Australian Defence Medal : Group Captain K V Robertson, RAAF

Place Oceania: Australia
Accession Number REL44178.009
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Medal
Physical description Cupronickel
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia
Date made c 2006
Conflict Period 1950-1959
Period 1960-1969
Period 1940-1949

Australian Defence Medal. Pantograph engraved around edge with recipient's details.

History / Summary

Kenneth Victor Robertson was born at Brighton, Victoria in 1915. He enlisted in the RAAF on 5 February 1940 with the service number 250752. Because of the need to train large numbers of pilots, Robertson's entire flying class were designated to become flying instructors, and he was posted as an instructor to several flight schools in 1940 and 1941, earning promotion to Pilot Officer and Flying Officer.

In April 1942 he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. In May Robertson began his career as a test pilot at Mascot, NSW. From June 1942, his duties included the testing of the early 'g'-suit designed by Professor Frank Cotton to overcome the effects of gravity experienced by pilots during flying manoeuvres. He also tested the CA-14, a variant of the CAC Boomerang fighter aircraft. Only one such aircraft was ever built. For his contribution as a test pilot, particularly his role in the 'g'-suit research, Robertson was awarded the Air Force Cross (AFC) in September 1943.

Robertson was posted to 452 Squadron at Richmond, NSW in November 1943, which moved to Darwin in January 1944. For most of 1944 he was based with his squadron at Batchelor, where he flew Spitfires in defence of Darwin. He was promoted to Squadron Leader in July.

He returned to his role as a test pilot at Laverton in October 1944 where his work included the testing of an American pattern 'g'-suit, and experiments involving aircraft in glider operations. He tested of newly received aircraft, and on 18 July 1945, he became the first Australian pilot to fly Mustang A68-648, the aircraft which is now in the collection of the Australian War Memorial.

In 1946 Robertson was posted in England attending the Empire Test Pilots School. This coincided with the growing military importance of rotary-wing aircraft. In April 1947 Robertson was sent to learn to fly helicopters. He trained on the Sikorsky R-4, the first helicopter in service with the RAF. He was then sent to the United States to Sikorsky Aircraft at Bridgeport, Connecticut where he learned to fly the Sikorsky S-51 and to take delivery of this aircraft for the RAAF. Robertson returned to Melbourne in September.

Robertson's role as a test pilot continued. In June 1948 he flew the CA-15, a prototype Australian fighter aircraft. In 1950 he piloted the experimental De Havilland GLAS II suction-wing glider. For his continued performance as a test pilot he was awarded a bar to his AFC in June 1951.

He was posted to the Aircraft Research and Development Unit at Laverton in November 1951. In February1952 this posting took Robertson to the Anglo-Australian Joint Project based at Woomera, South Australia. In 1954 was promoted to Wing Commander.

In January 1956 he left for Malaya to take up a posting as commanding officer of 1 Squadron, based at Tengah. On 31 January he flew the first of 103 operations in Lincoln bombers with this unit. For the performance of his duties while serving with 1 Squadron he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1958. Robertson returned to Australia in July 1958, and after several postings was sent to the United States to attend the US Army Aviation School to become an instructor in rotary wing aircraft.

At the start of December 1960 he was posted to command the newly-raised 16 Army Light Aircraft Squadron at Amberley. This squadron was equipped with Cessna 180 light aircraft and Bell G-2 Sioux helicopters. Robertson remained with this squadron for several years, instructing army pilots and testing newly received aircraft.

Robertson was posted to Headquarters Support Command in Melbourne in 1964. He retired from the RAAF in 1965. He remained a keen pilot in civilian life and continued to work as a flight instructor. On 17 December 1967, he was the pilot of a helicopter which took part in the initial search for Prime Minister Harold Holt in the ocean off Portsea, Victoria.

Robertson's last flight was on 14 November, 1970. He died in 1994.