24th March 1945 137 Squadron Typhoon IB RB376 F/O. Egley DFC
Date: 24th March 1945 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 137 Squadron (motto: 'Do right, fear naught'). 124 Wing. 83 Group
Type: Typhoon IB
Base: B86 Helmond, Netherlands
Location: Brunen, Germany
Pilot: F/O. Richard Akehurst Egley DFC. NZ/421690 RNZAF Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Operation Varsity was a successful airborne forces operation launched by Allied troops that took place toward the end of World War II. Involving more than 16,000 paratroopers and several thousand aircraft, it was the largest airborne operation in history to be conducted on a single day and in one location.
Above: Left: C-47s and CG-4A gliders before take-off, 24th March 1945 - Right: British paratroopers in Hamminkeln, 25th March 1945 (IWM - Wikipedia)
The operation began at 21:00hrs. on the evening of the 23rd March, and by the early hours of the morning of the 24th March Allied ground units had secured a number of crossings on the eastern bank of the Rhine. In the first few hours of the day, the transport aircraft carrying the two airborne divisions that formed Operation Varsity began to take off from airbases in England and France and began to rendezvous over Brussels, before turning northeast for the Rhine dropping zones.
Typhoon RB376 took off at 10:02 hrs to attack light flak units at Brunen.
The aircraft was hit by flak, but other pilots observed that he baled out and landed safely near Dingden.
However he was later found dead near the scene where his aircraft crashed. The young New Zealand pilot was buried on the 27th March at Dingden but later reinterred after the end of hostilities.
F/O. Richard Akehurst Egley DFC. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 11.C.18. Born on the 04th October 1923 at Wellington. Worked as a clerk for the Air Department prior to service. Enlisted on the 07th March 1942 at Rotorua. Pilots badge and promoted to sergeant on the 06th February 1943. Received his commission on the 08th August 1944. Son of Bertram Egley and of Comelia Desmond Egley (nee Mahoney), of Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 561 flying hours logged and completed over 100 operational sorties.
DFC Citation L/G 19th October 1945 - effective from 23rd March,1945.
'In recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations'.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, other sources as quoted below: