John Vincent HAWKINS

Serial Number: NZ416111
RNZAF Trade:Pilot
Date of Enlistment: 9th of November 1941
Rank Achieved: Flying Officer
Flying Hours: 424 hours
Operational Sorties: 7 Ops

Date of Birth: John was born on the 24th of March 1915, at Auckland
Personal Details: John was the son of . He was educated at Hamilton Technical College, where he was a member of the 1st XV rugby team, and also in the school tennis team. On leaving school he became a plumber and sheet metal worker, and he worked for Speight, Pearce, Nicol, Davies Ltd, a building supplies and construction company in Cambridge.

Service Details: John joined the RNZAF at the Intial Training Wing, RNZAF Levin, on the 9th of November 1941. Following intial training he was posted to No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Whenuapai on the 22nd of December 1941, and began his flying training on de Havilland DH82 Tiger Moths.

On the 7th of February 1942 John progressed to No. 3 Service Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Ohakea to fly Airspeed Oxfords. A month later he shifted to No. 1 Service Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Wigram to continue that training on the multi-engined Oxfords.

John was award his flying badge, or 'wings', on the 4th of April 1942, and on the 13th of June he was commissioned as an officer. Having completed his flying training John was posted to the Central Flying School, at RNZAF Station Tauranga.

John was attached to the Royal Air Force and he embarked for Great Britain on the 14th of August 1942. He arrived at No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth on the 9th of October 1942, and after two weeks of acclimatisation to the new environs there, he was posted on the 27th to No. 18 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit for a refresher course and to learn some new skills of flying in the UK. During this period he was attached to No. 1533 Beam Approach Training Flight on the 30th of November 1942 for approximately a week and then returned to No. 18 (P)AFU.

On the 19th of January 1943 John was posted to No. 11 Operational Training Unit where he converted to the Vickers Wellington bomber. Following three months of training there his next posting on the 22nd of April 1943 to No. 1657 Heavy Conversion Unit where he and his crew converted onto the Short Stirling four engined bomber. They completed one operational sortie whilst with the HCU.

John and his crew were then posted to No. 15 Squadron, still flying Short Stirlings from RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk. The crew carried out a further six operational raids on enemy territory from here, however on the last, John's seventh, they did not return.

They took off on the 22nd of June 1943 from Mildenhall at 23.30hrs in Stirling III (serial number BK656, codes LS-A) on a raid to Mulheim, Germany. Their aircraft was shot down by a night fighter, crashing in the Nationale Park de Hoge Veluwe in the Netherlands. All seven men aboard were killed, four of them being New Zealanders and members of the RNZAF. They were all buried together.

Date of Death : 23rd of June 1943, at Nationale Park de Hoge Veluwe, the Netherlands, aged 28
Buried: At Ede, the Netherlands, around 10 kilometres north west of the crash site

Connection with Cambridge: John worked in Cambridge for Speight, Pearce, Nicol, Davies Ltd, a building supplies and construction company

Thanks To: Errol Martyn for providing information on this airman, and further details from his books For Your Tomorrow Volumes 1 to 3

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