Daily Archives: March 5, 2013

Colin Archibald Gunn McKenzie – Pilot

McKenzie Sidecap cleaned comped and cropped

The sidecap of Colin McKenzie – Pilot
© Paul Denton

Born 28 February 191,4 he grew up on the family farm at Waikoikoi. He was employed as student and farmer by W T McKenzie & Sons Ltd. Colin was educated at Waikoikoi primary,then at Gore High Sch. He served 3 yrs school cadets. Enlisted at Levin as Airman Pilot under training 21 December 1941. Colin did his elementary Flying training with No1 EFTS ( Elementary Flying Training School) at Taieri then to SFTS (Service Flying Training School)at Wigram, graduating with course 28A on 17/10/1942  as Sgt Pilot. Additional courses: Staff Pilot course, 3 FTS, 26/7 – 23/8/44 , 31 Base FTS course 9/9? – 20/10/44 , Merlin course (Pilot’) No. 1 AGCAU 27/11 – 2/12/44; No. 7 Bomber Command Instructors’ Course, Finningley, 31/3/45 (actual course 1/4 – 12/5/45).

He then embarked on the “Amerika”  (Wellington-Liverpool, via Panama Canal)  for the UK and attached to the RAF on 2 December 1942. He was then sent to No 12 PD&RC 3/2, to 15 (P) AFU 26/4, 11 OTU (no date), 1651 CU 4/9/43. Flt Sgt McKenzie was appointed a temporary Commission as a Pilot Officer on 28 December 1943. Promoted to F/O w.e.f. 28/6/44.

NZ417078 Pilot 75 Sqn 15 October 1943 to 1 July 1944.
Posted in ex 1651 CU; crew members were:-
Navigator Sgt Drummond Blair Livingstone;
Air Bomber P/O Ronald Gordon Freeman;
Wireless Operator Sgt P Skingley;
Flight Engineer Sgt R Conner;
Mid Upper Gunner F/O Ethelbert Henry Maurice Eaves;
Rear Gunner P/O Howard Douglas Stewart Bridge.

Crew on ops 22/10 – 19/11, 29/12/43; 3, 19/2, 2 – 22/3, 24/4 – 12-13/6/44.

Considerable crew changes included A/B F/Sgt (P/O) Gilbert Gillies Ward and W/Op Sgt Ralph Herbert Barker by 12/43, then W/O Jack Jones (W/Op) by 3/44. Air gunner Sgt G Tedman replaced Eaves as Mid-upper gunner by 3/44.

Then posted to 1653 CU, to 12 PD&RC (no date), disemb NZ 23/10/45 (2 PDT) (ceased attachment to RAF w.e.f. 28/10), to S/NEP (Senior Non Effective Pool) [Cat 17] 24/10, Transferred to the reserve of Officers 8 January 1946 [Gaz 7/46, RO.29/46], commission terminated 1/6/56.

From Norman Franks book “Forever Strong” a History of 75 (NZ) SQN.
Flying Officer Colin McKenzie of Gore;     (This is in his own words.)
“For a few days there was a feeling that a landing in France was imminent, on the 5th of June some unusual events were happening, we were called for a flying meal at 2300Hrs followed by briefing at 2345. Take off was 0330Hrs, We bombed on the French coast just on daybreak and were back at base by 0715Hrs. ———Raid by 26 A/C on the Quistreham Batteries ( Most Lancs on an OP)

On D-Day morning, cloud covered the  sea so that we did not see any of the invasion craft. We had our interrogation and a meal and went to bed. We had no knowledge of events until the news at 1300Hrs. We had another flying meal at 2100Hrs and took off at 0030Hrs to bomb Lisieux ahead of the invasion troops.

On the morning of the 7th June we crossed the sea, there was much flak, as it seems that our Navy types were firing at all and sundry. Crossing the coast to Lisieux, our rear gunner called out the flak was close but I calmed him down by assuring him that all was ok and the crisis past. However when we got home we found that our W/T aerial had been cut away about a foot away from Don in the rear turret, so he was right! The flak had been close!”

Flying Officer M. Eaves, one of Colin’s gunners made a claim for a damaged JU88 on the 11th of November 1943 they were flying EF514 on a Mining trip. Only 2 A/C from 75SQn flew on this mission to Gironde Estuary. (Deodar Area) Airborne 17.12hrs Landed 00.42hrs

Medal entitlement: 1939/45 Star, Aircrew Europe Star & Clasp (France & Germany), Defence Medal, WM 1939/45, NZWSM.

Colin McKenzie married Margaret Dorothy Weir , born 4/6/1916, on the 8th of August 1945. Colin was a deeply religious man and was ordained at Center Bush as a Presbyterian Minister on the 20th of January 1949 after attending the Theological Hall between 1946-1948. He and Margaret were based at Mayfield AsP 7/2/1954. Resigned 11/10/1955 due to ill health and resumed farming at Knapdale in 1957.

PPSA field Officer ( along with Margaret)1978 retired 3/2/1981.

“His dual role as Farmer and Minister enabled him to relate to a wide cross-section of  people. He continued as a Bible class leader and spent nearly 50 years within the Bible class Movement. Colins deep love for his Lord, his faithfulness to the scriptures, his prayerfulness and his extraordinary interest in people sustained in his Ministry. He led Worship, especially in vacant parishes, prepared people for Baptism and Confirmation, and Married people. He enjoyed being involved with people.

After moving to Gore in the early seventies, Colin continued to Minister, serving as an Elder within the Calvin Parish, exercising a Pastoral Ministry through visiting, writing and telephoning, contribution to Worship, and encouraging. He worked hard to see the gospel touch the community” ( from Obituary)

Colin Archibald Gunn McKenzie passed on, 1994

A little extra on the crew of LL888 AA-X

Roland Betley and Peter Cook

Left: Roland Desmond Ernest Betley, Pilot. Right: Peter Jackson Cook , Rear Gunner.
Both lost with the rest of the crew 16th June 1944. © Auckland War Memorial Museum

Many thanks for all the people that have gotten back to me with suggestions as to where I might find a picture of LL888 – unfortunately so far no luck. However many thanks to Mike from Bombercrew.com for passing on 2 links to the Auckland War Memorial Museum for Roland Betely, the Pilot and Peter Cook, the Rear Gunner;