Monthly Archives: November 2016

Chapter 1 – The New Zealand Squadron, June-August 1939


Members of the New Zealand Squadron’s 1st Mobile Flight, August 1939. Note serial number marked under aircraft wing – NZ30*?
Copyright Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Thanks as always to Chris, for an excellent analysis of documents, gathered on his recent trip to Archives New Zealand. The outcome is a fascinating presentation of documents that tell the story of the planning, formation and administration of the proposed acquisition of 30 Wellington Bombers by the New Zealand Government. With the outbreak of War, these plans suddenly changed and the ‘New Zealand Flight’ would be offered to the British Government in support of the War effort.

Some confusion has surrounded the name of the unit, often referred to down the years as the New Zealand Flight.

The official parent unit was the New Zealand Squadron, and it was set up to oversee the formation and training of a series of ferry flights, originally referred to as Mobile Flights. With the intervention of war, only one of these was ever formed up, variously referred to as the “1st New Zealand Mobile Flight”, “No. 1 (N.Z.) Flight”, “1st Flight”, “1st Wellington Flight”, and more commonly as time went by, “the New Zealand Flight”.

The outbreak of war, and subsequent discussions on what to do with the unit may have changed the way officialdom viewed such a small, sub-operational entity. As New Zealand Liaison Officer to the Air Ministry S/L Sid Wallingford said in January 1940, “the New Zealand Squadron which existed at Marham prior to the outbreak of hostilities cannot be considered a squadron as defined in the R.A.F.” He goes on to say “the unit which is now termed the New Zealand Flight has continued to train with these aircraft at Harwell”. Perhaps it made more sense to refer to a Flight when distinguishing between the original unit and the anticipated expansion into an operational squadron, but whatever the reason, the term “Flight” is used frequently in high-level communications through this period, right up to the levels of the Air Ministry, the Chief of Air Staff, and NZ’s Prime Minister Peter Fraser.

Buckley himself used the term “Flight” in a letter written on 29 May 1940, to mark the establishment of “B” Flight, No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron. It was titled “Formation of No 75 (NZ) Squadron from the New Zealand Flight”:

“Today, 29 May 1940, the New Zealand Flight is officially changed from a Flight to a fully established Squadron and I wish to place on record the merits of the original NCO’s and airmen who formed the New Zealand Flight at Marham almost a year ago on 1st June 1939.”

However Buckley consistently signed himself off as “OC The New Zealand Squadron” right through to March 1940, so it seems clear that the name of the parent unit did not change.


Many different histories  already exist on this site and it is unfortunate that perhaps, they cannot for the sake of scale and readability, ever actually be bought together into a single record.

With the benefit of the material gathered so far, it is possible that we are beginning to now write the definitive history of the Squadron.

To this end, the history of the Squadron will be built around official RAF And RNZAF documents and focus on the operational aspects of an RAF front line bomber Squadron during the period of the Second World War.

Whilst the focus of the Squadron will be in its guise of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, the situations and necessities for this entity to exist need to be explained and thus, the history will start before its creation.

Given the focus of this site, the history will end with the disbandment of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF at RAF Spilsby on the 15th of October 1945.

Whilst continuing after the Second World War as an RNZAF Squadron, it’s history from this point on, is for others to write………

Read Chris’ excellent first chapter here.

Remembrance Sunday 2016


For the Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), published in The Times newspaper on 21st September 1914.

It is obviously, entirely correct at this time to remember all those that have perished in War, including the 1,139 individuals that were killed with 75(NZ) Squadron.

Aircraft Database update – Wellington & Stirling


Cockpit view of Mark 1 Vickers Wellington, serial number NZ300. Note data plate behind the right-hand control column: “Type 403, No. NZ300. Built at Weybridge Works. Date April 1939 England”
From “The Aeroplane” archives, via the Aeroplane Illustrated publication, “Vickers Wellington – The Backbone of Bomber Command”, Key Publishing, 2013.

A huge thanks to Chris for a significant update to the Wellington and Stirling sectons of the Squadron AIrcraft database. Beginning when he received a copy of the Feltwell Flying Control log from some some time ago, Chris began to pour through the pages looking for anything that would give aircraft designators or even identify new aircraft with the Squadron.

Relatively recently a visit to the Archives New Zealand allowed Chris to gather a significant amount of material relating to the early days of the ‘Squadron’ regarding its strength and crews.

Very interestingly, on review it seems Chris has formulated a sensible interpretation on the ongoing chestnut of what the ‘the group of Wellingtons‘ was called. There has been a long debate over the titling – some say New Zealand Squadron, others say New Zealand Flight.

Chris postulates as follows – and I tend to agree with him:
“You will find that at least half of the doc’s I’ve seen refer to the New Zealand Flight, including  letters and comm’s from the Air Ministry, and the NZ Governor General.
In one case, a letter from the CO RAF Marham 17 Sep 39, to Buckley (while Buckley is still stationed on the same base as him)  addresses Buckley as “OC RNZAF Squadron, Marham”, and references a letter from the Air Ministry which calls it the New Zealand Flight!
Also found references in the official docs to “the Wellington flights”, and “1 Mobile Flight”.
Am forming the opinion that while officially gazetted and titled as the ‘New Zealand Squadron’, because it was only ever flight strength, and intended to be a ferry flight, that the men themselves more commonly used the term ‘Flight’.
Once the establishment of a proper squadron in the RAF became likely, the term “Flight” may have become more common, at all levels, as it would have helped with the distinction, ie., avoiding having to say “the Squadron is now to be a Squadron …”.
So I think this vindicates the journalists, ‘official’ histories such as “Return At Dawn”  for using the term – it appears in so many of these documents.”

In discussion with Chris, particularly while I was completing the Squadron database and he was going through the Feltwell documents, we inevitably came to the conclusion that our efforts had perhaps created more questions and queries than actually been answered. I am sure that Chris would agree with me that the database whilst now significantly expanded and refined since the last update still requires work and input – so of course as always, if anybody has any thoughts, please make them – we would love to hear form you!

Go to the Wellington database here.
GO to the Stirling database here.