13.08.1942 No. 126 Squadron Spitfire Vb EP472 Fl/Sgt. Tanner
Operation: Operation Pedestal (1)
Date: 13th August 1942 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 126 Squadron (motto: 'Foremost in attack)
Type: Spitfire Vb
Base: RAF Luqa, Malta
Location: Mediterranean Sea
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. John Harold Tanner NZ/41960 RNZAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed (note)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Luqa at 09:30 hrs. with two others from the squadron (one returned with an engine problem) in order to protect the convoy. They engaged the enemy and sadly Fl/Sgt. Tanner was shot down, going into the Mediterranean Sea - his body has never been knowingly recovered.
(1) Operation Pedestal known in Malta as the Santa Marija Convoy was a British operation to carry supplies to the island of Malta in August 1942, during the Second World War. Malta was a base from which British ships, submarines and aircraft attacked Axis convoys to the Axis forces in Libya and Egypt, during the North African Campaign. From 1940 to 1942, the Axis conducted the Siege of Malta, with air and naval forces. Despite many losses, enough supplies were delivered by the British for the population and military forces on Malta to resist, although it ceased to be an offensive base for much of 1942.
The most crucial supply item in Operation Pedestal was fuel, carried by SS Ohio, an American tanker with a British crew. The convoy sailed from Britain on 3 August 1942 and passed through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean on the night of 9/10 August. It was attacked at hit by the Italian Submarine, Axum, but with the assistance of the RN and the RAF managed to get to Malta to enable the valuable cargo of 10,000 tons of fuel oil. The story of this ship is worthy of further reading. (courtesy Wikipedia)
Fl/Sgt. John Harold Tanner. Malta Memorial. Panel 5. Column 2. Born on the 21st June 1920 at Wellington, the son of George Harold and Maria Tanner (née Phillips), of Hataitai, Wellington, New Zealand. Prior to service worked a a clerk for the Government Tourist Office. A total of 273 flying hours logged and having completed 32 operational sorties.
Note: His brother 23 year old, Thomas Steel Tanner NZ/41503 RNZAF also lost his life in service. On Monday the 26th January 1942 with 36 Squadron, 2 Group flying as pilot of Vildebeest III K6392, shot down and crashed into a swamp south east of Endau. All three crew members lost - remains recovered after the war and buried as described. Born on the 11th August 1918 in Wellington. Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore. Collective grave 30D.13-15.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: