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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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08th May 1942 154 Squadron Spitfire Vb BL438 Sgt. Oliver

Operation: Patrol

Date: 08th May 1942 (Friday)

Unit: No. 154 Squadron (motto: His modis ad victoriam - 'By this means to Victory'). 10 Group

Type: Spitfire Vb

Serial: BL438

Code: HT-?

Base: RAF Church Stanton, Devonshire

Location: Heathercomb, Dartmoor

Pilot: Sgt. John Oliver NZ/405314 RNZAF Age 27. Seriously injured


Taking off at 19:02 hrs on a patrol to protect a 'special' train travelling travelling from Ashburton to Dartmoor.

The patrol was with 3 others, for unknown reasons Sgt. Oliver crashed near Heathercombe on Dartmoor. Although the pilot survived the crash he succumbed to his injuries later that day at the military hospital at Moretonhampstead.

The 'special' train was carrying King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Exeter.

Burial and personal details:

Sgt. John Oliver. Exeter Higher Cemetery. Sec.Z.K. Grave 87. Born on the 08th October 1914 at Blenheim. Attended Marlborough College in Blenheim. A carpenter for Fletcher and Love Construction in Wellington. Served in territorial army from 1938 before enlisting at Levin on the 22nd December 1940. Trained at No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School joining on the 08th February 1941. Embarked for Canada on the 29th April 1941. Trained with 32 Service Flying Training School joining on the 27th May. Pilots badge awarded on the 08th August 1941 and promoted to sergeant. Embarked for England on the 20th August 1941. Attended No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre on the 15th September 1941. Attached to 61 Operational Training Unit joining them on the 30th September 1941 (Spitfire). Joined 154 squadron on the 20th November 1941. Son of James Edward (died November 1962, age 84) and Nellie Oliver (nee Fear - died July 1956, age 69), Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand. Total of 315 flying hours logged and on his 8th operational sortie.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and 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 18-08-2021

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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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