Maurice Newton WALKER
Serial Number: NZ405348
RNZAF Trade: Airman Pilot u/t, then Navigator
Date of Enlistment: 22nd of December 1940
Date of Demob:
Rank Achieved: Flying Officer
Date of Birth: 26th of November 1919, at Cambridge
Personal Details: Maurice was the son of the late Thomas and Anne Walker of Karapiro. He was educated in Cambridge at all levels, and then worked as a member of the local Exchange Staff before joining the RNZAF. Maurice had also fulfilled the role of assistant scoutmaster in Cambridge before the war. His next of kin when he joined the RNZAF was his brother, Mr G. Walker of Karapiro Road, R.D. Cambridge.
Maurice became engaged to Helen Constance Fanny Williams of Auckland in February 1944, and they were married at St Andrew's Church, Epsom, Auckland, on the 30th of December 1944. Maurice's groomsman was F/O Harry "Digger" Duigan, also of Cambridge, whom Maurice had recently returned from England with.
Service Details: Maurice left New Zealand aboard the RMS AWATEA on the 18th of June 1941 bound for Canada and to pass through Empire Air Training Scheme.
He was posted first to No. 10 Service Flying Training School at Dauphin, but it seems he was remustered from pilot training to navigator, and he then trained for a period at No. 5 Air Observer's School at Winnipeg. Maurice graduated as a Navigator on the 29th of April 1941.
Following training, he embarked for England to begin flying with the Royal Air Force. He flew a number of sorties on Vickers Wellingtons while at RAF Operational Training Units.
He then joined an
Overseas Air Dispatch Unit
Ferry Flight, in which he ferried Wellington bombers from Britain to the Middle East, via Gibraltar and Malta.
On one of these delivery flights on the 23rd of October 1942, Maurice was in a crew that were ferrying Wellington Ic HX775 from Gibraltar to Bathurst . The aircraft developed engine trouble and was forced to land at Las Palmas, on the Spanish island of Gran Canarias (Grand Canary).
Maurice and the other crew were taken prisoner by the Spanish for four months before being released on the 19th of February 1943, and shipped to Cadiz on the 22nd .
After setting fire to the aircraft, the crew consisting of Sgt J W Chester, RCAF(pilot),
Sgt Forsberg, RCAF (2nd Pilot),
Sgt Maurice Walker, RNZAF (Navigator),
Sgt H E M Howell, RAAF (Radio Operator),
Sgt D D Gardner, RAAF (Air Gunner), and
Sgt J W Wilkinson, RAAF (Air Gunner) were all taken prisoner and interned by the Spanish authorities.
It was not until four months later or more that they were released from neutral Spain's prison. By Such Deeds by Colin Hanson records that they were released on the 19th of February 1943, and shipped to Cadiz on the 22nd of that month. From here they were taken to Gibraltar and eventually returned to England. However another source, RAF Middle East Bomber Losses, gives their release date as later on 7th of March 1943. It also states that Sgt Forsberg apparently stowed away on an Italian tanker operating under Merchant Navy control, and reached Curacao.
After repatriation Maurice carried on in his role as a Navigator. He took a further course in navigation in 1944 and following the successful passing of this he was promoted from Warrant Officer to Pilot Officer in July/August 1944. He was then posted to a Pathfinder Squadron, and was to serve on both No 7 (PFF) and No 582 (PFF) Sqns, both on Lancaster bombers.
Details of Death: 22nd of September 1997, at Hamilton, aged 77
Buried at: Newstead Cemetery, Hamilton
Connection with Cambridge: Maurice was born and bred in Cambridge
Articles in the Waikato Independent Mentioning Maurice Newton Walker
RNZAF 27 Jan 1941
Farewelled with wallet 16 May 1941
Interned in Spain 4 Nov 1942
Safe in British Territory 4 March 1943
Received his commission 4 Sept 1944
Welcome Home Dance 2 May 1945
Note: There were actually two Maurice Walkers in Cambridge at the time, the other being a little younger and serving in the Cambridge Air Training Corps
Thanks To: Colin Hanson who's excellent book By Such Deeds provided me with extra information on Maurice Walker. I am grateful to Ivan Lindsey for providing details of Maurice's Canadian training and other details, and thanks also to Errol Martyn for providing details of Maurice's flight that saw him interned in Spain, from the draft of the upcoming book
'RAF Middle East Bomber Losses Volume I (1939-1942)' by
is David Gunby and Pel Temple. (To be published by Midland Counties Publications soon