Service Personnel
Squadron Leader

F.J. (Jim) Steel DFC. MID. MCIT. RNZAF 391370 & 132238

Signed up with the RNZAF 20th. Nov. 1939.
Discharged 19th. May 1948. Airforce Reserve to 7th. July 1973.

Jim began his training at Levin during November 1939,
continued at Bell Block, (New Plymouth), Woodbourne, (Sth. Island).

He won his wings on the 28th. May 1940
Two months' later, he was on the way to the UK, aboard the SS Akaroa.

He joined No.40 Squadron RAF, and made his first "tour"
in a Vickers-Armstrong Wellington (MK) C1,
with a daylight pamphlet drop on Paris.

One of Jim's training aircraft - a Vickers Vincent.
Vickers-Armstrong Wellington (MK) C1
After night-flying training from February 1941, Jim's "tours" continued with night bombing raids
on Boulogne, Hanover, Berlin, Brest Harbour, Cologne, Bremen and the U-boat manufacturing yards.
These were just some of the targets selected for 40 Squadron in 1941.
His first ex-UK stint tallied up to 414 hours.
No.40 Squadron was originally a Royal Flying Corps squadron, serving on the Western Front 1916-18
Accredited with many successful operations, it disbanded in 1919 and reformed in 1931.
It continued with various operations and a variety of aircraft until Feb.1st.1957.
Operating MK B2 Canberras when it was disbanded.
The squadron moved to Malta (Oct.1941), then on to Egypt, to Calcutta, then back to Egypt.
July 12th. 1942: After a forced-landing in a Wellington, behind enemy lines in the
Qattara Depression, (south of El Alamein), Jim became a member of the
"late-arrivals club" after walking out from the crash site to safety.
He returned to New Zealand in March 1943,
joined 40 Squadron - RNZAF (Dakota),
where he went on to serve as Flight Commander and OC,
Utility Flight, Guadalcanal, which became the
forward area transport flight.

A 40 Squadron transport flight. Dakota.
Back in civilian life, Jim retired, after service
with the Ministry of Transport Civil Aviation Division.

Photo Right: Jim, as Deputy Director. MOT Aviation Division.

Squadron Leader Freeman Jesse Steel passed away 12th.July 2004, and joined up again with some of his crews.
His two surviving brothers, Sinclair and Ron, became active members of the HB Aviation Heritage Society.