28.11.1942 No. 485 Squadron Spitfire Vb EP595 Fl/Lt. Shand DFC
Date: 28th November 1942 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 485 Squadron (12 Group)
Type: Spitfire Vb
Base: RAF Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Michael Moray Shand DFC. NZ/391368 RNZAF Age 27. PoW No: 833 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
REASON FOR LOSS:
Earlier in the war this pilot was taking part in the 'Battle of Britain' when he was shot down on Sunday the 25th August 1940 flying Spitfire I R6969 with 54 Squadron. He managed to force land the aircraft at RAF Manston even though he was seriously wounded.
Spending several months in hospital receiving treatment and then posted to RAF Exeter for operation room service - it was not until the 21st October that he was able to join 485 Squadron on operations.
Taking off at 11:20 hrs. with five others from RAF Kings Cliffe in Northamptonshire on a 'Rhubarb' operation to Oosterschelde.
2 of the squadron failed to return, another returned to RAF Kings Cliffe after an apparent remarkable escape.
The squadron successfully attacked a tanker barge on the Westerschelde and were then proceeding to the designated target area at Oosterschelde. (see map)
Some reports state they were attacked by Fw109's during an attack on a He115. Other reports state that they were hit by anti-aircraft fire.
20 year old, F/O. Hugh Somerset Tucker NZ/415042 RNZAF (1) had a remarkable escape - some reports state that he landed damaged but managed to take off again in Spitfire Vb EP115 (2), either way it appears he was hit but managed to fly his aircraft back to RAF Kings Cliffe where it was repaired and placed back into service.
21 Year old Sgt. Norris was not so lucky. Hit by it is thought by Uffz. Heinz Fuchs of 4./JG1 at around 12:10 hrs. crashing in the area of Kruiningen. The aircraft caught fire on crashing, but his body was recovered by the Germans - buried on the 2nd December.
P/O Shand was shot down by Fw Ernest Winkler 4/JG1 about 5km NW of Waarde Zeeland, and taken PoW, ending up in Stalag Luft Sagan.
Above L-R: Fl/Lt. Ronald Lavender Baker (Loss details here) Sq/Ldr. Reginald Joseph Cowan Grant (Loss details here) Fl/Lt. Michael Moray Shand.
Shand and his fellow New Zealander Squadron Leader Henry Leonard Trent (shown right
) NZ/2481 VC (3), planned to "hard arse" it on foot to Czechoslovakia in the hope of getting to Switzerland. They had no great expectation of reaching England, and felt it would be impossible to make it across the frozen countryside undetected - but they felt they "had to do something".
The two men moved down the 100-metre tunnel, codenamed "Harry", after midnight on the night of March 24/25 1944. Delays meant that it was almost 05:00 hrs. when they reached the exit, which came out in the open, a few yards from the intended spot in the cover of woods.
Shand was the 76th prisoner to emerge from the tunnel and was running across the dead ground to the woods when a patrolling guard spotted Trent emerging.
Shand threw himself to the snow-covered ground. In later years he observed: "I knew we had been rumbled. I don't think the goon knew what was going on either as we all froze.
"The minute he looked away, I made a run for the woods. That was it, I was out." The startled guard fired his rifle, but the bullet passed over Shand's head as he dived into the woods.
Left: Fl/Lt. Michael Moray Shand
Finding himself alone, Shand began to walk and was on the run for almost four days, travelling at night and resting by day. The weather conditions were harsh, and he was finally caught by two railway workers as he was waiting to jump on a freight train. He was taken to Gorlitz Prison, where he found himself amongst a group of fellow escapers.
Over the next two days the Gestapo took most of the recaptured RAF prisoners away. Shand was one of a group of four who were collected by the Luftwaffe and returned to Sagan, where he was horrified to learn that most of his colleagues had been shot by the Gestapo.
The final total of those murdered was 50 (some details of accused shown on the Vitz Archive). Some time later the PoW's learned that three men - two Norwegians and a Dutchman - had successfully made it back to Britain.
(1) F/O. Hugh Somerset Tucker passed away on the 5th February 2009. Age 87. Husband of Nola, father of Diane, Margaret, Lynette.
(2) Spitfire EP115 after being repaired went back into service. Sadly lost on the 13th February 1943 - this time flown by 23 year old, Sgt. Revell Jackson Steed NZ/414354 RNZAF during Rodeo 168 to Le Touquet. Pilot buried at Abbeville Military Cemetery, France.
(3) Sq/Ldr. Henry Leonard Trent VC. retired from the airforce as a Group Captain in 1965. Born on the 14th April 1915, the son of Leonard Noel Trent and Irene Violet Everett, husband of Ursula Elizabeth (née Woolhouse), father of three: Christine, Tim, Judith. He passed away on the 19th May 1986. (Further details here)
Fl/Lt. Michael Moray Shand DFC. survived the war. Born in Wellington, New Zealand, on the 20th February 1915 and educated at Nelson College. He was working in the fruit industry when, in early 1939, he applied for a short service commission in the RNZAF, starting his pilot training later that year. After gaining his wings he sailed for England in June 1940.
The RAF was desperately short of fighter pilots, and Shand was rushed through training. After just 20 hours flying on the Spitfire, during which time he never fired its guns, he was posted to No 54 Squadron. Mick Shand farmed at Wairarapa, in the south-east of North Island, until he retired in 1978. He passed away on the 16th October 2007 age 92. His wife died in 2000, a son and a daughter survive him.
Others mentioned in this report:
Sgt. Revell Jackson Steed. Abbeville Military Cemetery. Plot 6. Row L. Grave 19. Son of Lynn Arthur Steed and of Olive Steed (née Jackson), of Gisborne, Auckland, New Zealand. 320 flying hours logged and having completed 21 operational sorties.
Sgt. Francis William Norris. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen). Row D. Grave 16. Son of Thomas and Lily Catherine Norris of Hataitai, Wellington, New Zealand. Prior to service he worked for the State Advances Corporation in the legal branch. 304 flying hours logged and on his 7th operational sortie. (Loss details here)
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, Daily Telegraph for some of the text from his obituary, Roy Wilcock for his research on Sq/Ldr. Trent, Len for grave photographs, and John Jones for the update to the shooting down of P/O Shand. Other sources as quoted below: