Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz Spilman

The Spilman crew, with ground crew. Sidney; “Buzz” Spilman centre front. – Photo courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of ”Buzz” Spilman.

It is with great sadness I must report the passing of another member of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

SIdney Lewis ‘Buzz Spilman, passed on Friday, September the 18th at The Wood Retirement Village, Nelson, aged 98.

Buzz’s flying career started when he was a student at Nelson College from 1936-38. When war broke out in 1939, his career as a pilot began with ground training in Levin, flight training in a Tiger Moth at Harewood and graduation to a Harvard at Woodbourne.

He finished his training and left New Zealand for England in November 1941 as a Sergeant Pilot, arriving in the United Kingdom on Christmas Eve 1941. A spell of instruction was followed by a move to the ‘Heavies’ of Bomber Command and Buzz and his crew arrived for operational duties with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, at Mepal on the 2nd of January 1945.

Buzz undertook a full tour of 30 Ops with his crew (including 1 DNC), before posting out from the Squadron on the 13th of August 1945.

At the end of the war Buzz, who was by then a flight lieutenant, moved on to transport command in India, before returning home.

He met his future wife, Dinah, in Wellington in 1946, and embarked on a more sedate aviation career. He worked at Air New Zealand predecessor Teal Airways in administration for seven years before heading back to flying as an aerial topdressing pilot.

He and Mrs Spilman retired to Nelson in 1980.

I am sure all our readers join me in wishing the warmest of sympathies to the family at this sad time.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

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