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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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1 Service Flying Training School Oxford I NZ278 LAC. Verdun Arthur Godfrey

Operation: Training

Date: 26th March 1942 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 1 Service Flying Training School

Type: Oxford I

Serial: NZ278

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Wigram

Location: South Pacific Ocean

Pilot: LAC. Verdun Arthur Godfrey NZ/415187 RNZAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Pilot: LAC. Cecil Harold Cook NZ/415685 RNZAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC1. Donald Alexander Paterson NZ/405626 RNZAF Age 33. Missing - believed killed


History: Built by Airspeed Ltd, Portsmouth, England. Serial P2031. Brought On Charge with Unit No.1, RNZAF Hobsonville on 03rd May 1940 and assembled at No.1 Aircraft Depot. Assigned RNZAF Serial NZ278. To No.1 SFTS, RNZAF Wigram.

Taking off at 08:00 hrs on a navigation exercise from Wigram - Jack's Point at Timaru - position X - Wigram. Weather conditions were described as 'suitable'. Last communication at 09:14 hrs with a crew flying NZ264

Despite 90 hours of searching by 35 Oxford sorties up until yje 01st April no trace of the aircraft or its crew was ever found.

NZ278 is believed to have crashed into the Pacific Ocean while flying in low cloud and poor visibility. LAC Cecil Cook was flying as navigator on this flight.

Burial and personal details:

LAC. Verdun Arthur Godfrey. Wellington Provincial Memorial. Born on the 02nd August 1916 at Hastings. Educated at Hastings High School. An attendant at Viaduct Service Station at Kelburn. Enlisted at Levin as a pilot under training on the 07th September 1941. With No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School 30th November 1941. No. 1 Service Flying Training School on the 11th January 1942. Pilot badge awarded on the 07th March 1942. Son of Arthur Louis and Ella Godfrey (née Derbridge), of Hastings, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. A total of 74 hours solo with 43 on the Oxford.

LAC. Cecil Harold Cook. Wellington Provincial Memorial. Born on the 10th January 1918 at Wellington. Educated at Wellington Technical College. Served 3 months in the territorial army. Enlisted at Levin as a pilot under training on the 19th October 1941. With No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School 20th November 1941. No. 1 Service Flying Training School on the 11th January 1942. Pilot badge awarded on the 07th March 1942. Son of Harold William John and Winifred Ethel Cook (née Board), of Karori, Wellington, New Zealand.

AC1. Donald Alexander Paterson. Auckland Provincial Memorial. Born on the 22nd April 1908 at Auckland. Educated at Mt. Albert Grammer School. A clerk for Lands and Survey Department in Auckland.Served in territorial army. Enlisted at Halewood on the 27th December 1940 asa wireless operator. At Electrical Wireless School 31st January 1941. Son of William and Mary Paterson, of Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand.

L-R: Rear; CB Robinson, CP Hughes, RB Hamilton, J Bettle, RW Leslie, RA Aubrey, LC Baines, EW Clarke, GH Reid, KF Shaw.
Centre; VB Murray, CH Cook, GN Simes, JA Horgan, RH Brickell, D East, DB Besley, RE Stowers, VA Godfrey, J Garrett, DP Lynskey, JS Ross.
Front; DE Wood, RH Boulden, RD Sanderson, D Polglase, FS Carter, MR Luck, AS Keogh, DL Iggo.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire 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, Air Museum of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 19-05-2022

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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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