06.01.1945 No. 485 Squadron Spitfire LF.IXE NH514 P/O. Matthews
Operation: Armed reconnaissance
Date: 06th January 1945 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 485 Squadron (135 Wing, 84 Group)
Type: Spitfire LF.IXE
Base: B65 Maldegham, Belgium
Location: Near Breda, Belgium
Pilot: P/O. Francis Charles Matthews NZ/4211615 RNZAF Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 14:15 hrs when, during an attack on a train both Spitfire NH514 and Spitfire PL394 flown by 24 year old, Fl/Lt. Allan Bennetto Stead DFC were hit by debris from the target as it blew up. The pilots reported that their aircraft had been badly damaged but were both ok.
They stated that they were planning to bale out but with insufficient height it seems that they elected to crash land. Sadly both pilots were reported as being killed during the attempt. However, some confusion as to the date of death for Frank Matthews as although the CWGC list him as losing his life on the 6th June - the squadron operational training records list him as being injured during the crash and succumbed to his injuries the following day. Errol Martyn who has researched New Zealand losses has not been able to confirm the date of death.
P/O. Francis Charles Matthews. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery Grave 4.A.9. Son of Charles and H. F. Matthews, of Palmerston North, Wellington, New Zealand. 587 flying hours logged and on his 16th operational sortie.
Fl/Lt. Allan Bennetto Stead DFC. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery Grave 4.A.6. Son of Allan Stead and of Jane Isabella Stead (nee Bennetto), of Wellington City, New Zealand. 872 flying hours logged and on his 198th operational sortie. 105 operations with 485 squadron but had previously served with 164 and 249 Squadron.
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: