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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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42 NZ squadron
17th February 1955 42 Squadron De Havilland Devon C.I NZ1815 Fl/Lt. Casey

Operation: Training

Date: 17th February 1955 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 42 Squadron Multi-engine Conversion Unit

Type: De Havilland Devon C.I

Serial: NZ1815

Code: -

Base: Ohakea Airbase, New Zealand

Location: Mt. Shingle Slip Knob, Tararua range

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Edward Daniel Casey NZ/42370 RNZAF Age 38. Killed

Pilot (U/T): Fl/Lt. William Alan Liddell Trott DFC. RNZAF Age 31. Killed


Taking off at 09:16 hrs on a duel instrument practice exercise and last heard of at 10:17 hrs.

The fate of the crew was not known for 3 days until the wreckage was spotted by a Harvard search aircraft. It transpired that NZ1815 had veered off course in very strong winds and flown into the high ground.

Newspaper report oh accident:

A Royal New Zealand Air ForceDevon aircraft, which had been missing since Thursday on a routine flight from Ohakea was sighted by search planets shortly before noon high today in the Tararua Range, north-west of Masterton. The wreckage was about 100 feet below the summit Shingle Slip Knob, a 4400 ft. peak about halfway between Mount Mitre and Mount Holdsworth. There were no signs of life.

The crew of the wrecked plane comprised of Fl/Lt. Edward Daniel Casey of Christchurch and Fl/Lt. William Alan Liddell Trott of Auckland.

Immediately after the Devon had been sighted, a group search party left for the scene of the crash. It was not expected to reach the spot before 21:00 hrs.

For the first time since the Devon was reported missing, the weather imposed sufficiently this morning for searching planes to approach the Tararuas, where it was thought the aircraft would probably be found.

Within 10 minutes of leaving Ohakea at 11:30 hrs. F/O. Hartstonge flying a Harvard sighted the wreckage from a height of 7000 feet. A Devon which was also among the search aircraft joined him a few minutes later. The Devon circled the area for some time in case there should be any attempts from below to attract attention.

Extreme turbulence prevented the aircraft from going below 7600 feet. About 16:00 hrs/ another Devon from Ohakea was able to approach the wreckage at about 5500 feet. A better view was obtained of the wrecked Devon, and the observer saw what appeared to be two bodies in the smashed cockpit.

A Masterton message reports that the wreckage of the plane was seen from Mount Holdsworth early this afternoon by two Wellington trampers, William Gibson and John Chaid. The aircraft was lying near the bush line. An advance search party left Masterton thjs afternoon in charge of Mr Graham McCallum, of the Tararua Tramping Club, Wellington.

It took walkie-talkie equipment and is in communication with the Masterton police. Another party of 14 persons, in charge of Sgt. E. Trappit, of Wellington and an Air Force party under W/Cdr. R. McKay will leave Masterton tomorrow.

High winds are believed to be hampering the morning. to be the search parties that have already left and no reports are expected until 06:00 hrs. tomorrow.

Fl/Lt. William Alan Liddell Trott DFC Citation:

'This officer has participated in a large number of sorties, during which he has successfully attacked a variety of enemy targets, including shipping, locomotives and railway coaches, mechanical transport and gun positions. Throughout these operations, F/O. Trott has shown the highest standard of skill and courage. His good work has contributed materially to the successes of the squadron. In January 1945, when returning from a sortie, F/O. Trott shot 'down an Fw.190 which had attempted to machine-gun the airfield. Some days later, in a low-level attack on a locomotive, this officer was badly wounded in the groin by a piece of shrapnel, which cantered the lower abdomen. Although in acute distress, this brave pilot flew more than100 miles to reach base and land his aircraft safely. He displayed unbeatable determination and fortitude'.

Burial details:

Due to the location, it was decided the crew be buried close to the crash site, a small service was held on the 23rd February 1955.

Fl/Lt. Edward Daniel Casey. At the crash site, Tararua range. Born on the 14th August 1916 at Dunedin. Worked as a school teacher for Auckland Education Board. Enlisted on the 12th January 1942 at Levin. Trained at No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School on the 08th March 1942, then with No. 1 Service Flying Training School on the 02nd May 1942. The pilots badge was awarded on the 27th July 1942 and commissioned on the 17th October 1942. Attached to No. 1 Service Flying Training School as a staff pilot on the 10th November 1942.

Joined 9 squadron RNZAF on the 01st November 1944 flying the Ventura. Left with the squadron to the South Pacific on the 03rd January 1945. Returned with the squadron to New Zealand on the 29th of May 1945. Joined 41 squadron on the 03rd May 1945. Placed on the reserve then re-enlisted on the 02nd February 1953. Joined 42 squadron on the 06th September 1954.

Son of Leonard Francis Casey (died 08th October 1964, age 76) and Mary Letitia Casey (née O'Connelly - died 23rd July 1971, age 83). Husband of Muriel Lois Casey (née Evans). Father of a son and two daughters, of Stockburn, Christchurch, New Zealand. A total of 2732 flying hours were logged with 229 on the Devon. He had served a tour with 9 squadron in the South Pacific during the war.

Fl/Lt. William Alan Liddell Trott DFC. At the crash site Tararua range. Born on the 04th November 1923 at Wellington. Worked as a clerk for the Public Works Department. Enlisted on the 21st December 1941 at Levin. trained at No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School on the07th February 1942 then with No. 2 Service Flying Training School on the 04th April 1942. Pilots badge awarded on the 15th June 1942 and promoted to sergeant on the 05th September 1942.

Embarked for England on the 16th of September 1942. Further training with No. 18 Elementary Flying Training School , then to No. 17 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit on the 30th March 1943. Joined 486 squadron on the 30th August 1943 flying the Typhoon and Tempest. Awarded commission on the 15th March 1944.During an attack on a train was seriously injured by flak on the 14th February 1945 and in hospital and sick leave until the end of June 1945. Returned to New Zealand on the 30th August 1945.

Transferred to the reserve on the 25th January 1946. Re-enlisted on the 20th January 1947. Flown by Dakota to Japan on the 10th of April joining 14 squadron. Joined 42 squadron on the 07th January 1955.

Son of William Ernest and Rosalie Mabel Trott (née Freeman). Husband of Hilda Trott (née Gee) Father of 2 sons and a daughter. 186 operational sorties flown during the war.

He had been credited with 6 flying bombs destroyed in July/August 1944 whilst with 486 squadron flying a Tempest.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with 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, Marty Green, Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 08-12-2021

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