Old Camberwell Grammarians' Association

Gallery of Achievement


Mr James Kenneth (Ken) Atock (1939)

James Kenneth (Ken) Atock, VX-5403 of the 2/7th. Infantry Battalion, 6th. Division AIF was awarded with “Mentioned-in-Despatches” approved by King George VI in recognition of his gallant and distinguished service in the field during the Second World War.

Ken was the first CGS student to enlist for service in WWII aged only 18 years. He registered on the first day the newly formed 2nd AIF was established at Puckapunyal. Ken’s academic ability was quickly recognised by the Army and he was assigned to the intelligence section of the 2/7th Battalion. He performed intelligence activities and training in Egypt and Palestine and then went on to fight in active service in Libya, mainland Greece and Crete.

Ken was taken as a prisoner-of-war during the chaotic evacuation of the allied forces from Crete. During his incarceration in the POW camp, he secretly compiled intelligence information on the enemy. His notes recorded the military tactics, arms used, numbers of aircraft and troop movements in minute detail - everything of military value about the enemies’ invasion of Crete. Ken knew it was important to get this information to the AIF high command in Alexandria. He attempted to escape from the POW camp but was killed by machine gun fire on the fence wire by prison guards.

At CGS in Form V in 1936, aged 15, Ken designed, built and launched an experimental rocket at Fisherman’s Bend for the purpose of transporting mail. Ken’s achievements in rocketry were reported around Australia and recorded in the Crome collection of the National Library of Australia as the “Rarest of all Australian Rocket Firings”. The Australian War Memorial in Canberra has preserved Ken’s rockets as important historical and war related artefacts. The “Kenneth Atock Memorial Scholarship” was established in 1976, by bequest, to support CGS students’ academic performance in scientific education with the emphasis on space and rocketry.