Just 69 Australian personnel have been awarded the Distinguished Service Order with Bar and only six of these are to men of the Australian Flying Corps or Royal Australian Air Force.
D.S.O. London Gazette 27.4.1943. Recommendation states 'Wing Commander Hampshire has commanded No.22 (Intruder) Squadron since 7 December 1942, during the greater part of this Squadron's outstanding operations against the enemy in Papua. He has performed several deeds of heroism which have marked him as a Pilot and a leader of outstanding merit. On 14 December 1942, he led a formation of Boston aircraft whose mission was to locate and attack an attempted enemy landing in the vicinity of Buna. Foul weather caused the formation to separate but at 0520 hours Wing Commander Hampshire, flying alone, located five Japanese Destroyers disembarking troops and equipment approximately 20 miles North-East of Cape Ward-Hunt. In the face of intense anti-aircraft fire he immediately attacked a Destroyer and dropped two 500lb. bombs achieving near misses. As stores and troops were primary targets, Wing Commander Hampshire directed his attention to these until both bombs and ammunition were exhausted. The accuracy of both bombing and strafing wrought havoc amidst the landing operations and as a result of his location of the enemy vessels, a heavy Squadron was able to attack shortly afterwards. On 4 February 1943, he again led a formation to attack grounded aircraft on Lae strip. Again extremely bad weather was encountered and it was only by the sheer grit and determination of Wing Commander Hampshire that the formation was led to the target. Eight passes over the target area had to be made before the target was actually identified and the formation was subjected to intense anti-aircraft opposition throughout. Wing Commander Hampshire drove home the attack and led his formation successfully back to base. On 5 March 1943, Wing Commander Hampshire led a formation which was detailed to bomb and strafe Lae strip at first light. Whilst leading the formation into line for the run over the target, intense anti-aircraft fire was encountered which struck his aircraft and wounded him in the leg. Despite the wound and consequent loss of blood, he drove home the attack with great determination and led his formation back to base. He was later removed to hospital where an operation was performed to remove shrapnel from his leg. On 16 March 1943, although not recovered from his wound and with his leg heavily bandaged, he insisted on leading a further formation over Salamaua. As heavy anti-aircraft opposition was anticipated and as the run over the target took the formation directly over four strong anti-aircraft posts, Wing Commander Hampshire assigned to himself the task of attacking those posts by bombing and strafing in order to reduce the opposition against the remainder of the formation and so ensure more accurate bombing. As a result this strike was the most successful carried out by the Squadron and tremendous damage was done to enemy installations. His Squadron has won a most enviable active service reputation and this reputation is basically due to the brilliant leadership, exceptional courage and never flagging determination of its Commanding Officer. Wing Commander Hampshire has completed 786 operational hours under flying conditions which must rank among the most difficult that exist.'
Bar to D.S.O. London Gazette 6.2.1945. Recommendation states 'Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Group Captain Hampshire has led the Squadron on very many sorties during which 32 enemy aircraft have been destroyed. Much of this success can be attributed to this Officer's outstanding leadership and great skill. His iron determination and unfailing devotion to duty have set an example of the highest order. Group Captain Hampshire has inflicted much loss on the enemy including the destruction of seven aircraft'.
D.F.C. London Gazette 12.5.1944. Recommendation states 'Wing Commander Hampshire has commanded the Squadron since December 1943 and has displayed inspiring leadership, great skill and gallantry. Since operating in this country this Officer has shot down three enemy aircraft at night, two of them in one sortie. In the latter of his two fights his aircraft was damaged by flying portions of disintegrating enemy aircraft. Nevertheless, he flew safely to base although his aircraft was almost uncontrollable. This Officer's achievements are worthy of the greatest praise and typical of the determination he has shown throughout his operational tour'.
Group Captain Keith McDermott Hampshire, D.S.O., D.F.C., was born in Port Macquarie, New South Wales, on 10.9.1914, and beat nearly 2500 applicants for one of 26 places in the R.A.A.F. in 1936, in which year he represented his country in swimming. Having undergone Pilot Training at 1 F.T.S., Point Cook, he was commissioned Pilot Officer in December 1937 and was first posted to No. 2 Squadron at Laverton. Promoted Flight Lieutenant in September 1939, he passed the R.A.F. Specialist Signals Course in the U.K. in early 1940 and returned to Australia to serve as Chief Signals Officer at Group Headquarters, Darwin. Between September 1941 and June 1942, when Australian troops were being transported to the Middle East and Japanese submarines were carrying out attacks against coastal shipping, he successively commanded Coastal Command's 6 and 23 Squadrons (Hudsons).
In November 1942 he was appointed to the command of 22 (City of Sydney) Squadron (Boston light bombers) at Port Moresby, New Guinea, where he was engaged in shipping strikes during the Battle of the Bismark Sea and constant bombing and ground strafing sorties at a critical time in the Japanese advance. During these intense operations Hampshire's Squadron made a name for itself which, in September 1944, the A.O.C. 9 Group, Air Commodore J.E. Hewitt, declared had 'not been surpassed in the South West Pacific Area'. Hewitt remembered Hampshire as 'an outstanding Squadron Commander who had clearly set the stamp of his personality upon his air crews and ground staff. He was a sincere, intense and determined Officer with a streak of altruism and an emotional regard for his Pilots'. During Hampshire's tenure of command 22 won numerous gallantry awards and ultimately became 'the highest decorated Squadron in that Theatre'. Indeed Hampshire was able to recommend, and Hewitt endorse, the sole air V.C. won in the Theatre at the time, this going to Flight Lieutenant Newton of 22 who was shot down into the sea on his 52nd sortie, but managed with his companion to get ashore only to be captured and executed by the Japanese. Casualties were constantly heavy and Hampshire's main problems were the availability of aircrews and aircraft. On 5.3.1943 he was wounded himself by shrapnel whilst leading an attack on Japanese defences at Salamaua.
In mid 1943 he was posted to the U.K. where in December he took command of 456 Squadron, R.A.A.F. (Mosquitos) - 'It was not long before the power of his mind and personality made itself apparent. He inaugurated a regime of thoroughness which, coming as it did after a long period of virtual inactivity, seemed burdensome at first, but before long gathered momentum and carried the Squadron along in a wave of sustained and concentrated activity which placed it among the most successful Fighter Squadrons in the service'. During the first half of 1944 the Squadron was employed in a variety of roles, which included flying night intruder sorties over occupied Europe, 'Instep' coastal patrols over the Bay of Biscay, defensive night fighting over the U.K., and finally providing night fighter cover for the Normandy beachhead.
Having led the Squadron's 16 Mosquitos from Fairwood Common to a new base at Ford in the Tangmere Sector on the last day of February 1944, Hampshire and his Radar Operator, Flight Lieutenant T. Condon, were scrambled to intercept their first night fighter kill on 24-25 March when some 120 German raiders crossed the Sussex coast - 'Soon the sound of cannon fire could be heard by the groundcrew and strikes could be seen on a stricken enemy bomber. It was a Ju.88 bomber, from Kampfgeschwader 6, which the C.O. and Tom Condon brought down at Walberton, just to the North of Ford aerodrome near Arundel. The Australian crew had closed on their AI response, and with the aid of binoculars had identified the target... Hampshire had then slid his Mosquito to the port side to avoid debris, and gave a short burst from 150 yards. The enemy aircraft disintegrated in flames, with the port wing and engine falling off'. On the night of 27-28 March, Bristol was the target for 100 enemy bombers - 'The C.O., Wing Commander Hampshire... scored two Ju.88s, which both crashed on land near Portland. Their first, again belonging to KG6, burst into flames and again one crewman was taken prisoner. The second aircraft, which Hampshire attacked at midnight was a Ju 88A-4 belonging to 3 Staffel of KG54. Despite being despatched in flames by the Mosquito, three crewmen were able to safely bale out of the disintegrating wreckage'.
The month of April brought Hampshire a further Ju.88 victory on the night of the 23-24th off Swanage, and on the 28th-29th a Do.217 was claimed as probable as no crash was seen following strikes along the wing root and fuselage. On 22-23 May he destroyed a Ju.88 South of the Isle of Wight, and on 6-7 June successfully attacked a Heinkel - 'Tom Condon saw a trail of 'window' on his AI scope, and on closing Wing Commander Keith Hampshire gained a long visual at 3,500 feet on an He. 177, in magnificent full moon conditions against a white background of clouds... He fired from 150 yards, sending burning debris from the bomber, which then burst into flames, and dropped into the sea East of Barfleur, on the tip of the Cherbourg Peninsula'. Six nights later they scored their final victory, a Ju.88 night fighter shot down into the Channel, thus contributing materially to the Squadron's place 'for 14 days after D-Day' as the highest scoring fighter unit of A.D.G.B. and 2nd T.A.F. Post D-Day the Squadron was employed nightly on a 50-mile beat between Beachy Head and Bognor Regis in the battle against incoming V weapons. In September with the V-1 threat receding he welcomed a new role providing night cover for the fatal Arnhem operations. On 10.11.1944, Hampshire, 456's longest serving C.O., was posted to Transport Command with the rank of Group Captain. On leaving Ford he was assessed by the First World War Fighter Ace and Station Commander Gerald Maxwell as 'an outstanding Officer and the finest Commanding Officer I have ever come into contact with, in my service career'. Group Captain Hampshire returned to Australia in early 1946 and retired from the service in April of the same year. He did not, however, claim his 1939-45 campaign awards until the mid-1950s.
Reference sources: Aces High, Christopher Shores and Clive Williams, 1994; Air War Against Japan, 1943-45, Australian War Memorial, Canberra; Adversity in Success, Air Vice Marshal J.E. Hewitt; Mosquito Monograph, David Vincent, 1982.