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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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rnzaf crest
1 Flying Training School Oxford I NZ280 P/O. Alan Leslie Marshall

Operation: Transit flight

Date: 18th December 1941 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 1 Flying Training School

Type: Oxford I

Serial: NZ280

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Wigram, New Zealand

Location: Gebbies Valley

Pilot (Staff): P/O. Alan Leslie Marshall NZ/412249 RNZAF Age 21. Kiled

Pilot U/T: LAC. Ronald Stephen Brooker NZ/413810 RNZAF Age 26. Killed

Pilot U/T: LAC. Brian Patrick Fitzgerald NZ/413986 RNZAF Age 19. Killed

Pilot U/T: LAC. William Ian Lindsay NZ/413435 RNZAF Age 29. Killed


History of NZ280:

Airspeed Oxford I P2033. Built by Airspeed Ltd, Portsmouth, England. Brought On Charge with Unit No.1, RNZAF Hobsonville on the 04th May 1940 and assembled at No.1 Aircraft Depot. To No.1 SFTS, RNZAF Wigram. Issued RNZAF serial NZ280.

Taking off at 13:55 hrs. from Birdlings Flat for a transit flight to Wigram.

It strayed off course in heavy rain and low cloud and ten minutes later flew into a hillside at 900 feet in Gebbies Valley, about 2 miles NE of Motukarara, near the crest of a ridge, and caught fire.

According to the accident report, the pilot was skimming along just below the cloud base and sometimes flying through hanging "lumpy" bits (from witnesses on the ground) shortly prior to flying into the top of the ridge - it was later estimated that were they another 20 feet up they would never have noticed anything was amiss and would have arrived safely at Wigram.

Left: Evening Post, 17th December 1941.

It was speculated that the pilot had inadvertently misidentified one of the roads running along the side of the valley (Gebbies or the other one) as one further around (north-west), and thus was further south than he actually was.

The three pilots under training were just 4 days short of their graduation!

Burial and additional details:

P/O. Alan Leslie Marshall. Onehunga Cemetery (Hillsborough). Grave 247.0.4. Born on the 01st January 1920 in Auckland. Attended Auckland Grammar School. Worked as an accountant for Spedding Ltd, Auckland. Enlisted on the 13th of April 1941 at Levin as a pilot under training. No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School 25th May 1941. No. 3 Flying Training School 05th July 1941. Pilot badge was awarded on the 16th of August 1941 and commissioned on the 27th of September 1941. Attached to No. 1 Flying Training School as a staff pilot on the 09th October 1941. Son of Walter Leslie and Edna Sophie Marshall (née Mackie), Mt. Eden, Auckland, New Zealand.

LAC. Ronald Stephen Brooker. Christchurch Cemetery (Waimairi). Grave 46.17. Born on the 25th of July 1915 in Dargaville. Attended Rotorua High and Grammar School. Worked as an assistant accountant for Maple Furnishing, Wellington. Served with Hauraki Regiment NZ Army territorials for a year. Enlisted on the 06th July 1941 at Levin as a pilot under training. No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School 17th August 1941. No. 1 Flying Training School 27th September 1941. Pilot bade awarded on the 08th November 1941. Son of Stephen Charles (died 1958, age 72) and Christine Louise Brooker (née Stechmann, later Humphrey - died 1974, age 83), brother of Glanville Malvern and Leslie Frederick Brooker of 6 Tererika, Upper Atiamuri, North Island, New Zealand.

LAC. Brian Patrick Fitzgerald. Christchurch Cemetery (Bromley). Grave 22.4D. Born on the 09th November 1922 in Gore. Attended Christian Brothers High School, Dunedin. Worked as a student teacher for Canterbury Education Board. Enlisted on the 06th July 1941 at Levin as a pilot under training. No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School 16th August 1941. No. 1 Flying Training School 27th September 1941. Pilot bade awarded on the 08th November 1941. Son of John Joseph (died 09th January 1968, age 74) and Nora Eileen Fitzgerald (née Hanley - died 10th August 1979, age 81), of 121 Elizabeth Road, Riccarton, Christchurch, New Zealand.

LAC. William Ian Lindsay. Wellington Cemetery (Karori). Grave 490.N.P. Born on the 14th of June 1912 in Taumarunui. Attended Wellington Technical Colledge. Worked as a labourer for the New Zealand Railways. Enlisted on the 15th June 1941 at Levin as a pilot under training. No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School 16th August 1941. No. 1 Flying Training School 27th September 1941. Pilot bade awarded on the 08th November 1941. Son of William Edward (died 9th March 1934, age 65) and Jessie Lindsay (née McRae - died 31st August 1950, age 63), of 112 Hutt Road, Petone, New Zealand.

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”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, 'For Such Deeds' Gp. Cpt. C.M Hanson, Air Force Museum of New Zealand, Wigram, New Zealand Aviation Forum, other sources as quoted below:

L-R: Rear; Brian Patrick Fitzgerald, M.L Bailey, Roy Ledlay Brabant, Peter Francis Locker Hall, Ralph Leopold Jones, Wallace Roy Mansill, A.S Lawson, J.P Riddell, William Ian Lindsay, I.W Spiers, Henry Desmond Lock.
Centre; B.H Gordon, Ronald Stephen Brooker, A.H Knewstubb, John Corfe Evison, Charles Henry Gunn, Albert Aubrey Beer, A.L Parlane, Ronald William Lornie, Neil James McCook, L.W Tabor, D.W Riddler, I.I Manson.
Front; Vickers Kitchener Cairns, T.H Alexander, Lawrence Edgar, Paul Windermere Wilson Brunton, T.H Cockerill, Stanley Leonard Portman, A.J Whitman, William George Judson, Donald Stuart Oldridge, John Robert Powell.

KTY 26-04-2022

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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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