Date of Birth: Winston was born in Cambridge on the 20th of Decemeber 1916
Personal Details: Winston was the son of Percy and Winifred Cannell (nee Hooker). He was educated at Matamata District High School, and while there played for the First XV rugby team. Before the war Winston was farming with his father at Peria
Service Details: Winston joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force at the Intital Training Wing, RNZAF Station Levin on the 6th of July 1941 as an Airman Pilot Under Training. He progressed on the 17th of August 1941 to No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School at Whenuapai to learn to fly in de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moths.
From there Winston's next posting came on the 26th of September 1941 and this was to Ohakea, where he went on to train in multi-engined flying in Airspeed Oxfords at No. 3 Service Flying Training School.
Winston gained his pilots badge and was then killed whilst still training on Oxfords.
Date of Death : 20th of November 1941, aged 24. Winston Cannell and fellow trainee pilot LAC Charles William Baker (NZ413804) took off at 10.30hrs in Oxford II (serial number NZ1245) from Ohakea for a cross country flight to Opunake and back. It is believed Winston was piloting the aircraft and Charles Baker was acting as navigator.
The aircraft failed to return by the scheduled time of 14.30 hours that day, and an extensive search was mounted, but it failed to find any trace of the Oxford and its occupants. On the 26th of November it was announced that Baker's father, Mr. W.P. Baker of Russell, was offering a £200 reward for any information that might lead to the discovery of the aeroplane, as he felt the pair may still be alive. He hoped the reward might stimulate local residents to go searching for the aircraft. Two days later on the 28th of November, the reward offer was increased to £500. But still the aircraft wasn't found.
Finally in April 1943 the remains of the aircraft were discovered in hill country near Maunganui Peak, in the Akatarawa Valley, part of the Tararua Ranges. It seems the aircrfat had become lost in bad weather and had hit trees that had made the aircraft uncontrollable, and it had continued on and hit further trees, flipping upside-down and crashing onto the hill. The bodies of both pilots were recovered on the 14th of April 1943.
Buried: Winston is buried at Matamata Public Cemetery
Connection with Cambridge: Winston 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
Other Sources: The Evening Post newspaper (via Papers Past online) for the 26th and 28th of November 1941