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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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8 Squadron (RNZAF) PV-I Ventura NZ4519 Fl/Sgt. Brightwell

Operation: Training

Date: 26th October 1944 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 8 Squadron RNZAF

Type: PV-I Ventura

Serial: NZ4519

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Whenuapai, New Zealand

Location: As described

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Edward Thomas Brightwell NZ/431155 RNZAF Age 29. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. James Alexander Pedersen NZ/426108 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Archibald Malcolm Charles Alexander NZ/427942 RNZAF Age 24. Seriously injured

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harold Edwin Mauger NZ/4312695 RNZAF Age 27. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Russell Trevor Robbie NZ/438203 RNZAF Age 20. Killed


After a navigation exercise over the sea returned with flaps down and making an approach at 10:50 hrs suffered a starboard engine failure. Additional power was applied to the port engine and an attempt was made to carry out a single-engine landing.

The aircraft veered to starboard, lost height and struck a tree, crashed and caught fire 4 miles northeast of the airfield. Four of the crew were killed whilst Fl/Sgt. Alexander was taken to Auckland Public Hospital but succumbed to his injuries and burns at 02:10 hrs on the 28th of October.

Probable cause: The right engine failed most probably because the fuel selector was connected to an empty tank. It appears the pilot in command was not sufficiently trained to face up to such a situation and his general experience was insufficient. When the control was lost on the final approach, the left engine was at full power and the flaps were down, making the aircraft more vulnerable. These elements were considered as contributory factors, especially since the pilot had not been adequately trained to fly in such a configuration.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Edward Thomas Brightwell. Otorohanga Public Cemetery. 19. 1A. Born on the 03rd January 1915 at Woodville. Enlisted at Omaka 22nd January 1943. First solo on the 09th August 1943. Pilot badge awarded on the 01st November 1943 and promoted to sergeant on the 22nd January 1944. 11 hours solo on the Ventura. Joined 8 squadron on the 01st October 1944. Son of Stanley Vivian (died 08th June 1961, age 74) and Eliza Jane Brightwell (née Johnson - died 24th February 1965, age 72), of Te Awamutu and husband of Alma Elizabeth Brightwell (née McGreey, later Ogilvy) father of two sons and a daughter, of Turongo Street, Otorohanga, New Zealand.

Fl/Sgt. James Alexander Pedersen. Dunedin Cemetery (Anderson's Bay). Grave 7.4. Born on the 15th of February 1923 at Dunedin. Enlisted on the 30th May 1942 at Whenuapai. A total of 362 flying hours logged. Navigator badge and promoted to sergeant on the 10th December 1943. Joined 8 squadron on the 01st October 1944. Son of Albert Pedersen, and of Elizabeth Margaret Pedersen (née Mooney - died 14th November 1976, age 77), of Broad Bay, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Fl/Sgt. Archibald Malcolm Charles Alexander. Christchurch Cemetery (Bromley). Grave 22.4.F. Born on the 24th of November 1919 in Christchurch. Enlisted at Ohakea on the 10th July 1942. W/Op badge and promoted on the 09th August 1943. Joined 8 squadron on the 01st October 1944. Son of Andrew (died 19th August 1942, age 65) and Elizabeth Lucy Alexander (née Allington - died 24th June 1967, age 90), of 91 Garlands Road, Hillsborough, Christchurch, Canterbury. Husband of Millicent Hazel Alexander (née Bright) of Timmins, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Harold Edwin Mauger. Christchurch Cemetery (Woolston). Grave 28.M. Born on the 20th October 1917 in Woolston, Christchurch. Enlisted on the 15th of September 1943 at Delta. Air gunner badge and promoted to sergeant on the 16th of September 1944. A total of 70 flying hours logged. Joined 8 squadron on the 01st October 1944. He had already completed a South Pacific tour. Son of Edwin Arthur (died 17th May 1959, age 75) and Caroline Charlotte Mauger (née Mantell - died 07th January 1927, age 41), of Christchurch, Canterbury and husband of Phyllis Lucy Mauger (née Nuttall, later Williams) father of one daughter, Carol, of 330 Riverlaw Terrace, St. Martin's, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Sgt. Russell Trevor Robbie. Wanganui Cemetery (Aramoho). Grave Q.5.210. Born on the 28th May 1924 in Bulls. Enlisted on the 09th June 1942. Air gunner badge and promoted to sergeant on the 16th of September 1944. A total of 70 flying hours logged. He had already completed a South Pacific tour. Joined 8 squadron on the 01st October 1944. Son of William Ernest (died 12th September 1964, age 69) and Elsie Henrietta Robbie (née Watts - died 16th August 1971, age 73), of Wanganui, New Zealand.

Above L-R: Rear; G.A Yandle, G.M Ahlfeld, L.P Brown, J.F Nissan, J.A Wylie, A.G Backhouse, A.A Wiblin, L.R Miles, A.B Mackie.
Third Row; K.H Kelly, N. Carr-Smith, L.T Maden, E.D Gurney, N.W Thom, D.H Barnes, J.F Hurrell, R.G Shirtcliffe, M.J Hadlow, E.K Hart, E.T Brightwell, H.C Collier.
Second Row; A.W Fitzherbert, R.A Bray, R.K Wilson, A.G Bews, I. McGregor, J.R Laurent, R.R McClymont, L.K Wilson, A.I Charles, M.D Forsyth, L.J Hoare.
Front; H.S Johnston, R.L Wilks, A.N Paul, R.C Pope, D.W Sullivan, L.H Nicol, C.J Fordham, G.M McLennan, R.A Boys, J.C McKenzie, A.J Fletcher, P.V Goddard, L.A Lansdown. (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

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

KTY 06-07-2022

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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