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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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2 SFTS Harvard II NZ957 LAC. John William Thomas Nelson

Operation: Training

Date: 23rd January 1942 (Friday)

Unit: No. 2 Service Flying Training School

Type: Harvard II

Serial: NZ957

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Woodbourne

Location: Lake Grassmere, New Zealand

Pilot: LAC. John William Thomas Nelson NZ/414663 RNZAF Age 20. Killed


Arrived at Lake Grassmere from Woodbourne at 15:40 hrs to carry out a air gunnery exercise. On landing swung and was placed momentary out of position.

One of the schools Gordon's NZ638 flown by P/O. Peter Shiers Rishworth NZ/412740 (1) had been given the all-clear to take off with a drogue streaming behind. P/O. Rishworth was unable to see the Harvard straight ahead and collided with the NZ957. He was slightly injured but his drogue operator LAC. A.J. Griffiths escaped unhurt. The Harvard pilot was killed.

(1) F/O. Peter Shiers Rishworth Went missing on the 22nd of November 1943 flying a P-40N Warhawk NZ3169. Took off with 7 others to protect shipping over Empress Augusta Bay Bougainville area. His aircraft dropped oil pressure and had to return, escorted by 3 others. The engine failed whilst about 13 north-wests of Treasure Island at 06:45 hrs. and he was forced to bale to from around 2,000 ft. Sadly it seems he failed to release the parachute before he hit the water and it appeared he was dragged down, no trace of the pilot was found.

Burial and personal details:

LAC. John William Thomas Nelson. Napier (Old) Cemetery, Napier. SW Block S, Grave 1088. Born on the 07th April 1921 at Napier. A clerk for the National Bank of New Zealand. Served 10 months in the territorial army. Enlisted at Levin on the 16th of August 1941. With No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School 27th September 1941. No. 2 Service Flying Training School 09th December 1941. Pilots badge awarded on the 05th January 1942.Son of Horatio (died 16th February 1925, age 36) and Isabella Marie Nelson (née Nelson - died 31st December 1975, age 88), of Napier, Hawke's Bay. New Zealand. Epitaph (on family grave): 'He died in the path of duty'/ A total of 74 flying hours logged with 54 solo on the Harvard.

Above: L-R: Back; J.P. Franklin, Edward Roy Markland NZ/414656 (killed 18th February 1943), Lindsay David Hutton NZ/41173 (killed 16th November 1943), Robert Henry Blyth NZ/414581 (died 14th November 1981), Fraser Dudley Clark NZ414590 (killed 22 August 1943), Eric Bayly Withell NZ414713 (killed 18th January 1943), Raymond Herbert John Broady NZ39691 (killed 28 November 1942).

Third row; Bernard Alexander Gumbley NZ/414614 (killed 21st March 1945), H.R. Harrop, Sydney Alcock NZ39979(killed 25th June 1942), D.B. Chamberlain, James Gilbert Duffill NZ414604 (killed 17th January 1943), Jack Trevor Villers NZ/412412 (killed 21st January 1942), Thomas Wyllie NZ414718 (killed 27th September 1944), George Ivan Ellis NZ414269 (killed 20 April 1943).

Second row; William Alexander Irwin NZ/414632(killed 24th June 1944), John William Thomas Nelson NZ/414663 (killed 23rd January 1942), T.W.O. Fox, Donald Hugh McKenzie NZ414650 (killed 21 January 1942), R.F Hancock, Michael Acton Sullivan NZ414697 (killed 20 December 1943), F. Simpson, Wilfred Edward Bolton Turner NZ/414360 (killed 15 December 1943).

Front; Edward Desmond Sale NZ414682 (killed 06th September 1942), William James John Warwick NZ/414706, J.M. Paynter, Arthur Frederick Tucker NZ414703 (died 17 April 2015), David Oliphant Stewart NZ/413901 (killed 20 August 1944), R.T. Johnston, L.H.F. Brown, J. Bains, Ian John Land NZ414306 (killed 07th December 1942).


F/O. Peter Shiers Rishworth. Bourail Memorial. Panel 4. Born on the 15th July 1915 at Masterton. A farmer on his father's farm at Bennett's Hill, Masterton. Crash-landed his aircraft after combat on the 22nd of October 1942, no injuries. Seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident on the 24th December 1962, returning in February 1943. Son of Horace Wilfred (died 24th September 1945, age 64) and Nora Catherine Rishworth (née Bennett - died 13th October 1979, age 89) of Masterton, Wellington, New Zealand

Above: L-R: Rear; Ronald William Bremner NZ/422361 ( Killed 05 February 1944), AR Walker, Barnabas Wilder Williams NZ/422739 (Died 31 May 1991), Harold Havelock Souter NZ/41551 /(Killed 13 February 1944), Clive Dudley Alfred Highet NZ/ 401273 (killed 27 January 1944), Clifford William Douglas Knight NZ/425910 (Killed 27 January 1944), Kenneth Tancred Palmer Chapman NZ/425689 (/Died 20 September 2012), Murray Adamson Nagel NZ/421163 (Killed 11 July 1944), JI Mackie, Anthony Francis Hough NZ/424080 (Died 21 April 2010).
Front; Peter Shiers Rishworth (NZ412740 (Killed 22 November 1943) , LA Rayner, Robert Hamish Balfour NZ/40958 (Died 28 June 1996), John Anderson Oldfield NZ/1316 (Died 20 March 1985), James Alfred McBride NZ/1879 (Died 2 March 1978), Raymond Jack Nelson Archibald NZ/416435 (Died 21 August 2010), John Desmond Bew NZ/402842 (Killed 21 November 1943), Bernard Lewis Hoskin NZ/40297 (Died 01st March 2006).

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, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 05-06-2022

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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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