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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 EFTS Tiger Moth II NZ717 LAC. Desmond Thomas Francis Hanrahan

Operation: Solo training

Date: 07th February 1941 (Friday)

Unit: No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School

Type: Tiger Moth II

Serial: NZ717

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Taieri, New Zealand

Location: As shown

Pilot: LAC. Desmond Thomas Francis Hanrahan NZ/404869 RNZAF Age 24. Killed


During solo training, the pilot had just completed a right-hand turn at 07:30 hrs when he collided at 300 feet with another Tiger Moth NZ871 from the same unit. Instructor, F/O. Leonard Frederick Poore NZ132750 RNZAF had also just executed a right-hand turn in preparation for landing.

NZ717 dived straight into the ground, killing the young pilot. NZ871 went into a spin from which he recovered and made a forced landing into a hedge. The pilot suffered a broken left arm, bruises and shock was admitted to Dunedin Hospital. His pupil LAC. Philip Walter D'arcy Stewart NZ/404962 slightly injured, with bruises and shock was admitted to the Station Hospital.

Burial details:

LAC. Desmond Thomas Francis Hanrahan. Ashburton Cemetery. Grave 3. 136. Born on the 27th of May 1917 in Ashburton. Educated at Ashburton Technical High School. Worked as a clerk for Tuckers Limited of Ashburton. Enlisted at Levin as a pilot under training on the 01st December 1940. With No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School on the 12th January 1941.

Son of Francis Joseph (died 12th July 1960) and Helen Monica Hanrahan (née Berry - died 08th March 1970, age 70), of Ashburton, Canterbury. New Zealand.

Other crew:

Fl/Lt. Leonard Frederick Poore. Born in Christchurch on the 25th June 1899. Enlisted in the RNZAF on the 16th of September 1939 and served until 28th September 1945. A total of 2,577 flying hours were logged with 2,000 as an instructor. Served in reserves until 24th July 1954. He died in Christchurch on the 15th of April 1968. (Shown top left)

Fl/Lt. Philip Walter D'arcy Stewart. Born in Wanganui on the 18th of October 1917. Enlisted in the RNZAF on the 01st December 1940. Remained in service until the 03rd December 1945. A fighter pilot who flew 300 operational sorties during 370 hours on the Spitfire. Served in 91, 129 and 616 squadron. His second tour was with 1 squadron RAF from June 1944 until the end of the war. Awarded MiD for meritorious service. Legion of Honour was awarded on the 07th May 2015. He died on the 16th of November 2020, at age 101. (Shown lower left)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot 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, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 27-07-2022

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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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