|Old Ottoman-era Smyrne post card. RAAF Squadron Leader Kenneth Pericles' grandfather was born here in 1835.|
Thanks to the genealogical research of Paul Sougleris, we have been able to confirm the Hellenic heritage of this WW2 Australian RAAF officer.
A Grandfather from Smyrna
Kenneth's father - Arthur Leonidas Rodakanakis Pericles - was the son of a former Smyrna resident - John Pericles who had been born there in 1835 and travelled to England before1868 and in that year married 20 year old Mary Emma Barnett Williams (who had been born in 1848) from Liscard, Cornwall.
John and Mary would have five children.
Arthur was was born in Liscard Cornwall in and his middle name of Rodakanakis suggests a Cretan or Chios connection.
His mother Mary died in 1928, aged 80 years old.
The Move to Western Australia
By 1903, Arthur - Kenneth's father - had moved to Perth in Western Australia. In Western Australia, Arthur married Evaline May Pericles.
Arthur and Evaline would have ten children.
One of those was Kenneth Henry who was born at Claremont WA on 20th November 1914.
Kenneth's mother Mary died on 18th June 1946
|A similar graduation ceremony as Kenneth would have participated at RAAF No 4 Service Flying Training School, Geraldton, WA.RAAF. Photographer Arthur Faithful. AWM|
He enlisted into the RAAF on 11th November 1940, with service no. 406339. His recorded next of kin was his wife Mrs Dorothea Pericles.
He graduated as a Pilot Officer from No 4 Service Flying Training School at Geraldton, WA on 1st January 1942.
Sadly, Kenneth's service record has not been digitized yet by the National Archives of Australia.
However a search of newspapers shows that by 1945 Kenneth had been promoted to Squadron Leader and was selected by the authorities to be the RAAF representative on an important US military body then being established as part of the post-war occupation of Japan.
On October Western Australian newspapers reported that the Australian Department of Air had appointed Kenneth to the role of Ordinance Liaison Officer with the US Army Far East Air Force and his role would be to "is investigating bomb damage in Japan on behalf of the R. A.A.F. to determine the efficiency of various types of bombs." He would undertake this role as part of the Department's Bomb Damage Evaluation Section. The news reports explained his role:
"Department says that right through the war specially trained photographers of the Bomb Damage Evaluation Section followed immediately behind the assault troops into newly-captured enemy territory to photograph the effects of our own bombing on buildings, bridges, pillboxes and from these pictures armament specialists were able to observe the particular effect, under actual war conditions, of the various bombs dropped and were able to select for further attacks those having the most devastating results on given targets."
We don't know if he was involved in assessing the impact of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan or the strategic bombing campaign undertaken throughout the campaign against the Japanese mainland. Reports were issued in the post-war era on the results of these assessments as part of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey.
Whatever Kenneth's role in the evaluations, he was discharged from the RAAF on 31st January 1946.
After his discharge Kenneth moved briefly to Eden-Monaro in NSW, before settling into to Melbourne from 1963 (first in the Federal Electorate of Fawkner and then that of Higgins).
Do you have anymore information on this forgotten Hellenic Anzac?
Does anyone know any more about Him?
Where else did he see service?
As a Squadron Leader one suspects he may have served with the RAAF in the Pacific War?
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee