We originally set out to cover the Hawkes Bay region only,
(i.e. profiles of air force personnel who have either originated from or have settled in HB).
We are beginning to receive info and photos of ex-air force personnel
from out of the region. Some of these contributions are difficult to reject.
Here, then, we present a section dedicated to aviation comrades from afar.
One of our first contributions is from an Invercargill family of a young lad who signed up with the RNZAF
at the age of 18 years. He and his crew lost their lives, along with thousands of others, on D-Day - 6th. June 1944.
He was only 21.
It is up to all of us, living in these days of freedom, that his sacrifice was not in vain. Lest we forget.
Pilot Officer James Chute Chalmers
From Invercargill. Born October 8th. 1922.
Secondary Education: Southland Technical College. Interests: Football & Tennis.
A clerk at Kilkelly Bros. Ltd prior to enlistment.

James applied for aircrew training at the age of 18, enlisting as an air observer.
After "basic" at Levin, went on to Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme,
and was posted to the No.6 Air Observers School.
Through Bombing & Gunnery school to No.1 Navigation School sept.1941.

From Canada to Bournemouth, UK, to Advanced Navigation School,
training on Avro Ansons at Babbington Airforce Station.

From Babbington to No.1651 Conversion Unit on Stirlings,
finally transferring to 214 Squadron as navigator.

He went on mine-laying ops around the French coast and U-boat bases, and had to bail out of his aircraft
when it developed 'problems'. A night raid planned on Munich turned into disaster,
when the Stirling crashed on takeoff, injuring and burning the crew.
After he was discharged from hospital, James took part in 25 operations with No.88 Squadron,
including attacks on the flying-bomb sites and rail marshalling yards in France, flying navigator on Bostons.
Early-morning. 6th.June 1944. D-Day landings.
Engaged in smoke-laying ops over the English Channel as navigator with No.88 Squadron.
His aircraft was one of the first to take part in the opening of the "second front".
It never returned to base. All crew were reported missing.
Presumed to have lost their lives. This was James' 29th. operational flight,
completing 441 hours as a navigator. We have more details of his service - available upon request.
After 60th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings it should be recognised that many airmen
also contributed to this gigantic effort in a wide variety of ways, and some too were casualties on June 6th 1944.
88 Squadron’s Operations Record Book: Hartford Bridge. June 6th 1944. “D” Day. Squadron was called at 0130hrs and Navigators briefing was at 0200hrs. Main briefing 0230hrs.
88 Squadron were to screen the landing craft from Le Harve Coastal batteries and 342 Sqdrn to screen
landing-craft from east side of Cherbourg Peninsular. 88 Squadron were away first.
First detail was W/Cdr Maher who carried W/Cdr Reynolds from Group as passenger in Gunners Cockpit.
Smoke was laid OK but drifted away quickly owing to strong wind on surface. First detail on target at 0500hrs.
A/C followed at 10 minute intervals. Light flack was experienced from Le Harve and French Coast up to Etretat
and from some enemy surface vessels proceeding into Le Harve.
W/O Boyle and crew failed to return from sortie – no news available. 19 crews were on this 1st detail.
Aircraft were re bombed with Smoke and 14 crews stood by, but no further call was made.
Boston IIIA Coded ‘N’ S/n BZ243 W/O Boyle A J; P/O Chalmers J C. 24 year old W/O Alan John Boyle
(promoted to Pilot Officer after death) was the son of John Lewis & Florence Isabel Boyle of Jersey.
His name appears on the Runnymede Memorial, panel 1210, as does his Navigators, 21 year old New Zealander
James Chute Chalmers (panel 263). Just two of many.
Mrs. Lorna Russell from Auckland has provided 2 photos of crew from
RNZAF 75 Squadron Stirling EJ-108 Bomber Command.
They include her Uncle - Flt/Sgt Walter (Wally) Hurdle from Feilding...
tail gunner and one of the original crew.
We've added some others, that turned up 'from here and there'.
On a night mine-laying mission around the coast of Denmark and Sweden, they discovered the target area covered by cloud.

The Stirlings turned around for home. Some never made it.
A german night-fighter zeroed-in on Walter's aircraft
and fired a burst into the rear turret.
After some desperate maneuvers, the pilot managed to shake off the
German fighter, jettison the mines, then head for home.
Walter Hurdle was the only one killed in EJ-108 that night.
The crew were devastated, losing not only a
crew member, but a friend also.
Glen Marshall, the radio operator,
(ex fireman from Wairoa, Hawkes Bay),
was particularly saddened.
They had been good friends for some time.
Glen made it home to NZ
and was 89 years old when he passed away.

Wally Hurdle was aged 28 when he died.

The crew were back in the air the following night with a replacement Striling in order to complete the mission.
Such was war in those times - no time to mourn, but just carry on.
PICTURE OF THE CREW TAKEN AFTER WALLY'S PASSING
LEFT TO RIGHT: F/E (UK) A/G (NZ) Nav. (NZ) Pilot (NZ) B/M (UK) A/G (Canada) W/Op (NZ)
  Reg Gunn Joe Collins Ted Anderson Eric Witting Sgt. Thomas Jerry Campbell Glen Marshall
Mrs. Russell has kept in touch with members of 75 Squadron,
passing on NZ 75 Sqdrn letters to the UK members.
The crew's navigator told Lorna;
"the crew worked very well together and were well-organised."
"Night After Night" - a book by Max Lambert - provides a rich account of the ordeals such air crews had to face.
ARTHUR JAY. RAF 4048933 Bandsman No 265 Squadron
It appears he was also serving in the Fire section when not on Band duties.

Arthur was our special Salvation Army Officer who, every Friday
afternoon, would move around everyone at the Taradale RSA with his ‘Army’s’
publication ‘War Cry’. He had a friendly word for all and will be sadly missed.

Arthur passed away Wednesday the 26th of June 2008.

Not generally known, he was a bandsman with the RAF for a number of years,
and served with RAF No 205 group Band from their UK base at
West Kirby in Cheshire.

A Salvation Army band section was integrated with 265 Squadron’s regular
band, and played for No’s 50 51 52 53 and 54 Squadrons on occasions.

He was stationed with No 265 Sq’n in the Middle East ( Suez ) at Elham Ra Station RAF Abkaerot – this would have been at the time the UK was occupying the Suez zone after the Suez Canal crises with Egypt.
Below are some of his photos.
R.A.F. Hudson Transport Arthur on Fire duty R.A.F. N.F Meteor 265 Squadron

Some of the lads off duty W/O Borley Band Master in charge R.A.F No 205 Group Band 'on parade'

R.A.F. No 205 Group Band
Summer Uniform
Egyptian 'town' close to
Elham Ra R.A.F. base
'Sally' Boys - On Parade
Salvation Army Section of 205 Group
 
   
NAVIGATION