Keith Burnett FITTON DFC
Serial Number: NZ4210038
RNZAF Trade: Pilot
RAF Trade: Pilot
Date of Enlistment: 16th of August 1942
Date of Demob: 26th of February 1946
Subsequent Service: Royal Air Force from 28th of November 1949 till 24th of February 1982
Rank Achieved: Flying Officer in RNZAF, Flight Lieutenant in RAF
Flying Hours: 7300 hours
Operational Sorties: 30 at least

Date of Birth: 24th of February 1924, at Te Kuiti
Personal Details: Keith had a daughter, Susan Fitton

Service Details: Keith joined the RNZAF in August 1942, and following initial training he learned to fly in the de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moths at No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School, RNZAF Station Ashburton.

From there he embarked for Canada and continued training in the multi-engine stream, at No. 3 Service Flying Training School, Calgary. He was flying the Cessna Crane and the Avro Anson here.

From Canada he proceeded to Britain, and underwent a refreshed on Tiger Moths at No. 24 Elementary Flying Training School, RAF Sealand in North Wales. Next he was posted to No. 14 Aircraft Finishing Unit at RAF Dallcahy, in Moray, Scotland, this time flying Airspeed Oxfords.

Keith was then posted onto proper bombers, piloting Vickers Wellingtons at No. 12 Operational Training Unit at Chipping Warden. This was followed up by a time at No. 1653 Heavy Conversion Unit at Chedburgh, where he converted onto the massive Short Stirling four-engined bombers.And then Keith's final phase of training was served at No. 3 Lancaster Finishing School at RAF Feltwell, Norfolk, where he and his crew converted onto the mighty Avro Lancaster bomber.

Fully trained now as a pilot with a crew ready for action, Keith was posted to No. 195 Squadron, RAF, which was based at Wratting Common. He flew a tour of 30 operational missions with No. 195 Squadron on Lancasters, before transferring over to Transport Command.

On transports he flew with No. 10 Squadron RAF, based at Melbourne in Yorkshire, flying Douglas Dakotas. He was then posted onto No. 158 Squadron at RAF Stradishall flying the Short Stirling V's which were bombers converted to transport duties.

Keith Fitton received a Distinguished Flying Cross for his wartime service, the citation for which read:

"Flying Officer Fitton, as pilot, has completed numerous operations against the enemy, in the course of which he has invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty."

He returned to New Zealand in December 1945, arriving onboard the troopship Mooltan on the 21st of December at Wellington.

Following his release from the RNZAF in February 1946, and now back in New Zealand, Keith continued to fly in a civilian capacity as a captain with National Airways Corporation, the main trunk airline of new Zealand at the time. He flew the de Havilland DH89 Dominie, the Lockheed Electra and the Lockheed Lodestar.

However he decided to rejoin the Air Force in 1949 and on the 28th of November that year became a member of the Royal Air Force. In this service he went onto fly jet fighters, including the Gloster Meteor, de Havilland Vampire and North American F-86 Sabre. He also flew the Canberra twin-engined jet bomber, and then went onto fly helicopters in various roles.

During his time with No. 59 Squadron at Geilenkirchen during 1958-1959, Keith was a member of the Canberra B (I) 8 formation drill team known as The Silver Formation. The teamed "showed the flag" for Britain doing displays at various Open Days in Holland, Denmark, Norway and several 2TAF bases in Germany.

A round out of Keith's postwar Royal Air Force Career is thus:

Posting RAF Station Aircraft Dates

No. 204 AFS


No. 2 FTS

No. 3 FTS

No. 202 AFS

No. 229 OCU

No. 234 Sqn

No. 3 (F) Sqn

No. 4 FTS

No. 231 OCU

No. 59 Sqn

No. 59 Sqn

No. 231 OCU

No. 51 Sqn


No. 1563 Flt

No. 1563 Flt

No. 202 'C' Flt



Brize Norton


South Cerney




Gutersloh, Geilenkirchen






Bassingbourne - Wg Adj



Akrotiri, Cyprus

El Adem





Anson PNI

Harvard PNI

Harvard PNI, Prentice

Meteor & Vampire V

Vampire V

Vampire V & Sabre

Sabre (Flt Cdr)



Canberra B8

Canberra B8

Canberra, Chipmunk Fl


Sioux & Whirlwind

Whirlwind (SAR)

Whirlwind (SAR)

























AFS = Advanced Flying School

EANS - Empire Air Navigation School

Flt = Flight (a unit smaller than a Squadron)

FTS = Flying Training School

No. = Number

OCU = Operational Conversion Unit

OPS = Operations Wing (I believe)

Sqn = Squadron


Died: Keith died in 2004, aged 80
Buried: Tangmere Churchyard, West Sussex, England

Connection with Cambridge: Keith lived in Cambridge before WWII

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Keith's daughter Susan Fitton for supplying lots of information and most of the photos here, and to David Watkins for additional information



Photos kindly supplied from Keith Fitton's albums by Susan Fitton

Keith's No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School, RNZAF Ashburton, course members. He
is standing in the back row, fourth from left

Keith, standing second from left, with a Lancaster crew, possibly when he was on No. 195 Squadron

Keith Fitton in WWII flying clothing

Five wartime pilots, Keith at the right. It's not certain if this is taken during or after the war

A post-WWII photo of pilots, with Keith in the centre of the back row

Keith beside a Gloster Meteor

Keith in front of his North American F-86 Sabre jet on the occasion of just breaking
the sound barrier for the first time.

Keith with his RAF Leuchars-based Westland Whirlwind search and rescue
helicopter on a snowy Scottish mountain


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