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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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18th April 1945 3 Refresher Training Unit Spitfire VC JL317 W/O. Webster

Operation: Aerobatics

Date: 18th April 1945 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 3 Refresher Training Unit. 227 Group. British Air Forces, South-East Asia

Type: Spitfire VC

Serial: JL317

Code: -

Base: Poona (Pune), India

Location: Bakon, India

Pilot: W/O. Harold Wilson Webster NZ/428172 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 11:05 hrs to carry out aerobatics at 6000 ft and low flying. About 20 minutes later experienced a major oil leak and was seen to be attempting a forced landing in a field at Bakon some 9 miles east from the base.

5 minutes later immediately prior to touching down the port wheel retracted the Spitfire carried on for a further 20 yards before the port wing hit a low stone wall. JL317 then swung sideways into the next field with the wings breaking off and the pilot fatally injured.

It is thought that the pilot retracted the wheel at the last moment when he realised the other wheel had retracted and was in the locked position. The windscreen was covered in oil and obscured the pilots vision.

Burial details:

W/O. Harold Wilson Webster. Kirkee War Cemetery (India). Grave 13.A.2. Born on the 18th February 1922 at Dunedin. Served 4 months in territorial army. Worked as a clerk for Public Trust Office at Wanganui prior to service. Enlisted at New Plymouth on the 11th July 1942. Trained at No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School joining as a pilot U/T on the 06th February 1943. Further training at No. 2 Service Flying Training School joining on the 31st March 1943.

Pilots badge awarded on the 07th June 1943 and promoted to sergeant on the 31st July 1943. Embarked for England on the 21st August 1943. Attached to No. 7 Elementary Flying Training School in December then to No. 5 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit 14th March 194. Embarked for Egypt on the 15th July 1944. Attached to No. 73 Operational Training Unit on 26th August 1944.

Embarked for India in December 1944. Joined No. 3 Refresher Training Unit on the 25th February 1945. Son of Alexander and Ethel Vera Webster, of Wanganui, Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 380 flying hours logged with 51 on the Spitfire.

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, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 13-09-2021

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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', 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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