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

newzealandsquadron-1stmobileflightaug1939

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.

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