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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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19th July 1943 781 Squadron Barracuda II DP868 P/O. (A) Archibald

Operation: Delivery flight

Date: 19th July 1943 (Monday)

Unit: No. 781 Squadron (motto: 'Reliability') Fleet Air Arm

Type: Barracuda II

Serial: DP868

Code: -

Base: H.M.S. Daedalus, Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire

Location: Butter dean farm, Berwickshire

Pilot: P/O. (A) Arthur Herbert Percy Archibald NZ/3171 RNZN Age 23. Killed


On a delivery flight from Worthy Down in Hampshire when the engine failed and crashed at Butter dean farm, 12 miles West of St Abbs Head.

The young New Zealand pilot, who was flying solo, lost his life. It seems that the Fairey Barracuda suffered a fairly high rate of unexplained fatal crashes

Burial details:

P/O. (A) Arthur Herbert Percy Archibald. Fogo Churchyard. Sec. E. Grave 9. Born on the 30th June 1920 at Opotiki. Worked as a clerk for New Zealand newspapers Ltd prior to service. Joined the RNZN on the 28th August 1941. Embarked for England on the 31st August 1941. Embarked for Canada on the 15th May 1942. Pilots badge awarded and promoted to P/O. (A) on the 11th September 1942 after training with No. 31 Service Flying Training School. Embarked for England on the 22nd October 1942. Joined 781 squadron on the 26th March 1943. Son of Percy Stanley and Ada Archibald (née Fryer), of Epsom, Auckland City, New Zealand. A total of 344 flying hours logged. (further details below)

Note: Two other New Zealand airman are also buried in the churchyard: Fl/Sgt. Will Andrew NZ/415280 - Killed on the 27th July 1943 whilst with 54 Operational Training Unit, on Beaufighter IIF T3419 - Fl/Sgt. Terence Cosson NZ//417024 - Killed on the 09th June 1943 also whilst with 54 Operational Training Unit, on Beaufighter IIF V8163.

Special additional information on P/O. (A) Arthur Herbert Perry Archibald by Sonia Edwards researching all who lost their lives from the Bay Of Plenty area of New Zealand. Others include 2 Canadian, 5 Australian and 6 British airmen.

Arthur Herbert Percy Archibald (1920-1943) was born in Opotiki 30 June 1920. His parents, Percy Stanley Archibald (1893-1996) and Ada Archibald (nee Fryer, 1895-1980) had three older daughters before Arthur was born: Pearl Winifred 1915 (m. L A Rose) Agnes Alfreda 1916 (m. R T Johnston) and Nancy Faith 1918 (m. Kendell). Arthur attended Waiotahi Valley School before leaving Opotiki. He attended Seddon Memorial Technical College, in Auckland. His parents moved to Epsom in Auckland while he was at Primary School. When he left school, Arthur joined New Zealand Newspapers Ltd. (The Auckland Star) as a clerk.

In 1941 Arthur Archibald volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm at HMS Philomel in Auckland before transferring to the Royal Navy Base in Wellington 28 August 1941, to join the 49 members of the 14th Scheme F Draft there.

Arthur Herbert Percy Archibald.Like all the volunteers in the draft, NZ3171 AHP Archibald was attested but not kitted out before they sailed on 1 September 1941. The trainees remained in mufti as they sailed aboard the SS Rimutaka for Glasgow. Archibald joined 33 Pilot’s Course at HMS St. Vincent which was the Fleet Air Arm pre-flight training establishment at Gosport, near Portsmouth in Hampshire, before spending time at HMS Daedalus at Lee-on-Solvent about January 1942. He completed his elementary flying as a Pilot under training, in Tiger Moths at 14 Elementary Flying Training School, RAF at Elmdon near Birmingham.

Most further training was undertaken in Canada where the skies were safer, consequently Arthur Archibald was attached to the Air Crew Dispatch Centre RAF at HMS Saker in Canada, during May 1942. The draft he joined for service training flew Harvards from 31 Service Flying Training School, RAF, at Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Here, on 11 September 1942, he gained his pilot’s flying badge and was promoted to Petty Officer Air. The casualty rate in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm was about one in every five of those who served. Accidents in training were frequent.

On his return to the United Kingdom NZ3171 Archibald was attached to HMS Daedalus again for further advanced flying courses. He went to 9 Pilots’ Advanced Flying Unit, RAF, at Errol, Perth, and Kinross. In November he was attached to a training squadron at Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton, in Somerset (HMS Heron) for a fighter course at No1 Fighter School.

In March 1943 Petty Officer Pilot Archibald was attached to 781 Squadron which was a communication unit at the Royal Navy Air Station Lee-on-Solent. (HMS Daedalus) He flew various types of aircraft during this time and was making a delivery flight from Worthy Down in Hampshire to Scotland when he crashed on Monday, 19 July 1943, at Butterdean farm, near Grantshouse, on the Scottish Borders.

The Fairey Barracuda II DP868 crashed near the RAF Station Charterhall, in Berwickshire, Scotland, after engine failure. The pilot was the sole occupant. He was buried at Fogo, a mile NNE of Charterhall, with several other servicemen who died over the years of the conflict. Arthur Archibald’s grave was in Section E grave 9, in the Fogo Churchyard.Pilot NZ3171 Pilot Officer (Airman) Arthur Herbert Percy Archibald RNZN was aged 23 years.

The New Zealand Herald reported this Naval Airman’s death on 30 July 1943. He was educated at Royal Oak School, and Seddon Technical High School. Arthur Archibald played rugby for Technical Old Boys’ Club. He was also a keen yachtsman. The Auckland Star reported that the Auckland Rugby Union sent a letter of condolence to the parents of Petty Officer A H P Archibald.

He was remembered in the Waiotahi Valley School Golden Jubilee Booklet, 1966, where he must have begun his schooling. His name is within the Hall of Memories at Auckland War Memorial Museum. The New Zealand Fleet Air Arm Association was formed in 1946, by New Zealand Fliers. They support a museum at the Museum of Transport and Technology, (MOTAT) in Western Springs, Auckland.

Credits: Auckland Weekly News 18 August 1943, ALLISON David Flying Navy : New Zealanders who flew with the Fleet Air Arm.2009 p 142, New Zealand Herald Volume 80, Issue 24649, 30 July 1943, Auckland Star Volume LXXIV, Issue 184, 5 August 1943 page 7.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Sonia Edwards and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 26-07-2021

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