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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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182
11th August 1945 182 Squadron Typhoon IB RB256 P/O. Lethaby

Operation: Rocket Projectile Practice

Date: 11th August 1945 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 182 Squadron (motto: 'Fearless I direct my flight'). 11 Group

Type: Typhoon IB

Serial: RB256

Code: XM-?

Base: RAF Warmwell, Dorset

Location: Chesil Beach Range, Dorset

Pilot: P/O. Albert Henry Lethaby DFC. NZ/421733 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

On attachment to No. 14 Armament Practice Camp (05-18th August) took off at about 10:10 hrs. and 25 minutes later fired several rockets from 1000 feet at a target on the Chesil Beach Range, Somerset.

When climbing away flicked over to starboard, rolled three times, during which flashes under the port wing were observed, blew up and fell into the sea. It was believed the rocket motor of one of the projectiles under the wing had burst, rupturing and igniting a fuel tank in the process. The Squadron, normally based in Denmark at B.160 (Kastrup) as part of the British Air Forces of Occupation, was at Warmwell for the course.

On the 28th March 1945 flying Typhoon IB SW418 was hit by anti aircraft fire but managed to crash land at B.78 Eindhoven, W/O. Lethaby was uninjured but the aircraft struck off charge.

Burial and personal details:

P/O. Albert Henry Lethaby. DFC. Bath Cemetery (Haycombe). Plot 39. Sec. H. Row D. Grave 251. Born 30th October 1921 at Dunedin. Worked as a butcher for Edward Bolwell of St Clair, t Dunedin prior to service. Enlisted at Rotorua on the 08th March 1942. No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School on the 13th June 1942 (first solo on the 27th June 1942) and then to No. 2 Service Flying Training School on the 05th September 1942.

Pilots badge awarded on the 30th November 1942 and promoted to sergeant on the 06th February 1943. Embarked for England on the 09th March 1943. Further training with various units before joining 59 Operational Training Unit on the 21st September 1943. Attached to Flight Leaders School 01-19th February 1944. Awarded his commission on the 22nd April 1945.

Joined 182 squadron on the 20th July 1944. Son of Thomas James Lethaby (died 30th November 1979, age 62) and Mary Lethaby (nee Reeves), Kensington, Otago, New Zealand. A total of 687 flying hours logged with 216 on the Typhoon. Completed 100 plus operational sorties. He was the last New Zealand airman to lose his life prior to VJ Day.

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, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 14-09-2021

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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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