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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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256 Crest
26th February 1942 256 Squadron Defiant I T3995 Sgt. Joyce

Operation: Training

Date: 26th February 1942 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 256 Squadron (motto: Addimus vim viribus - 'strength to strength'). 9 Group

Type: Defiant I

Serial: T3995

Code: JT-U

Base: RAF Squires Gate, Lancashire

Location: At airfield

Pilot: Sgt. Francis William Joyce NZ/404376 RNZAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Gordon Fitzgerald Walden NZ/402117 RNZAF Age 26. Killed


Carrying out circuits and landing training.

At 20:05 hrs under extreme weather conditions the aircraft stalled approach to the airfield crashed and caught fire. Both of the young New Zealand pilots were killed.

Burial and personal details:

Sgt. Francis William Joyce. Lytham St Anne's (Park) Cemetery. Sec. D. Nonconformist. Grave 729. Born on the 02nd July 1919 at New Plymouth. Worked as a fireman at Wanganui prior to service. Enlisted at Levin on the 23rd November 1940. Embarked for trining in Canada on the 29th April 1941. Awarded his pilots badge and promoted to sergeant on the 08th August 1941. Joined 256 squadron from 60 Operational Training Unit on the 10th February 1942. Son of Frank Joyce and of Annie Maud Joyce (nee Mitchell), of Wanganui, New Zealand. A total of 196 flying hours logged with 150 solo and 48 on the Defiant.

Fl/Sgt. Gordon Fitzgerald Walden. Lytham St Anne's (Park) Cemetery. Sec. D. Nonconformist. Grave 730. Born on the 13th November 1915 at Foxten. Worked as a storeman at Wanganui prior to service. Enlisted at Levin on the 28th July 1940. Awarded his air gunners badge and promoted to sergeant on the 21st September 1941. Embarked for England on the 06th October 1940. Joined 256 squadron from 60 Operational Training Unit where it is thought he was an instructor. on the 16th December 1942. Son of Richard and Ada Evelyn Walden (nee Fitzgerald) and husband of Vera Olive Walden (nee Mooney, later Chalk) of 60 Jellicoe Street, Wanganui, New Zealand. Half brother (mothers side) to Fl/Lt. Cecil Todd NZ/411795 RNZAF. Killed on the 05th May 1944 whilst with 7 squadron. Further details here. A total of 222 flying hours logged. Completed 16 operational sorties. Credited with one enemy aircraft as damaged.

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, AWMM, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 11-04-2021

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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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