Serial Number: NZ421383
RNZAF Trade: Pilot
Date of Enlistment: 20th of February 1942
Date of Demob: 1st of April 1946
Rank Achieved: Flight Lieutenant
Flying Hours: 787 hours
Operational Sorties: 31 Ops
Date of Birth: 30th of November 1921, in Christchurch
Personal Details: Walter, known as "Mac", was the second son of Mr and Mrs Edward Archer and Jean Alice McElwain of 94 Queen Street, Cambridge. When he was in England he met and married Vivienne Mary McElwain. They had two children, Fiona Clare McElwain and Anthony Paul McElwain, who is known as Paul and also, like his father, Mac.,
Service Details: Walter trained initially in New Zealand and then sailed to Canada onboard the "Bloemfontein" on the 10th of January 1943. He was then posted to No. 2 Service Flying Training School at Uplands, Ottawa. He was a member of Course No. 75.
Walter graduated as a pilot on the 11th of June 1943, receiving his pilots' Flying Badge. At this point its thought he went straight to England where he probably completed his training before posting to a bomber squadron.
He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross on the 27th of March 1945, for his service with No. 166 Squadron, RAF flying Avro Lancasters. The citation read:
“This officer has completed numerous operations against the enemy, in the course of which he has invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty.”
Following his tour with No. 166 Squadron RAF, he became an instructor on a Heavy Conversion Unit.
Details of Death: Died 31st of January 1994 in Auckland, while visiting his son Paul.
Interred at: Eden Gardens, Auckland
Connection with Cambridge: Walter lived in Cambridge before and after the war
Thanks to: Paul 'Mac' McElwain for his assistance with information on this page.
By Such Deeds by Colin Hanson
Canadian training details kindly supplied by Ivan Lindsey
Cambridge Museum records via Eris Parker
The Waikato Independent newspaper dated:
January 1943 Sailed for Canada
18th of June 1943 Gains wings in Canada
10th of March 1944 - Promoted to Flying Officer
4th of April 1945 Awarded DFC
27th of Feb 1946 - Welcome Home Dance