Date: 15/16th March 1945 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 8 Operational Training Unit
Type: Mosquito B.20
Base: RCAF Greenwood, Nova Scotia, Canada
Location: See map
Pilot: F/O. Roger Leon Corcoran NZ/431319 RNZAF Age 21. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Douglas Charles Andrew Gillespie NZ/4215123 RNZAF Age 22. Killed
Researched for Aircrew Remembered by Sonia Edwards
REASON FOR LOSS:
At 8 Operational Training Unit (RCAF) at Greenwood in Nova Scotia, the Eastern Command held a navigation and searching exercise KB338 appeared to get into difficulty early in the searchlight exercise, with a red Very rocket indicating distress, being discharged.
The aircraft was seen to nose over, out of control, half roll, and then dive almost vertically to the ground. It was one and a half miles southeast of the airfield where it exploded on impact. The two New Zealand crew members were buried at Middleton, a few miles southwest of Kingston.
Further details on the pilot:
On the 09th January 1943 Roger Corcoran went to the Royal New Zealand Air Force Whenuapai base as an aircraft hand. He was able to re-muster as aircrew under training and was with the Initial Training Wing by 27 th May 1943. He again re-mustered as an Airman Pilot under training by the 18th August, and quickly joined 3 Elementary Flying Training School at Palmerston North.
Training for the substantial number of airmen required, had been well organised in the early years. Britain was too small to accommodate all the aerodromes necessary to enable large numbers of men to be trained and it was far too close to the main theatre of war. Canada had unlimited space and was close to the resources available in the United States. Australians and New Zealanders transferred to Canada whenever required, to complete their training.
After finishing their initial training, men were to be transferred to serve with the RAF, however all air crews were identified with their own countries. European (e.g., Polish and French) trainees were also sent to Canada. Seven squadrons with New Zealand identity were later formed in the RAF but there was New Zealand representation in almost every unit serving during the war. They were identified by NZ or AUS and added to their Identification number. A system of pre-entry instruction by classes or correspondence had been developed in the early years of the war but this was discontinued by 1942 when pre-entry education was incorporated into initial training.
In November, Corcoran was able to embark for Canada aboard the Santa Monica, to attend the Empire Training Scheme. He was attached to the Royal Canadian Air Force at Calgary by 26th November as a member of 3 Service Flying Training School. He gained his Pilot’s Badge and was commissioned 05th May 1944 before moving across the continent to Halifax, Nova Scotia. At 1Y Depot there, he joined 5 Service Training School flying Anson aircraft as a staff pilot. The Avro Anson was a twin-engine, multi-use aircraft first produced in 1935. It was reliable and widely used as a trainer.
15 November 1944 Pilot Roger Corcoran went to Trenton, Ontario, for an additional course. He next attended 8 Officers’ Training Unit flying Mosquitoes in January 1945. He had spent a full year training in Canada.
F/O. Roger Leon Corcoran. Middleton Holy Trinity Old Cemetery. Sec. 2. Grave 7. Born on the 14th of April 1923 in Gisborne. Work as a stock and station agent for NZ Loan and Mercantile Agency Co Ltd., in Whakatāne. Served in the territorial amy for 16 months. Son of William Roger and Clarice Patience Corcoran, of Whakatane, Auckland, New Zealand and brother of Brian Corcoran, NZ/425091 an Armourer with RNZAF. A total of 438 hours logged. 31 hours were solo on Mosquito aircraft
Sgt. Douglas Charles Andrew Gillespie. Middleton Holy Trinity Old Cemetery. Sec. 2. Grave 8. Born on the 03rd of April 1923 at Eastbourne, Sussex England. Moved to New Zealand at age 6. Educated at Mt. Albert Grammar School. Served 6 months in the territorial army. Enlisted at Omaka on the 27th of November 1942. Trained as a QW/Op air gunner on 14th October 1943. Embarked for Canada on the 26th of November 1943. Promoted to sergeant on the 11th of August 1944 and awarded his navigator badge on the 05th January 1945. Joined No. 8 Operational Training Unit on the 19th of January 1945. Son of Charles White Gillespie (died 11th April 1954, age 65) and of Annie Isobel Gillespie (née Craig - died 08th October 1976, age 85), of Mount Eden, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 183 flying hours logged.
Both airmen are remembered at Memorial Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on the Memorial for Airmen from Australia and New Zealand. They are both remembered at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in the Hall of Memories.
F/O. Roger Leon Corcoran has his name on the Plaque at Whakatāne War Memorial Hall in Short St. His name is on the Roll of Honour at Gisborne and on the Gisborne High School WW2 Honour Roll.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Sonia Edwards and the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Colleen Graham, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, other sources as quoted below:
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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