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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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485 (NZ) Squadron Spitfire LF.IX EN573 F.O. Terence Stephen Franklin Kearins

Operation: Ramrod 142

Date: 15th July 1943 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 485 (NZ) Squadron (motto: Ka whawhai tonu - 'We will fight on). 11 Group

Type: Spitfire LF.IX

Serial: EN573

Code: OU-?

Base: RAF Biggin Hill, Kent

Location: West of Hesdin

Pilot: F/O. 'Terry' Terence Stephen Franklin Kearins NZ/404877 RNZAF Age 22. Evaded (1)


Taking off at 16:00 hrs with 11 others on a bomber escort operation to Amiens, the first of two Ramrod operations on this day by the squadron. Set course to Rye to rendezvous with the bombers at 16:35 hrs. The bombers reported good results and 485 squadron escorting them home, all but one from the squadron landing at 17:25 hrs.

During the return trip White and Green section were attacked by 15-20 Fw190s. A heavy dog fight ensued.

F/O. Kearins was flying as No. 2 to Sq/Ldr. John Checketts (2) they engaged with enemy aircraft. They had just shot down a Fw.190. F/O. Kearins aircraft was hit by long range fire from other German fighters where his plane was set in flames and was seen to go down but no parachute was observed. Amazingly F/O. Kearins managed to bale out and survive, but was badly burnt, and evaded capture.

Above L-R: Evaders, F.O. Terence Kearins, Sq/Ldr. John Checketts (2) and Sgt. Søren Liby

The post evasion report explain his evasion fully:

'I took off in a Spitfire from Biggin Hill about 16:00 hrs. on the 15th July 43 to escort bombers to Amiens. I was flying as No. 2 to Sq/Ldr. Checketts. We shot down one Fw190 before my aircraft was hit from long range and set on fire.
I baled out and came down 4 or 5 miles West of Hesdin about 17:00 hrs.
I landed between a ploughed field and a wheat field.When I was a 100 feet up I saw two girls and a boy, and as soon as I hit tho ground I picked myself up and asked the two girls, in French, to hide my parachute the boy, of his own accord, then took me to a wood about half a file away.
I hid my Mae West, tunic, and some English money, under blackberry bushes in the wood, as I thought I heard Germans approaching, I left the wood and laid down between a tree stump and a hedge.
I remained here till dusk, mу clothes had been burned off me.
At dark, I went to a farmhouse about half a mile from where I had been hiding, and found a hay shed, where I remained all night.
In the morning (16th July), the farmer and his sons came out. I called one of the younger boys and told him I was English.
He fetched his father, who immediately had some clothes brought for me, as well as half a dozen eggs, and some broad.
They would not take any money and kept on saying 'nix', apparently thinking I was German.
I went back through the wood and, immediately afterwards, started walking S.E.
During the day I spoke to about half a dozen labourers in the fields.

They were all sympathetic, and gave me food and wine, and also directions as to where there where likely to be Germans.
I did not manage to get very far that day, having been badly burned, and about 21:00 hrs. I went to a house in a small hamlet.
I had some difficulty in convincing the people that I was English, but eventually I was taken in and given food, and the man showed me how to avoid the German patrol after dark.
About midnight I lay down in a field and went to sleep.
I slept till about 06:00 hrs. (17th July). I then spoke to a woman who was milking cows, but she would not have anything to do with me.
I went on for about a quarter of a mile to the main Hesdin-Abbeville road, on which there was a patrol.
I crossed the road and walked to the neighbourhood of Le Quesnoy-en-Artois, arriving about 15:00 hrs.At dusk I went to one of two isolated farmhouses.

Asked an old woman for help, telling her I was English, but she suspected me of being German. As I turned to leave her, I was so exhausted that I almost fell.
She then took me into the house and gave me food, taking away my flying boots.
About an hour later her husband came in and they stripped me and, after attending to my burns, they insisted on my staying.
I was in bed here for the next six weeks.Tho local doctor was a German sympathiser, but the farmer got ointment from the chemist and treated me himself.
I remained in this house for two and a half months, till the 24th September.
During this time contact was made with an organisation, which arranged the rest of my journey'.

Burial details:

None - he survived the war.

(1) Terence Kearins CdeG(Fr) was born on the 15th November 1921, in Dannevirke. Son of John Terence (died 04th April 1949, age 60) and Mercie Franklin. Worked as a farmed near Woodville until joining the RNZAF on the 30th November 1940. Member of the 'Caterpillar' and 'Late Arrivals' clubs Transferred to the reserve on the 24th April 1946. Retired from reserve on the 31st May 1955. After the war settled with his wife and bought a dairy farm in Aranui Rd, Kairanga. Died at the early age of 56 on the 25th October 1978. Cremated on the 23rd October and ashes left at Kelvin Grove Cemetery, Palmerston North. Although we have been advised that they may have been scattered on family graves in Terrace End Cemetery, Palmerston North.

Croix de Guerre with Silver Star (Fr) Awarded on the 05th June 1946:

'Between 6th June and 22nd August 1944 F/O. Kearins carried out over 60 offensive sorties on a great variety of missions. On three separate occasions, he was by his cool airmanship able to bring damaged aircraft back to base. He has destroyed a number of transports. Prior to the above dates, he was shot down over France and made a daring escape, bringing with him a number of airmen'.

(2) Sq/Ldr. John Milne Checketts NZ/403602 (Later Wing Commander DSO. DFC) By a quirk of fate was shot down on the 06th September 1943 and evaded capture along with F/O. Kearins and a Norwegian fighter pilot, Sgt. Soren Kjell Liby FP.12024. He died on the 21st April 2006, age 94.

Above: L-R: Rear; Cpl. Len Jordan, Douglas Forrester Clarke NZ/417018 (died 20th March 2006), Leslie Samuel McQueen White NZ/413919 (died 23rd July 1988), John Francis Pym Yeatman NZ/411965, Allan Bennetto Stead NZ/411996 (Killed 06th January 1945), Herbert William Bernard Patterson, Lindsay Stuart Black NZ/40961 (Flight Commander - killed 05th March 1945), John Brown Niven 109061 RAF (Commanding Officer - died October 1986), Owen Leslie Hardy NZ/411399 (Flight Commander), Frank Transom, Terence Stephen Franklin Kearins NZ/404877, Desmond Xavier O'Halloran NZ/415418 (died 17th December 2008), Desmond Roberts, Keith James Macdonald, Clinton McInnes NZ41651(killed 15th November 1944), Maxwell Amner Collett NZ/422260 (died 25th December 2022).

Front; Edward George Atkins NZ/422246 (died 16th October 2012), Athel J. Downer, William Adino Newenham, Royce Harry de Tourret NZ/412213, John Arthur Houlton NZ/413543 (died 16th April 1996), James Norby King (Adjutant) Donald Graeme Lane Taylor (died 14th February 2014), F/O. A. Hutton, Donald Graeme Lane Taylor (died 8 February 1945), William Adino Newenham, Joseph Robinson, Lloyd Mackay Ralph (died 22rd May 1983), Maurice Colgan Mayston NZ/422304, Russell Murray Clarke NZ42190 (died 06th January 2011)

Terry's son spoke to Radio New Zealand about his father's escape and the Forgez family in France

Original: Radio New Zealand

(we hold a copy of his evasion interview as well as the squadron operation book for July 1943, if interested parties would like a copy)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: 'For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3', New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, 485 Squadron Facebook page, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, National Archives, Kew, WO-208/3315/62. C. Hanson 'By such deeds'.

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 01-06-2023

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