17.06.1944 No. 122 Squadron Mustang III FX986 Sq/Ldr. 'Nipper' Joyce
Operation: Armed Reconnaissance
Date: 17th June 1944 Saturday (1)
Unit: No. 122 Squadron. 122 Wing. 83 Group 2ns Tactical Air Force. (motto: Victuri volamus - 'We fly to conquer')
Type: Mustang III
Base: RAF Ford, Sussex
Location: Marville-Les-Bois, France
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. 'Nipper' Ernest Leslie Joyce DFM. NZ/40770 RNZAF Age 24. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 18:25 hrs with 5 others on an armed Reconnaissance operation.
No movement was seen over the planned target area but a train was spotted and strafed by the squadron - two direct hits were observed.
The squadron were then bounced by 3 Bf109's of III/JG27 and it is thought probable that Sq/Ldr. Joyce was hit and shot down by Lt. Hans Gunnar Culemann.
Hundreds of local population turned out for his funeral which was held on Monday 19th June. His coffin covered in flowers.
He took over command of the squadron on the 17th May following the loss of Sq/Ldr. Drinkwater (2).
(1) Confusion as to the date of his death - many sources point to the 17th June - others that he died / killed on the 18th June.
(2) 29 year old, Sq/Ldr. Thomas Henry Desmond Drinkwater DFC 47841 RAF shot down by anti-aircraft fire near Nours, France, flying Mustang III FZ164. His DFC Citation London Gazette, 3 November 1942: "This officer has completed a large number of operational sorties. He is an outstanding leader, who has displayed great skill and devotion to duty".
Sq/Ldr. Ernest Leslie Joyce DFM. Marville-Les-Bois Communal Cemetery. Born on the 17th February 1920 at Hamilton, the son of Ernest Joseph and Cora Winifred Joyce (née Patterson), of Hamilton, Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to service a salesman for H and J. Court Ltd. 1108 hours flying hours logged and having completed 267 operational sorties. Credited with 9 enemy aircraft destroyed, 2 probable and a further 5 damaged.
Sq/Ldr. Thomas Henry Desmond Drinkwater DFC. Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery. Plot L. Row B. Grave 21. Son of Thomas and Kathleen Drinkwater, of St. Mawes, Cornwall, England and husband of Winifred Drinkwater.
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: