Serial Number: NZ412252
RNZAF Trade: Pilot
Date of Enlistment: December 1940
Rank Achieved: Flying Officer
Flying Hours: 478 hours
Operational Sorties: 20 Ops
Date of Birth: 3rd of July 1918, at Cambridge
Personal Details: Jim was the son of Mr Charles Meredith and Mrs Annie May Sarah Meredith (nee Taylor) of 50 Victoria Street, Cambridge. He was the brother of Joan Meredith, who also went overseas as a nurse.
Jim was the husband of Ailsa Wallace Meredith, of Wellsford, Auckland, New Zealand. He went to Cambridge District High School. Cambridge airman Gordon Easter remembers Jimmy well. He says:
"Jimmy Meredith, he's another one I went to school with. Yeah, he was a very good friend of mine. Chas Meredith was the headmaster of the High School, Intermediate, and he was a great huntsman. The sister of Jimmy Meredith was Joan. Joan had quite a history too. She was a great one."
Records show he also attended Te Awamutu District High School, where he apparently passed his matriculation examination. At school Jim played rugby in the First XV, and later played senior rugby. He also liked cricket, golf and hunting.
He later studied commercial subjects with a correspondence school, passing in three subjects for the Banking Diploma.
He began working at the Bank of New Zealand Cambridge branch on the 1st of February 1935. In October 1939 he transferred to the BNZ branch at Wellsford. He applied to join the RNZAF in May 1940.
Service Details: Jim enlisted at the Ground Training School, Levin on the 13th of April 1941, and he was posted on the 24th of May to No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School, at RNZAF Station Bell Block, New Plymouth. There he learned to fly in Tiger Moth trainers, before proceeding to the next stage at No. 2 Service Flying Training School on the 6th of July 1941.
Just a month later, on the 16th of August 1941, he was awarded his flying badge, and on the 27th of September 1941 he was promoted to Pilot Officer. Following the completion of training at Woodbourne, he returned to Cambridge for Final Leave.
The following excerpt comes from The New Zealand Observer magazine, which was a social magazine of the day, dated the 15th of October 1941. This snippet of news, written by a Cambridge-based columnist identified only as SALLY who wrote the column with seemingly only female readers in mind, came under the section "Waikato Doings" and the subheading "Cambridge Sidelights";
"AIRMEN ENTERTAINED: The Patriotic Committee staged a morning tea recently in honour of Pilot Officer Jim Meredith, and Aircraftsmen Peter Hanna and Gordon Easter. Some of the people who came along to say 'happy landings' and wish them the best of luck were Mrs Edgar James (Mayoress), Mrs Arthur Nicholl, Mrs R.S. Hanna, Mrs Charlie Meredith, Mrs M.A. Bell, Mrs A.R. Bachelor, Mrs E. J. Easter, Mrs W. Garland and Ethyl Swayne."
It should be pointed out that the Mayor himself and many other husbands of the ladies mentioned were also present - however the female correspondent usually only ever reported on what the ladies were doing, and what they wore! Those were the days.
Jim embarked on the SS Mariposa with his mates Gordon and Peter, headed for Canada, on the 20th of October 1942. Unlike Gordon and Peter, Jim was just passing through the great continent, on his way to England. he arrived at No. 3 Personnel Reception Area in Bournemouth on the 22nd of November 1941.
On the 8th of December, following a short recuperation after the long trip, Jim embarked on a course with No. 1 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit at Cranwell in Lincolnshire. Straight after completing this course, he was posted on the 5th of January 1942 to No. 1514 Beam Approach Training Flight at Coningsby, also in Lincolnshire. This was an instrument flying course using the beam navigation system.
Jim was posted on the 10th of January to No. 10 Operational Training Unit at Abingdon in Berkshire, where he crewed up and completed his training on Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bombers. On the 27th of March 1942 Jim rose again in rank to Flying Officer.
On the 9th of May 1942 Jim proceeded to No. 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit at Waterbeach, in Cambridgeshire, where he converted to the four-engined Short Stirling bombers.
Finally the training was complete and on the 22nd of June 1942 Jim was posted to No. 15 Squadron at Wyton in Huntingdonshire where he commenced operational flying. With the squadron he flew Stirlings on twenty raids, with targets including Bremen (four times); Wilhelmshaven; Vegesack (twice); Duisberg (three times); Hamburg; Osnabruck (twice); Dusseldorf and Essen (all in Germany); and St Nazaire in France plus three mine laying missions over enemy waters. he was killed on the 20th op, which was to Lübeck.
Details of Death: On the night of Thursday the 1st of October 1942, Jim took off at 19:15hrs in a Short Stirling I (coded W7634/G) to raid Lübeck, Germany. Their aircraft was brought down off the coast of Denmark or Germany, killing the seven crew. Jimmy was aged 24
Commemorated at: The Runnymede Memorial, Panel 114
Connection with Cambridge: Jimmy Meredith was born in and lived in Cambridge before the war with his family.
News Reports in the Waikato Independent
Farewelled with wallet 8 Oct 1941
Above: Jim Meredith in 1934, from his team photo for the 1934 Cambridge United Rugby Club Third Grade
Note: Details of this airman's death were sourced from the excellent volumes of 'For Your Tomorrow' by Errol Martyn.