Thomas Richard THWAITE

Serial Number: NZ4215760
RNZAF Trade: Unknown Ground Trade, then Pilot u/t, the Air Observer(Navigator)
Date of Enlistment: 4th of December 1942
Rank Achieved: Flight Sergeant
Flying Hours: 405 hours
Operational Sorties: 14

Date of Birth: 26th of May 1924, at Frankton, Hamilton
Personal Details: Thomas was the son of Mr Thomas T. Thwaite (snr.) and Mrs Josephine Thwaite (nee Coyle) of Kaipaki. He was educated at Ohaupo School, and on leaving he worked on his father's Kaipaki farm.

His airmindedness must have been keen as he was a member of No. 7 (Hamilton) Squadron of the Air Training Corps, and he was still a member of this at the time of making his application for RNZAF service on the 20th of May 1942.

Service Details: Thomas enlisted at the Initial Training Wing, RNZAF Station Levin, on the 4th of December 1942. On the 11th of January 1943 he was posted to RNZAF Station Taieri, Dunedin, for ground duties, until he was reposted to the ITW, now at RNZAF Station Rotorua on the 1st of April 1943, having remustered to aircrew.

On the 29th of May he began pilot training at No. 2 EFTS, RNZAF Station Ashburton, but on the 20th of June his training was terminated. he was remustered to Air Observer trade and posted to RNZAF Station Rongotai. He reported to RNZAF Station Rukuhia, Hamilton, on the 3rd of July 1943, and embarked for Canada on the 15th of August 43.

After arrival in Canada on the 4th of September, Tom had a wait until the 3rd of October before he was posted to No. 7 Air Observers' School at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. However on the 25th of February 1944 he was awarded his Air Observer's badge and promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

On the 7th of March 1944 he proceeded to No. 1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia, for embarkation to Britain by troopship. He arrived on the 3rd of April 1944 at No. 12 (RNZAF) Personnel Despatch and Receiving Centre in Brighton.

Tom was posted on the 13th of May to No. 9 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit in Llandwrog, Wales for advanced navigation training, and then on the 20th of June to No. 10 OTU at Abingdon, Berkshire. At the OTU he crewed up and trained on Avro Ansons and Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bombers in preparation for operational flying. During this training period, on the 25th of August 1944, Tom was promoted to Flight Sergeant.

On the 13th of October he proceeded to No. 1669 Conversion Unit with his crew where they trained on the larger four-engined Handley page Halifax bombers. That course was followed by further conversion to type at No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School at Syerston, Notts.

On the 25th of January 1945, Tom and his crew were posted to No. 50 Squadron at Skellingthorpe in Lincs., where as navigator aboard Lancasters he completed 14 operational sorties over enemy territory. The targets included Karlsruhe, Politz, Dresden, Bohlen (twice), the Mitteland Canal, Ladbergen, Dortmund, Lutzkendorf (twice), Whurztburg, Wesel, Farge and Molbis (all in Germany).

Details of Death: Flight Sergeant Thomas Thwaite was the Navigator of the crew of a Lancaster bomber of No. 50 Squadron which took off from Continental Europe on the 26th of April 1945. The aircraft crashed at the Hardingstone Lodge Farm in Northamptonshire, while returning from a ferry flight Europe. Tom was aged 20
Buried: Thomas was buried in Plot H/3, Grave 94, of the Botley Regional Cemetery, Oxford, with Service Honours

Connection with Cambridge: Thomas lived at Kaipaki, Cambridge, before the war


Home Airmen Roll of Honour