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:
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
Bassingbourne - Wg Adj
Harvard PNI, Prentice
Meteor & Vampire V
Vampire V & Sabre
Sabre (Flt Cdr)
Canberra, Chipmunk Fl
Sioux & Whirlwind
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