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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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126 Squadron Crest
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

Serial: EP472

Code: MK-?

Base: RAF Luqa, Malta

Location: Mediterranean Sea

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. John Harold Tanner NZ/41960 RNZAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed (note)


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)

Burial details:

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:

KTY 05.08.2019

Acknowledgements: 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', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', 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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