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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 Squadron (RNZAF) Hudson III NZ2020 F/O. Holdaway

Operation: Training

Date: 21st December 1941 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 1 Squadron (RNZAF)

Type: Hudson III

Serial: NZ2020

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Whenuapai, New Zealand

Location: Helensville, New Zealand

Pilot: F/O. Eric Francis Holdaway NZ/1281 RNZAF Age 34. Killed

Pilot: Sgt. Eric Eldershaw NZ/413396 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

Pilot: Sgt. George Bevan Eathorne NZ/413393 RNZAF Age 27. Killed


On a circuits and landings exercise. Seen shortly before 15:00 hrs flying over hilly country in extremely turbulent conditions and apparently experiencing engine problems.

NZ2020 stalled a few minutes later at about 1500 feet. and began a steep diving turn to starboard, from which it failed to recover.

The aircraft failed to recover and crashed 5 miles west of Helensville and exploded, killing all three pilots.

Following this accident, all Hudsons in New Zealand and Fiji were grounded for several days.

The two sergeants were probably on board for type familiarisation and instruction.

Right: Evening Post 22nd February 1942

Burial and personal details:

F/O. Eric Francis Holdaway. Waikumete Cemetery. Prot. Soldiers Area G, Row 4, Grave 40. Born on the 24th of October 1907 at Blenheim. Educated at Marlborough College in Blenheim. A truck driver for R.W. Gill of Blenheim. Served 3 years in the territorial army. Member of Marlborough Aero Club, awarded 'A' licence 16th September 1929. Attended Flying Instructors course June/July 1939. Flew 219+ hours. Enlisted in RNZAF and commissioned then posted to No. 1 of 1 Elementary Flying Training School on the 16th of September 1939. Joined 1 squadron in January 1941.

Son of Vincent Stanney (died 01st January 1964, age 82) and Margaret Ann Holdaway (née Mckenzie - died 28th September 1960, age 78) of Mt. Albert, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 745 flying hours logged.

Sgt. Eric Eldershaw. Waikumete Cemetery. Cremation. Born on the 24th March 1920 in Auckland. Educated at Wellesley Street School and Auckland Grammar. Served 1 year in the territorial army. Enlisted at Levin on the 15th of June 1941. With No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School 26th July 1941. 1st solo on the 06th August 1941. With No. 2 Flying Training School 07th September 1941. Pilot badge awarded on the 18th October 1941 and promoted to sergeant on the 29th November 1941. Joined 1 squadron on the 11th December 1941.

Son of Percival and Edith Eldershaw, of Auckland City, New Zealand. A total of 152 flying hours logged.

Sgt. George Bevan Eathorne. Bromley Cemetery. Grave 189. Born on the 25th June 1914 at Christchurch. Educated at Christchurch High School. Worked as buyer/sales manager for Messrs Grocers Ltd in Christchurch. Served 5 years 6 months in the territorial army. Enlisted at Levin on the 15th of June 1941. With No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School 27th July 1941, With No. 1 Flying Training School 06th September 1941. Pilot badge awarded on 18th October 1941 and promoted to sergeant on the 29th November 1941. Joined 1 squadron on the 11th December 1941. and promoted to sergeant on the 29th November 1941. Joined.

Son of Edward John (Jack) Eathorne (died 17th February 1940), and of Margaret Eathorne (née Primmer - died 07th November 1942), of Christchurch, New Zealand and husband of Gwendoline Jean Eathorne (née Collins, later Stevens), of Bryndwyr, Christchurch, New Zealand. A total of 150 flying hours logged.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot 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 09-06-2022

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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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