Tag Archives: Sid Wallingford

80 years ago today – the story begins……

New Wellingtons near completion at the Vickers Weybridge factory, NZ 302 second-closest to the camera.
”Flight”, July 6 1939 issue.

Many thanks to Chris for the following post that commemorates the 80th anniversary, of what is essentially the start of the 75(NZ) Squadron story……..

80 years ago (today), on the 4th of May 1939, New Zealand government representatives in England took ceremonial delivery of the first of thirty Wellington bombers ordered from Vickers-Armstrongs Limited and being built at their Weybridge factory. The government had made the purchase to establish a long range bomber capability – maritime reconnaissance & defence, potential air co-operation with Australia, and the ability to assist in the defence of Singapore.

Mark 1 Vickers Wellington Type 403 serial number NZ 300 was the first of these to come off the production line, and a photo of her dual-control cockpit has survived, probably taken at the time of the official hand-over.

Cockpit of Mark 1 Vickers Wellington, serial number NZ 300, the first Wellington built for the RNZAF.
From “The Aeroplane” archives, via the Aeroplane Illustrated publication, “Vickers Wellington – The Backbone of Bomber Command”, Key Publishing, 2013.

Detail: data plate of NZ 300, behind the right-hand (dual) control column: “Type 403, No. NZ 300. 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.

RNZAF personnel were assembling at RAF Marham under the command of S/L Maurice William Buckley, MBE, RNZAF to train for the unprecedented long-distance ferry flights back to New Zealand, supplemented by a small group of RAF technicians with experience in servicing Wellingtons. Marham was home to two Wellington squadrons, 38 and 115 Sqdns, allowing sharing of facilities.

Squadron Leader Maurice William Buckley, MBE, RNZAF
From “Return At Dawn”, by Hilary Saunders.

The first NZ Wellington arrived at Marham on the 24th of May, flown in from Weybridge by S/L Buckley, P/O Arthur Rose-Price (a pilot on loan from 38 Squadron) and S/L Sid Wallingford (NZ Liaison Officer, and nominated to lead one of the ferry flights).

Curiously, the first Wellington received was NZ 301, and for some unknown reason, NZ 300 was never delivered to the squadron. A second Wellington, NZ 302, was flown in the following day.

“New Zealand’s Modern Bombers Undergo Trials”. New Zealand Squadron Wellington taking off at Marham
Otago Daily Times, 12 June 1939.

The New Zealand Squadron, the entity which would train the groups of pilots, airmen and technicians selected to fly the bombers back to New Zealand, was officially formed on the 1st of June. Three more Wellingtons arrived that month. S/L Buckley was nominated to lead the “1st New Zealand Mobile Flight”, the first of five planned ferry flights of six aircraft each and due to leave on 1 October.

Only one Flight was ever formed. With the outbreak of war, the New Zealand Government decided that the men and five aircraft of the New Zealand Squadron would be “placed at the disposal” of the RAF, and eventually agreed that they would form the basis of a new squadron in the RAF.

Eleven months later, on the 4th of April 1940, 75 (Bomber) Squadron ceased to exist and it’s number plate was taken over by the New Zealand Squadron, to form 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF.

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.