|Soham Grammar School Photo, 1937 3/10 Ken Holt is in row 2
Soham Grammarian Summer 1938 VALETE
AK Holt, School Certificate 1937, lst XV Rugby
Soham Grammarian Autumn 1941 K Holt serving with the
Soham Grammarian Spring 1942 K Holt (Observer's
Soham Grammarian Spring 1943 RAF P/O K Holt
Soham Grammarian Spring 1946 Sqn Ldr AK Holt, DFC for
bravery during bombing raids on Germany [ed: London
Gazette, 2nd November 1945]
SGS Photo, 1937
Lucky bomb aimer lived to tell
tales of wartime life at air base
YORKSHIRE POST Friday 3 April 2009
FORTUNE favours the brave....
Veteran bomb aimer Ken Holt should
not have been alive to tell youngsters his astonishing wartime
stories yesterday at a North Yorkshire air base.
During the Second World War Mr Holt, now 87, cheated death
repeatedly while flying missions over occupied Europe and was on
leave when his squadron suffered its most devastating losses.
Mr Holt, from Thirsk, was part of the crew of a Stirling aircraft
and beat the odds to complete a full tour of duty in 1943 when
that type of plane was being shot down in huge numbers.
He joined the RAF in 1941 [sic] and served with it for the
remainder of the war.
He flew 40 missions and was awarded the DFC for his "exceptional
skill" aboard Stirlings and later Lancasters.
Later he became headmaster at Moorside Juniors School in Ripon and
yesterday he came out of retirement to share his memories with
pupils visiting RAF Linton-on-Ouse, near York.
He said: "If there is such a thing as reincarnation I'm coming
back as a tomcat. I have ridden my luck so often that I think I
must have already had nine lives. On Stirlings I manned the front
gun turret until we reached the target. On one raid I left the it
to go to the bomb aimer's position and after successfully hitting
the target I went back to the turret only to find a hole in the
canopy made by flak. It would have gone straight between my eyes
if I had been in there."
Several missions later he was in the gun turret when a piece of
shrapnel came through the side panel. "It flew across the bomb
aimer's mat that I had been lying on just a few minutes before,
and out the other side. It would have gone straight through me,"
Stirlings were restricted to an altitude of 15,000ft [sic] but
often flew lower with a full payload of bombs, which made them
sitting ducks, with Halifaxes and Lancasters dropping their bombs
directly above them.
He added: "Sometimes we came back with incendiary bombs stuck in
the wings. They should have exploded and that would have been the
end of us but somehow or other we survived."
Mr Holt's luck meant he was on leave when more than half of the
the 25 aircraft in his squadron were lost. [ed: He served on 115
Decorated airman and teacher
YORKSHIRE POST Dec 2013
Andrew Kenneth Holt, who has died
aged 91, was a much travelled teacher who was born in Mendelsham,
Suffolk, in March 1922.
He was the only son of Ernest and Ethel Holt and he had three
sisters. His father was a saddler and harness-maker who set up a
business in Sutton, Cambridgeshire, that enabled his young
children to enjoy fishing, shooting and wandering free in the
His mother was the daughter of the station master at Marylebone
Station in London (by Victorian standards this was a marriage
between different strata of society).
At 16, Ken left Soham Grammar School to work on the railways as a
clerk. However the Second World War changed his life forever. In
1940, aged 18, he enlisted in the RAF and flew his first mission
the following year.
He became a bombing leader on Stirlings and then Lancasters and
completed 40 operations. He beat the odds time and time again.
Some of his near misses are recalled in the book Reflections,
published by the White Rose York Branch of the Aircrew
Association. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his
He rose to the rank of Squadron Leader and was finally “demobbed”
in July 1947, still only 25 years old. He then went on a teachers’
training course at Leavesdon Green, Watford, and married Freda, a
former WAAF. He returned to Sutton and they set up home in a
semi-detached cottage with no running water. They were to
celebrate 65 years of marriage and have two children.
He taught at the boys’ primary school in Ely, where he later
became deputy headmaster. In 1960, after a year at Reading
University doing a Diploma in Rural Education, he was offered his
first headship, in Devon.
From there he went on to run schools in Malaya (1966), Germany
(1969) and finally Moorside Junior School in Ripon (1973). His
innovations ranged from school trips into the Malaysian jungle,
numerous environmental visits, computer lessons, a remedial
reading unit and the entertainment of Ripon’s pensioners by
Moorside pupils. By all accounts he was a popular figure,
affectionately remembered by his pupils.
On retirement in 1984 he continued to be active with fishing,
wine-making, travel, and his membership of the local Aircrew
Association and the Ripon Royal Air Force Association, whose
president he became, giving talks and fundraising.
He remained active until this year.
Silver Street Boys c 1950 - can you add names? : via Mike
4th row (back): 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9
3rd row: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 -10
2nd row: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - Mr AK Holt - 7 - 8 - 9 -10 - 11
1st row (front): 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
15 Aug 15 Alan Frost SG54
wrote: Mike Rouse on the queries page mentions AK Holt. I
well remember Mr. Holt - Tim - and feel sure (Ely at the
time being a small and sometimes nosey place) someone must know a
bit more about his background.
He deserves, in my opinion, to be remembered and certainly anyone
who attended Ely Junior Boys School in the period 1950 to around
1960 will remember him well and probably fondly. In my opinion he
was an excellent school master, who kept discipline well and did
everything he could to keep our interest including reading to us
for a half hour or so every Friday afternoon. I remember White
Fang and Prester John.
Like most schoolmasters of the time
he might have favoured the academically gifted a little. Ely
Junior Boys School probably sent more pupils to Soham Grammar
School than any other school and I believe he played large part in
this. He never talked about his background (unlike many
schoolmasters), so regrettably he remains a bit of an enigma to
1 Sep 15 Mike Rouse wrote: Ken Holt DFC was an ex-Squadron
Leader Navigator/Bomb Aimer. He flew from a number of airfields
including Downham Market and finally Witchford.
He was 'emergency trained' and like
many of his contemporaries proved a great teacher. I owe him a
great deal. He was just the sort of man that a lad needs at what
was/is a challenging time. He went on to have a career in Forces
Schools, ironically in Germany where he was a headteacher.
He retired to the Ripon area and
some years ago I had the great fortune to get in touch with him
and thank him. I also spoke to him on the phone and his voice was
instantly recognisable even after sixty years.
I don't remember him ever talking to
us about his war experiences, he was just one of those teachers
who commanded respect. I don't suppose us thirty or more 'erks'
proved too intimidating after what he had seen and survived! Just
mentioned him in my new book on Ely!
David Clayton SG54 recalled:
Stuart Saunders was very much the same [as Ken Holt,
teacher at Ely Silver Street] - in slightly old-fashioned terms,
civilised but also clubbable. Ken Holt taught the top year at Ely
Silver Street Junior Boy's School (and may have been Deputy Head),
which I suppose I left in 1954. In a more disciplinarian age, he
had a relaxed manner that encouraged interest and questioning. For
extra kudos, he also had a motorbike and sidecar. I'm sure that
the school's excellent 11-plus record had much to do with him.
12 Oct 19: last update 26 Oct 19: 15 Sep 20