14.08.1940 No. 206 Squadron Hudson I N7401 P/O. Ballantyne
Date: 14th August 1940 (Wednesday)
Unit: No. 206 Squadron - Coastal Command (16 Group)
Type: Hudson I
Base: RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk
Location: Sunderland Farm, Docking
Pilot: P/O. Herbert Gregory Ballantyne 36265 RAF Age 22. Killed
Pilot 2: P/O. John Oscar Lloyd Stephenson 41623 RAF Age 25. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Steel 644325 RAF Age 20. Slightly injured (1)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eddie Fitzgerald 545600 RAF Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
With the great research carried out by Errol Martyn on the Royal New Zealand Airforce losses we have been able to compile this page. If you have further information and or photographs we would welcome contact from you.
Taking off at 03:15 hrs from RAF Bircham Newton in Norfolk. A full report was made on the accident and his death was not attributed to enemy action. It was found that the accident occurred just 5 minutes later due to loss of control during a turn while in a circuit.
The Wing Commander of No 206 Squadron said "This pilot, although comparatively inexperienced, was of a very confident nature, he had done nearly half of his total flying on Hudson Aircraft. Although we cannot be certain of the exact cause of the accident, it is thought that he had his cockpit lights on too brightly, and did not realise he was over-banking on his initial turn until recovery was too late." The port wing hit higher ground to the south west of the aerodrome. The plane then crashed into the ground at a speed of 200 knots, cart wheeled over several times and disintegrated and was destroyed by fire. Three of the four crew member were killed.
Above Course No 9 Pilot training course New Zealand. Tragically all seven pilots were to lose their lives, 5 of them within months of this photo being taken! Rear L-R: P/O. Eric Orgias 36272 RAAF - killed 25th September 1940, P/O. William David Finlayson 36268 RAF - killed 24th May 1940, P/O. Herbert Gregory Ballantyne 36265 RAF - killed 14th August 1940, Front: P/O. Peter Knox Sigley 36276 RAF - killed 24th May 1940, Sq/Ldr. Peter Bettley Robinson 36274 RAF - killed 10th September 1942, F/O. Noel Carrol Pettit 36273 RAF - killed 28th August 1941, P/O. William Oscar George Krogh NZ/2521 RNZAF - killed 22nd July 1940.
P/O. Herbert Gregory Ballantyne. Great Bircham Churchyard (St. Mary) Plot 1. Row 1. Grave 7. Born on the 20th August 1917 at Hastings, Hawkes Bay, the son of Herbert Gregory Ballantyne, and of Edith Emily Ballantyne (née Hartshorn), of Puketapu, Hastings, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. A total of 317 flying hours logged and having completed some 17 operational sorties. Grave inscription reads: "Youngest Son Of H.G. And E.E. Ballantyne, Hastings, New Zealand. Dearly Loved".
P/O. John Oscar Lloyd Stephenson. Great Bircham Churchyard (St. Mary) Plot 1. Row 1. Grave 8. Son of George Henry Stephenson and of Edith Henrietta Bullen Stephenson (née Evans), of New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand. A total of 208 flying hours logged. Grave inscription reads: "Of New Plymouth, New Zealand. Resting With His Forefathers".
Sgt. Eddie Fitzgerald. Norwich Cemetery (The Rosary) Sec. O. Grave 3/302. Son of Edward and Mary Ann Fitzgerald, of Norwich, Norfolk, England. Grave inscription reads: "He Gave His Today For Our Tomorrow".
(1) Later, After surviving this accident James Steel was given two weeks sick leave before commencing operations again with the squadron, sadly he went missing on the 15th October 1940. Hudson I T9303 VX-V piloted by P/O. Derek Edmund Teden 90486 RAF (/A) during a patrol against any sea borne invasion - all 4 crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial:
Sgt. James Steel. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 19. Son of John and Marion S. Steel, of Rhu, Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Details for the other crew members available on contact from relatives.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”,Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: