Sergeant (Pilot) Peter Kenneth Walley
Peter Walley was a London boy, born in Barnes in November 1919. His Father, George William Walley, died in 1933, and his Mother, Dorothy Edith Altona Walley (nee Blamey) re-married to William King Young in 1937. Peter was an only child. Before enlisting in the Auxiliary Air Force in March 1938, as an Aircrafthand/Air Gunner, he was an apprentice toolmaker.
Stan Ford, who has taken part in our oral history project, met Peter when he was working at Goldsmith’s, a builders’ merchant in Croydon. Stan was also working there in a different department, but remembers Peter as a “nice bloke”, quite tall, with a good sense of humour. He thinks that Peter was living at home with his Mum in Shirley Hill, Croydon, at the time. The two got on well and in fact it was Peter Walley who persuaded Stan to join the RAF. They eventually served together in No.615 Squadron (Peter as a Sergeant Pilot with “A” flight and Stan as an engine fitter with “B” Flight). Both men put themselves forward for pilot training, and Peter had already been selected by the time he was called to full-time service at the outbreak of war.
While most of the squadron moved to RAF Croydon in September 1939, Walley remained at Kenley, before commencing his pilot training. On completion of his elementary, intermediate and advanced courses, he returned to the squadron at Kenley on 13th July 1940, before being swiftly sent to No.5 Operational Training Unit at Aston Down, to convert to Hurricanes.
Walley returned to the squadron as a qualified pilot, along with Pilot Officers McClintock and Truran, on 6th August, 1940. All three performed dusk landings that evening. His first operational sortie occurred the next day when the squadron was sent to patrol Hawkinge. As a junior pilot, he did not fly as frequently as other members of the squadron. However, he shared in the probable destruction of a Heinkel He.111 on 16th August with his Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader Kayll. Walley flew with Flying Officer Collard and Pilot Officer Montgomery on a three hour patrol on 10th August. By the close of 18th they would all be dead.
On 18th August, the “Hardest Day”, Peter was shot down by a Messerschmitt Bf109 of Fighter Geschwader 3, near Kenley at 1.23pm. It was only his eighth sortie. Tragically, in apparently trying to avoid some houses, his Hurricane Mk.I (P2768) crashed onto Morden Park Golf Course and he was killed.
Stan attended Peter’s funeral at St. Luke’s, Whyteleafe, along with other members of No.615 squadron.
Peter is in Stan’s thoughts to this day.
A memorial plaque was unveiled near the crash site in May 1972, by Leonard Cheshire VC. It can still be seen prominently displayed at the front of Merton Technical College.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.