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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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Delivery Flight Oxford I NZ1251 F/O. Harry Nalder Major

Operation: Delivery flight

Date: 30th September 1940 (Monday)

Unit: No. RNZAF Ohakea

Type: Oxford I

Serial: NZ1251

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Ohakea, New Zealand

Location: Pukearuhe

Pilot: F/O. Harry Nalder Major NZ/2522 RNZAF Age 29. Killed

Fitter: Fl/Sgt. Sheldon Benton Smith NZ/34167 RNZAF Age 25 Killed

Equip ASss: Cpl. Raymond Bernard Smith NZ/38217 RNZAF Age 22. Killed


Airspeed AS-10 Oxford Mk I. Built by Airspeed Ltd, Portsmouth, England with RAF Serial P8855. Brought On Charge with Unit No.1, RNZAF Hobsonville on the 30th August 1940. Allocated RNZAF serial NZ1251.

Taking off at 11:45 to deliver the new aircraft from Hobsonville to Ohakea but went 'missing' after encountering bad weather. An intensive air search was undertaken and a reward of £50 was offered for information as to its fate.

It was not until five months later that the wreckage of NZ1251 was discovered by two pig hunters They reported on the 02nd March 1941 that they found the aircraft in dense bush on the seaward side of therein road between Tongapurutu and the Mohakatino River. The Oxford was submerged in a large pond concealed by the thick bush at Pukearuhe. All three crew had been killed instantly in the crash.

Burial details:

Note: The CWGC list the death of F/O. Major incorrectly as the 03rd September 1940. (As of 05-09-2022)

F/O. Harry Nalder Major. Waikumete Cemetery. Crematorium Memorial. Born on the 30th October 1910 in Auckland. Educated at aKing's College, Auckland. A sheep farmer at Braemar, Lake Tekapo.A member of Auckland Aero Club 'A' Licence awarded on the 25th October 1930. Enlisted in New Zealand Air Force. Commissioned whilst at 4 Army-Cooperation Squadron on the 19th of September 1932. Pilots badge awarded on the 05th March 1935. Mobilised in the RNZAF in Auckland in General Reconnaissance squadron on the 04th September 1939. Osaka as a staff pilot on the 17th November 1939. His service number was allocated posthumously at the end of the war.

Son of Charles Thomas Major, and of Mabel Major (née Nalder, later Osmond), of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Fl/Sgt. Sheldon Benton Smith. Waikumete Cemetery. Prot. Soldiers Area G, Row 3, Grave 21. Born on the 24th of October 1914 in Napier. Educated at Wanganui Technical College. Served 1 year in the territorial army. Enlisted at Trentham as engineer fitter under training on the 04th May 1934. At Hobsonville on 31st October 1934. Discharged to reserve 23rd November 1936. Ground engineer for East Coast Airways in November 1936. Ground Engineers licence awarded on the 04th December 1936. Wellington Aero Club by 22nd July 1937. 'A' Licence awarded on the 01st November 1937. RNZAF Civil Reserve Pilot and member of Wellington Aero Club. Enlisted as fitter Aero Engine 10th November 1939. Promoted to sergeant on the 01st January 1940.

Son of Henry (died 12th July 1970) and Ivy Helen Helen Smith (née Benton - died 14th March 1973) of Mount Eden, Auckland, New Zealand.

Cpl. Raymond Bernard Smith. Waikumete Cemetery. Prot. Soldiers Area G, Row 3, Grave 19. Born on the 20th of April 1918 in Gisborne. Educated at Wellington Technical College. A shop assistant for E.W. More Clothing in Wellington. Enlisted at Trentham as an aircraft hand on the 04th May 1938. Equipment assistant on the 01st January 1939. Osaka on the 12th of September 1939.

Son of Alfred Ezra (died 24th March 1926, age 49) and Helena McDonald Smith (née Chambers - died 02nd June 1936, age 53) of Gisborne, New Zealand. His brother, F/O. Harry Francis Burton Smith NZ41641 also lost his life. 9 Squadron Lancaster I W4230 details here.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot, 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, Frangipani for grave photographs, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 05-09-2022

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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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