, Park scored 20 victories by the end of the war. He remained in the Royal Air Force, eventually attaining the rank of Air Chief Marshal. During World War II, he commanded the Royal Air Force during the evacuation at Dunkirk and later assumed command of Number 11 Fighter Group, defending London and southern England during the Battle of Britain. Upon retiring from the RAF, he returned to New Zealand.
"If any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did. I do not believe it is realised how much that one man, with his leadership, his calm judgement and his skill, did to save, not only this country, but the world." Lord Tedder – Chief of the Royal Air Force, February 1947
2nd Lt. Keith Rodney Park, R.F.A. and R.F.C.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During an engagement with several large hostile formations, the two machines with which he was patrolling were put out of action. In spite, however, of being left alone, he continued to attack, and engaged the enemy machines in so determined a manner that he and his observer between them destroyed one and drove three others down completely out of control. He has performed several other fine feats, and has at all times set a most inspiring example by his dash and tenacity.
Supplement to the London Gazette, 9 January 1918 (30466/634)
Military Cross (MC) Bar
2nd Lt. Keith Rodney Park, M.C., R.F.A. and R.F.C.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in accounting for nine enemy aircraft, three of which were completely destroyed and six driven down out of control.
Supplement to the London Gazette, 18 March 1918 (30583/3418)