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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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22 Squadron RNZAF Vincent NZ351 F/O. Basil Clement Harding

Operation: Army Co-operation exercise

Date: 03rd February 1943 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 22 Squadron RNZAF

Type: Vincent

Serial: NZ351

Code: TX-?

Base: RNZAF Norwood

Location: Erina, Wairau Valley

Pilot: F/O. Basil Clement Harding NZ/416480 RNZAF Age 22. Killed.

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Joseph McAleer NZ/391412 RNZAF Age 22. Killed.

PX: F/O. Walter Donald McKay NZ/411592 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

PX: F/O. Sidney Eric Tanner NZ/416202 RNZAF Age 26. Killed


Ex 55 squadron RAF Aircraft K6343. Assembled at No. 1 Aircraft Depot and BOC Unit 1, Hobsonville on 06 December 1939. With No.1 GR Squadron, Whenuapai October 1940 - December 1941. To No. 22 Squadron, Ohakea February 1943. Written off books at Bleheim on the 25th February 1943.

Detached to RNZAF Woodbourne on a low-level Army Co-operation exercise. At 10:00 hrs the aircraft executed a steep left hand turn at 50 ft and whilst concentrating on the target the aircraft stalled and spun into the ground at the location shown.

The two crew and two passengers - flying instructors from No. 2 Service Flying Training School, was killed.

Burial and personal crew details:

F/O. Basil Clement Harding. Havelock North Cemetery. Grave 2.7P. Born on the 04th December 1920 in Waverley. Educated at Hastings High School. A shepherd for R.A, Berry at the Kiore Station in Tobago Bay. Served 3 years in the territorial army. Enlisted at Levin as a pilot under training on the 29th November 1941. With No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School 10th January 1942. No. 2 Service Flying Training 08th March 1942. P[ilot badge awarded on the 05th May 1942 and commissioned. Tao Air HQ for 'special training' on the 11th July 1942 at Trentham. With 6 squadron on the 22nd of August 1942, 21 squadron on the 17th of October 1942. 22 squadron 09th November 1942. A total of 269 solo flying hours with 73 on the Vincent.

Son of Noel Clement Harding (died 1977, age 82), and of Rose Gwendolen Harding (née Hill - died 1973, age 82), of Hastings, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. (Grave photograph available on request)

Sgt. John Joseph McAleer. Waimate Cemetery. Grave 535. Born on the 23rd September 1920 in Waimate. Educated at Waimate High School. A labourer for Peter Burke in Morven. Enlisted on the 21st November 21939 at Levin as an aircraft hand but re-mustered as a wireless operator air gunner on the 18th May 1942. With 6 squadron on the 17th June 1942. 22 squadron on the 07th of October 1942. Air gunner badge awarded on the 08th November 1942 and promoted to sergeant.

Son of John McAleer (died 04th February 1958, age 80), and of Jessie May McAleer (née Russel - died 21st August 1932, age 43), of Morven, Canterbury, New Zealand. (Grave photograph available on request)

F/O. Walter Donald McKay. Devonport Cemetery (O'Neill's Point). Block G, Grave 237. Born on the 11th of January 1922 in Mangōnui. Educated at Mount Albert Grammar School. A warehouseman for Sargood, Son and Ewen Ltd in Auckland. Enlisted on the 10th March 1941 at Hobsonville as an aircraft hand but re-mustered as a pilot under training on the 10th November 1941. With No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School on the 10th January 1942. With No. 3 Service Flying Training School on the 07th February 1942 then to No. 2 Service Flying Training School on the 08th March 1942. The pilot badge was awarded on the 04th April 1942 and commissioned on the 13th of June 1942. To No. 2 Service Flying Training School as staff pilot on the 16th September 1942.

Son of Donald John (died 21st May 1965. age 71) and Ivy Martha McKay (née Whitehall - died 20th April 1983, age 82) of Mangōnui, New Zealand. (Grave photograph available on request)

F/O. Sidney Eric Tanner. Havelock North Cemetery. Grave 19.Q. Born on the 10th September 1916 in Napier. Educated at Napier Technical College. An orchardist for F.C. Twigg of Havelock North. Enlisted at Levin as a pilot under training on the 08th November 1941. With No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School 21st December 1941. No. 2 Service Flying Training School on the 07th February 1942. The pilot badge was awarded on the 04th of April 1942 and commissioned on the 13th of June 1942. With No. 2 Service Flying Training School as a flying instructor on the 16th of September 1942.

Son of Joseph Henry (died 18th September 1963, age 82) and Annie Tanner (née Mcpherson - married 02nd September 1914, in Otane) of Andrews Road, Havelock North, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. (Grave photograph available on request)

Above L-R: Rear; Fowler, Haynes, Beazer, WD Walker, McIlraith, Newey, Nicol, Salt, Boyes, Hickinbotham, Harrison, Transom.
Third Row; AR Walker, Irwin, McPherson, Harvey, Brabin, Veint, Norman, Morgan, Kennedy, Harding, Beresford, Thomas.
Second Row; Turvey, Bourke, Stevenson, Burton, Voss, Cook, Lawson, Darton, Henry, Focerty, Thornley, V Smith.
Front; Worsp, Chaffe, Chattock, Archibald, Moore, Butt. (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

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 24-09-2022

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