Kenneth FRERE Obituary

(1923 – 2018)

I had the chance to be invited by Kenneth and his wife Mary at their home in 2005.

Thanks to Kenneth I could enter and visit RAF Harwell.

Kenneth was always pleased to tell stories and to help to maintain the website.

I will always remember this wonderful airman and how Mary and him welcomed me in England.


Armstrong Witworth Albemarle

Here is below the obituary of Kenneth published in the Oxford Mail on 24th May 2018:

Kenneth FRERE (1923 – 2018)

KEN Frere, who has died aged 95, was a dedicated Liberal Democrat councillor and an RAF pilot during the Second World War.

A county councillor for Abingdon North in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he remained an active campaigner for his party up until his death.

During the war he flew Allied troops and towed Horsa gliders into battle zones across Europe.

Kenneth Frere was born on March 29, 1923, in Pretoria Road, Portsmouth. His father was a civil servant at the Ministry of Labour.

He was brought up in Dorchester, Dorset with his three sisters Peggy, Joan and Janet.

Educated at Dorchester Grammar School in the 1930s (now The Thomas Hardye School), he then worked in Barclays Bank for a short time before joining the RAF as a pilot.

After learning to fly in Oklahoma in 1943, he served with 296 Squadron RAF which later formed 38 Wing and then expanded to create No 38 Group RAF.

On D-Day he was at RAF Broadwell near Burford as a heavy bomber pilot, on standby in case reserves were needed.

A reserve was needed and Mr Frere’s colleague went and was shot down.

He later told the Oxford Mail: “One of the reasons I’m alive is because he went instead of me.”

Later based at RAF Brize Norton, he was involved in towing Horsa gliders full of men to the landing zone at Arnhem.

In 1945 his squadron took Allied armies over The Rhine and across the North Sea to liberate Norway before being posted back to Brize Norton to join a transport command unit.

After the war he worked for the Ministry of Labour in Plymouth, Bristol and then Weston-super-Mare.

It was during his time in Plymouth that he met his future wife, Mary Gander, who was a teacher in the city.

They met at a drama group called the Players Club of Swarthmore and were married in the city in April 1950.

In the early years of their marriage they moved to Bristol, Weston-super-Mare and Walthamstow – where Mr Frere worked for the Central Electricity Generating Board.

They had three children over this period, Jonathan (1952), David (1954) and Alison (1956).

A year after Alison was born they settled in Abingdon and Mr Frere took a job as an administrator at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) in Harwell.

He became an early member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) – founded in 1981 – and later the Liberal Democrats following its merger with the Liberal Party.

In 1985 he was elected to Oxfordshire County Council, winning the Abingdon North seat from the Conservatives.

Four years later he was re-elected, once again defeating the Conservatives, and he remained a councillor until May 1992.

His passion for politics and the people was evident throughout and he fought for a number of causes, including bringing upgraded equipment, such as breathing apparatus and radios to the county’s fire service.

After his tenure he continued to support the Liberal Democrats in Abingdon and was still delivering leaflets for the party in the months before his death.

Away from politics he was a governor at John Mason School for many years, treasurer of the local United Nations Association and was involved with the National Federation of Consumer Groups.

Mr Frere and his wife continued their love for theatre through Abingdon Drama Club and enjoyed being part of the Northcourt Taverners group – an informal social club for Harwell employees.

He died peacefully at Mayott House, in Abingdon, on May 7 and, predeceased by his wife Mary and son David, is survived by his children Jonathan and Alison and four grandchildren, Victoria, Edward, Adam and Eleanor.

His funeral took place at Oxford Crematorium at 2pm on June 1 – all were welcome and the family had asked for donations towards the RAF Benevolent Fund.

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