Maurice Victor SMITH

Serial Number: NZ422327
RNZAF Trade: Navigator
Date of Enlistment: 4th of April 1942
Rank Achieved: Pilot Officer
Flying Hours: 125 hours
Operational Sorties: Nil

Date of Birth: 21st of April 1920, at Cambridge
Personal Details: Maurice was the son of Alfred Victor Smith and Ellen Jane Smith. He had attended Wellington College and Victoria University College, becoming a teacher and working for the Wellington Education Board.

Service Details: Maurice served for three months in the Territorial Army before joining the RNZAF at Initial Training Wing, RNZAF Rotorua, on the 4th of April 1942. Maurice had initially hoped to train as a pilot but following his ITW training he was remustered as an Air Observer u/t, on the 18th of May 1942.

He embarked for Canada on the 22nd of June, arriving on the 15th of July 1942, and was attached to the Royal Canadian Air Force for training. Maurice began training at No. 9 Air Observer School around three days later.

On the 6th of November 1942 Maurice passed his training, was awarded the Air Navigator and Air Observer badge, was promoted to Sergeant and then commissioned as a Pilot Officer. ten days later he arrived at 1 Y Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia to await transport to Britain. he was put on a train to New York, where he boarded a ship on the 23rd bound for England.

On arrival in the UK on the 1st of December 1942 Maurice was sent to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre at Bournemouth to acclimatise and await a posting. He was attached to an Army unit 1 RGH from the 1-13th of January 1943. He was then selected for a Ministry of Information Tour.

Date of Death : 31st of March 1943, at Fife, Scotland. Maurice was one of eight men aboard a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm de Havilland DH86B, AX844, of No. 782 Squadron NAS from Donibristle. It seems that the RAF pilot was ferrying three New Zealand airmen and three RAAF airmen whilst on the Ministry of Information tour of Britain. The aircraft took off in gusty conditions at 15.21 hours, but was seen to lose speed and spin in to the ground. Only one of those aboard, Pilot Officer D.W. Newman, RNZAF, escaped the crash, but was badly injured. Maurice was killed.
Buried: Dunfermline (Douglas Bank) Cemetery, Fife, Scotland.

Connection with Cambridge: Maurice was born in Cambridge.

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

Note: Maurice had a brother in the RNZAF, Barry Alfred Smith NZ413134, who was killed on the 22nd of October 1941. It is possible that he too may have lived in Cambridge for a time but I have not yet confirmed this.


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