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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 NZ962 Sgt. Graham Ballantine Steele

Operation: Training

Date: 24th October 1942 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 2 Service Flying Training School (ATS)

Type: Harvard II

Serial: NZ962

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Woodbourne

Location: Near Ward

Pilot (Inst): Sgt. Graham Ballantine Steele NZ/41956 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

Pilot: LAC. Charles Arthur Rickey NZ/42458 RNZAF Age 23. Killed


During instrument flying practice with newly qualified LAC Rickey was seen at 11:00 hrs to crash inverted into a hill near Ward about 6 miles south of Lake Grassmere.

Evening Star 26th October 1942:

'A plane which was due to return to an Air Force station in the South Island at 11:00 hrs yesterday failed to return. In the afternoon a report from a resident of the district stated that he had heard an aircraft labouring overhead, and then an explosion. An immediate search was instituted, and later the aircraft was found. The two occupants wore dead'.

We have heard that a plaque has been erected at the crash site but we don't have any further information.

Burial and other personal details:

Sgt. Graham Ballantine Steele. Matamata Public Cemetery. Grave 1.10. Born on the 24th of May 1921 in Auckland. Educated at Matamata DHS, Auckland University, Auckland Technical College. A student teacher for the Auckland Education Board. Enlisted at Levin as a pilot under training on the 09th February 1941. With No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School in March 1941. With No. 3 Flying Training School on the 03rd May 1941.

The pilot badge was awarded on the 14th of June 1941 and promoted to sergeant on the 26th of July 1941. Embarked for Singapore on the 15th of September 1941 arrived and joined 27 squadron flying the Blenheim on the 05th October 1941. Evacuated from Singapore in February 1942 and returned to New Zealand. Joined No. 2 Service Flying Training School as a staff pilot on the 23rd of July 1942.

Son of James Ballantine Steele (died 08th May 1987) and Mary Graham Steele (née Harre - died 01st June 1985), of Walton, Waikato, New Zealand.

LAC. Charles Arthur Rickey. Waipukurau Cemetery. Grave 4.2. Born on the 27th of May 1919 in Waipukurau. Educated at Wanganui Collegiate. A sheep farmer on his father's farm in Mt. Herbert. Enlisted at Levin as a pilot under training on the 10th January 1942. With No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School on the 23rd May 1942.1st solo on the 18th May 1942. With No, 2 Service Flying Training School on the 25th July 1942, Flying the Harvard.

The pilot badge was awarded on the 19th of October 1942 and 172 flying hours were logged.

Son of David Henry (died 24th May 1943, age 64) and Fredrica Frances Phoebe Rickey (née Wagner - died 19th February 1972, age 93), of Waipukurau, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.

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

KTY 11-08-2022

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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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