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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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No. 3 FTS Oxford II NZ1245 LAC. Winston Stanley Cannell

Operation: Navigation exercise

Date: 20th November 1941 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 3 Flying Training School

Type: Airspeed Oxford II

Serial: NZ1245

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Ohakea

Location: Maunganui Peak, Akatarawas district

Pilot: LAC. Winston Stanley Cannell NZ/413814 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Pilot: LAC. Charles William Baker NZ/413804 RNZAF Age 21. Killed


History of aircraft:

Airspeed AS-10 Oxford Mk.II P6876. Built by de Havilland Ltd, Hatfield, England. Arrived in New Zealand on board the SS Opawa in September 1940. Brought On chage at RNZAF Hobsonville on the 11th September 1940. Assigned RNZAF Serial NZ1245. Issued to No.3 SFTS, Ohakea.

Taking off from Ohakea at 10:30 hrs on a navigation exercise from Ohakea to Opunake and then return.

They failed to return at the scheduled time go 14:30 hrs.

An extensive search was mounted, but it failed to find any trace of the Oxford and its occupants. After two days the search was suspended. On the 26th of November, it was announced that Baker's father, William Phipps of Russell, was offering a £200 reward for any information that might lead to the discovery of the aeroplane, as he felt the pair may still be alive. He hoped the reward might stimulate local residents to go searching for the aircraft. Two days later on the 28th of November, the reward offer was increased to £500. But still, the aircraft wasn't found.

It wasn't until April 1943 that the crash site was located at location detailed, with the bodies of the two crew recovered on the 14th of April 1943.

It appears that they had become lost in bad weather and had hit trees that had made the aircraft uncontrollable, and it had continued on and hit further trees, flipping upside-down and crashing onto the Maunganui Peak, near the Akatarawa Valley, part of the Tararua Ranges.

Court of enquiry:

(1) From the evidence available, the Court can only assume that the loss of Oxford NZ1245 is attributable mainly to the bad weather conditions prevailing in part of the route to be flown.

(2) The Court is of the opinion that the aircraft and equipment were in serviceable condition prior to the exercise.

(3) The weather conditions immediately prior to setting out on the exercise were such that the Flight Commander was justified in authorising the flight.

Below: 'B' Flight of pilots course 19D, No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School, RNZAF Whenuapai. 18th August 1941.

L-R: Rear; Charles William Baker, L.R Andrews, Derek Richard Sidney Dixon, Raymond Herbert Brookbanks, Jack Norman Doherty, J.W Buckley, Russell Howard Brown.
Centre; H.J Burrett, William Renals Barnett, P.G Fisher, MR Cooper, Winston Stanley Cannell, C.W Dryland, I.B Culpin.
Front; W.F Ensor, A.R Cruller, C.J Dormer, D.F Crossey, Edward Charles Hibbs Doherty, M. Davis, Murray Waldron Bentley.

Burial details:

LAC. Winston Stanley Cannell. Buried on the 20th of April 1941 at the Matamata Public Cemetery. Grave 33. 9. Born on the 20th December 1917 in Cambridge, New Zealand. Worked as a farmer with his father at Peria. Enlisted at Levin on the 06th July 1941 as a pilot under training With No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School on 17th August 1941. With No. 3 Flying Training School on 26th September 1941. Pilot badge awarded on the 20th November 1941. Son of Percy Cannell, (died 28th August 1947, age 67) and of Winifred Cannell (née Hooker - died 10th July 1969, aged 82), of Peria, Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand. He had a total of 137 flying hours logged (57 solo - 35 on the Oxford).

LAC. Charles William Baker. Russell Anglican Churchyard (Christ Church). Buried on the 20th of April 1943. Born on the 30th May 1920 at Russell. Worked as a salesman for John Burns and Company in Auckland. Enlisted at Levin on the 06th July 1941 as a pilot under training With No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School on 17th August 1941. First solo on the 31st August 1941 with No. 3 Flying Training School on 26th September 1941. Pilot badge awarded on the 08th November 1941. Son of William Phipps Baker and Ada Frances Baker (née Bazeley), of Russell, Bay of Plenty. He had a total of 100 flying hours logged.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew thanks 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, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, 'For Such Deeds' Gp. Cpt. C.M Hanson, Air Force Museum of New Zealand, Wigram, Whites Aviation collection, Peter Lewis and New Zealand Aviation Forum, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 25.04.2022

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