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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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1EFTS Tiger Moth II F/O. John Alfred King

Operation: Duel instruction

Date: 14th January 1943 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School

Type: Tiger Moth II

Serial: NZ805

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Taieri, New Zealand

Location: At the Momona landing ground

Pilot (Inst): F/O. Jack Alfred King NZ/413167 RNZAF Age 24. Killed

Pilot (U/T): LAC. John Stanley Gordon NZ/426169 RNZAF Age 29. Killed


During a duel instruction training exercise, the pilot failed to recover from a spin at 14:50 hrs and crashed at the Momona landing ground and caught fire. Both pilots were killed.

The instructor baled out at a low altitude and was killed when his parachute failed to deploy in time. He was found 30 yards from the burnt-out wreckage.

It was considered that he sacrificed his life trying to release the pupil and persuade him to abandon the out-of-control aircraft.

Burial and other details:

F/O. Jack Alfred King. Waikumete Cemetery. Prot. Soldiers Area B, Row 4A, Grave 28. Born on the 18th April 1918 in Auckland. Educated at Manurewa Primary and Otahuhu Technical High School. A pharmacy apprentice for F.G Bott in Remuera. Enlisted in the New Zealand FAA as aircrew under training on the 18th of November 1940. Embarked for the UK on the 25th November 1940 on the Rangitane (further details attached). The ship was attacked by German raiders in the Pacific and sunk. He was made a prisoner but released on the island of Emirau on the 21st December 1940.

Rescued from the island on the 27th December 1940 arriving in Australia on the 02nd January 1941. He then returned to New Zealand later the same month. Discharged from the NZ FAA on the 15th of May 1941 and enlisted at Levin as a pilot under training on the 25th of May. With No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School 06th July 1941. No. 3 Flying Training School 06th September 1941. The pilot badge was awarded on the 18th of October 1941 and commissioned on the 29th of November 1941. Central Flying School 10th January 1942. With No. 1 1 Elementary Flying Training School as an instructor on the 06th September 1942. 800 solo flying hours logged with 727 on the Tiger Moth.

Son of George March (died 27th July 1951, age 82) and Catherine King (née O'Grady - died 14th July 1950, age 73), of Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand.

LAC. John Stanley Gordon. Tapanui Cemetery. Grave 145. 10. Born on the 11th March 1913 in Tapanui. Worked as a farmer. Member of Kelso Gliding Club. Enlisted at Woodbourne on the 30th of May 1942 as an aircraft hand. Re-mustered as a pilot under training on the 15th of October 1942. With No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School on the 28th November 1941.

Son of John (died 1938, age 68) and Mary Marshall Gordon (née Smith - died 1963, age 91) of Heriot, Otago, New Zealand.


On her final voyage, which had been delayed by labour disputes, she carried 14,000 tons of cargo, including foodstuffs and silver bullion, valued at over £2 million at 1940 prices. She carried 111 passengers, including CORB nurses, Polish sailors, servicemen and Radar technicians. The captain was Lionel Upton, a naval reservist who had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his "services in action with enemy submarines" in his command of auxiliary boats based at Scapa Flow in World War I. On her final voyage, which had been delayed by labour disputes, she carried 14,000 tons of cargo, including foodstuffs and silver bullion, valued at over £2 million at 1940 prices. She carried 111 passengers, including CORB nurses, Polish sailors, servicemen and Radar technicians.

Rangitane left Auckland harbour in the early afternoon of Sunday 24 November 1940, en route to Britain via the Panama Canal. She was intercepted early on the morning of 27 November 300 miles east of New Zealand by the German surface raiders Komet and Orion and their support ship Kulmerland.

The interception had been made in the dark and the German ships were unsure of what they had found, believing that it was probably a cruiser-sized warship. Their attack was made on the basis it was the tactic most likely to allow their own escape.

Once he knew that the distress signals had been received in New Zealand, Upton ordered the ship's surrender.

German treatment of their prisoners was humane and as good as could be expected in the crowded conditions, and those who died were given proper funerals. The number of prisoners aboard the German ships caused concern to the German commanders and they decided to release most of them. After an intended release at Nauru had been thwarted by poor weather, and further actions had led to the capture of more prisoners, the survivors were released on the tiny island of Emirau, off New Guinea. The remainder, mostly of military age,

Sixteen people, eight passengers and eight crew, died as a result of the action, including those who died later of their injuries.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew, 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 18-08-2022

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