Keen, Cadet Thomas Llewellyn MC (210)

No 6 Training Sqn AFC

Thomas Keen was born in Canterbury, Kent, England and was aged 24 and working as a Station Overseer when he enlisted in the 7th Light Horse in Liverpool, NSW, on 31 October 1914. He left Sydney on HMAT A33 Ayrshire on 20 December. By August 1915 he had been promoted to Sergeant while serving at Gallipoli, and was made Regimental Sergeant Major while serving in the Egypt/Palestine campaign in April 1916. The Gazette of 16 September 1918 carried the news that WO Keen had been awarded the Military Cross for action with the 7th LH north of the Umm esh Shert track during the raid to Amman on 28 March; the citation reads: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in maintaining communications between squadrons. To do this he had to expose himself to exceptionally heavy rifle and machine gun fire, and it was owing to his resource in taking and sending messages that the regiment was kept together. He had already left the Light Horse in May 1918 to embark on pilot training in England.

He suffered from some minor illnesses during his flying training, which delayed his qualification as a pilot, but in February 1919 he was posted to No 6 Training Sqn at Minchinhampton to resume his course of instruction.

He was killed in a flying accident at Miserden Park near Sheps Combe on 12 March 1919 when he dived through low cloud and struck the ground while flying SE 5a D3499. On his last day of instruction, he had taken off from Rendcombe aerodrome to practice aerial fighting with Capt Les Holden, who was flying another SE, but they were separated in low cloud. A Court of Enquiry concluded that he had become lost in thick cloud and mist and descended to determine his location, only to collide with a tree.

Cdt T L Keen is buried in Leighterton Church Cemetery, Gloucestershire, England.

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