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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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RNZAF Crest
2 Service Flying Training School Oxford I NZ1257 LAC. Hildreth

Operation: Training

Date: 31st December 1941 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 2 Service Flying Training School

Type: Oxford I

Serial: NZ1257 (previously P8861 whilst with RAF)

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Woodbourne

Location: Near Renwick

Pilot: LAC. Charles William Hildreth NZ/414291 RNZAF Age 27. Killed

Pilot: LAC. Gordon Keith Claris NZ/414250 RNZAF Age 29. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Returning from a gun camera exercise when it collided with NZ1243 that were on an instrument flying exercise.

NZ1243 while undertaking an instrument take off at 10:15 hrs collided with NZ1257 who were circling the field at 800 ft in preparation to landing. NZ1257 entered a spin from which it failed to recover. NZ1243 began diving to port and crashed.

Both aircraft crashed about a mile from the airfield near Renwick, all 4 crew lost their lives.

L-R: Rear; L. Dayman, Thomas Otto Metcalfe NZ/414385, Norman John Rowe NZ/414344, D Jackson, Douglas Haig Mann NZ/414316, Kenneth Roy Aicken NZ/414372.
Third row; F.L. Welford, Murray Metcalfe NZ/413876, H.J. Wright, A.C. Kenning, R. Hayward, W. Craig, F.E. Coates, D.W. Tamm.
Second row; Arthur Valentine Bary NZ/414228, Norman Douglas Harrison NZ/4133068, Douglas Marchbank Croy NZ/414259, Arthur Henry Lamb NZ/413761, Richard Albert Illingworth NZ/413550, Guy Merson Temple NZ/413911, Robert Keith Anderson NZ/412010, Raymond Francis Connor.
Front; J.W. Morris, C.W. Francis, A.H. Dyke, Ian Butler Spilman NZ/414353, Gordon Keith Claris NZ/414250, Charles William Hildreth NZ/414291, R.L. Ewert, R.M. Nicholson, G.A. Butt.

Burial details:

LAC. Charles William Hildreth. Wellington Cemetery (Karori). 3. A1. Brick wall. Born on the 25th March 1914 at South Shields, Couny Durham, England. Educated at Birmingham Technical College and Birmingham University/ Moved to New Zealand in May 1938. Chief electrical engineer for Turnbull and Jones in Wellington. Enlisted at Levin on the 27th July 1941 at Levin as a pilot under training . No 3 Flying Training School on 07th September 1941then to No. 2 Flying Training School on 20th October 1941. Pilot badge awarded on the 11th December 1941. Son of Sgt. Frederick (RAF) and Emma Hildreth (née Wilson, of Birmingham, England an husband of Audrey Noel Hildreth (née Dunkley, later Greer), of Island Bay, Wellington City, New Zealand. A total of 83 flying hours logged with 62 on the Oxford.

LAC. Gordon Keith Claris. Wellington Cemetery (Karori). 12.C/3. (S). Born on the 06th March 1912 at Foxton. Educated at Wellington College and Victoria University. A school master for Matahiwi near Masterton. Enlisted at Levin as a pilot under training on the 26th July 1941. With No. 3 Flying Training School on 07th September 1941then to No. 2 Flying Training School on 18th October 1941. Pilot badge awarded on the 23rd November 1941. Son of William Holman Joseph (died 04th February 1956, age 79) and Edith Annie Claris (née Saywell - died 15th January 1959, age 82 , of Wellington City and husband of Zona Evelyn Claris, of Matahiwi, New Zealand. A total of 122 flying hours logged

Others:

Sgt. Matthew William Coxon NZ/401309 RNZAF Age 34. Wellington Cemetery (Karori). 27.C/3. (S). Born on the 11th February 1907 at Dunedin. Educated at Wellington Technical College. A mechanical engineer for P and T Department in Wellington. Wellington Aero Club with 'A' licence awarded on the 08th February 1937. Enlisted at Mangere and commissioned on the 14th February 1940. Pilot training terminated and commission was relinquished on 28th February 1940. Re-inlisted at Levin on the 11th May 1940as pilot under training. No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School 04th June 1940. No. 1 Flying Training School 27th July 1940. Pilot badge awarded 18th October 1940 and promoted to sergeant on the 22nd November 1940. Attached to No 2 Flying Training School as a staff pilot 09th December 1940. Son of George Anderson (died 15th March 1949, age 81) and Nichola Jane Coxon (née Veitch - died 10th January 1948, age 76), of Wanganui and husband of Margaret Jane Coxon (née Anderson), of Strathmore, Taranaki, New Zealand. A total of 229 flying hours logged with 137 on the Oxford.

LAC. James Duff Hewett NZ/414725 RNZAF Age 28. Wellington Cemetery (Karori). 45.A.C. Born on the 07th October 1913 at Rotorua. Educated at Kings College in Auckland. Chairman of Public Works Department in Wellington. In territorial army for 9 months. Enlisted at Levin as a pilot under training on the 20th August 1941. With No. 3 Flying Training School on 27th September 1941then to No. 2 Flying Training School on 09th November 1941. Pilot badge awarded on the 20th December 1941. Son of W/Cdr. James Duff Hewett AC CdeG Avec Palme (France) (died 27th October 1955, age 64) and Lynda Ellen Hewett (née Harrison), of Wellington City and husband of Joan Hewett (née Hamphill, later Neil), of Waiuku, New Zealand

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of these pilots 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, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 14-05-2022

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Acknowledgements
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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