OLD Elean Wing Commander Kenneth Wallis died on Sunday (September 1), aged 97.
Kenneth Horatio Wallis was born on April 26, 1916 in Ely, where his father ran a cycle and motorcycle shop. He developed an interest in mechanics tinkering in his father’s workshop and went on to build his first motorbike aged 11. Later he moved on to high-speed boats – some driven by aircraft propellers, which he made himself – and custom-built cars.
Wallis was a wartime bomber pilot who flew 28 missions over Germany. He became better known after the war as a key figure in the development of the autogyro, which, most famously, he flew as Sean Connery’s stunt double in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice.
Wallis received many national and international awards, was appointed MBE in 1996 and in July this year was awarded his Bomber Command clasp, 68 years after he risked his life over Germany. It was an award that meant much to him.
In 1942 he married Peggy Stapley, a WAAF officer, who predeceased him. They had a son and two daughters.