22nd of May 1917, at Gisborne.
Bill was the son of William Francis Stuart and of Alice Stuart (nee
Pretty), of Morrinsville. He was educated at Tauwhare and Motumaoho
primary schools, and Hamilton Technical College. He was a keen
sportsman, playing football, cricket and tennis, and also had an
interest in riding horses.
Following school, Bill became a general
farm labourer in the district, and just before joining the RNZAF he had
been a shearer on Gordon Vosper's farm at Dingly Dell, Cambridge,
Ron Watts and
Bill applied for
the RNZAF in December 1939, but due to medical reasons he was not
immediately accepted. He eventually enlisted on the 13th of April 1941
at the Initial Training Wing, RNZAF Levin.
Following this short initial course, Bill left New Zealand around
mid-late June 1941, having been fare welled from Cambridge on about the
12th of June 1941
This article appeared in the
Waikato Independent newspaper on the 13th of June 1941 when a
farewell was held for Bill:
AIRCRAFTSMAN J.W. STUART
PRESENTATION OF WALLET
Stuart was the guest of honour at a morning tea gathering organised by
the Cambridge District Patriotic Committee yesterday. He was presented
with a wallet bearing his initials.
Before joining the Air Force,
Leading-Aircraftsman Stuart was farming for three and a half years with
his brother, Mr R.K. Stuart, at Roto-o-rangi. His home town is
Morrinsville, where his mother and father, Mr and Mrs W. Stuart, reside.
While expressing confidence
in the final result of the war, the Mayor, Mr Edgar James, made
reference to the seriousness of the situation, a fuller realisation of
which had been brought home to the people of New Zealand by the action
in Greece and Crete.
Every Airman Counts
In giving protection to the
Army and Navy, the Royal Air Force was very necessary for victory, added
Mr James. Every airman who joined up was bringing closer the time when
England would have supremacy in the air. It would be then that we would
take the offensive and fight of for victory.
"With all his territorial
gains, Hitler will be beaten," said the Mayor. "He will be desperate at
the finish, as he has made no impression on the morale of the people."
Mr James impressed to
Aircraftsman Stuart the district's appreciation of the part he was going
to play in bringing victory closer.
Mr R. Newcombe added best
wishes, on behalf of the Returned Soldiers' Association. He said that
ex-servicemen considered that this war was a continuation of the last,
and they were out to help the present-day soldiers in every way
The wallet was presented by
the Mayoress, Mrs James, to Aircraftsman Stuart, who returned thanks for
the reception and the gift. He said he was keen to go away, but was
sorry to leave good friends behind.
An apology was received from
R.L. Caley, who had
been invited to share the honours of the gathering with
Leading-Aircraftsman Stuart. Leading-Aircraftsman Caley was born at
Pukerimu, being the son of the late Mr and Mrs R. Caley. Since leaving
school, he had been sheep-farming at Gisborne and Hawke's Bay. "
I believe that Bill Stuart left
New Zealand for Canada on the SS Awatea on the 18th of June 1941. Upon
arrival Bill was sent to No. 6 Air Observers School in Prince Albert,
Saskatchewan, on the same course as
R.L.Caley. There, Bill underwent training as an air observer, or
navigator, in Avro Ansons.
On the 28th of September 1941,
Bill proceeded to the next level of his course, with No. 3 Bombing and
Gunnery School, at MacDonald, Manitoba. he completed this course on the
8th of November 1941, at which point he received his Air Observer
brevet, and was promoted to Sergeant.
The following day Bill was
posted to No. 1 Advanced Navigation School at Rivers, Manitoba. This
course took him through to January 1942, at which point he crossed the
Atlantic to England.
On arrival in Britain, Bill
reported to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre in Bournemouth, where he
was to spend several months awaiting his next course. He was promoted to
Flight Sergeant on the 1st of April 1942, and on the 7th of that month
Bill finally got his posting, to No. 9 Air Observer's School at Penrhos,
Caenarvonshire, in North Wales.
At the school he trained on
Bristol Blenheim light bombers, until he completed this training and was
posted in May 1942 to No. 11 Operational Training Unit at Bassingbourn,
Hertfordshire, to convert onto Vickers Wellington bombers.
In early June he moved with the
OTU to a satellite airfield at Steeple Morden. He began to take part in
operational exercises, flying as the bomb aimer on the majority of
On the 31st of July 1942, Bill
took part in his first operational raid, when he was involved in bombing
factory buildings in Dusseldorf, Germany.
On the 11th of August 1942 Bill
was posted to No. 156 Squadron at Wyton, Huntingdonshire, and shortly
afterwards moved to a nearby satellite field at Warboys. With this
squadron he began carrying out exercises and operations.
Details of Death: At
20:39hrs on Thursday the 27th of August 1942, Bill was on the crew of a
No. 156 Squadron Vickers Wellington III (coded Z1613) that took off from
RAF Warboys, Huntingdonshire to make a raid on Kassel, Germany. A
Pathfinder squadron, Bill's plane was one of 306 aircraft taking part in
the raid, 33 of which were to be lost.
His Wellington was shot down over the
Netherlands by a night fighter at 23:23hrs, and crashed near Elsendorp,
25km northeast of Eindhoven.
"Bomber Command Losses" account of the loss of this aircraft,
attributing it to Hptm. Werner Streib I./NJG1, is contradicted by
Boiten's "Nachtjadg War Diaries" which gives the time as 23:35 hrs at
Gemert, 10 km. North of Helmond (5B): 5800 m. by Oblt. Hans-Dieter
Frank. 2/NJG1 (His tenth victory).
Bill was aged 25.
Buried At: All six
crew are buried at EINDHOVEN (WOENSEL) General Cemetery, Noord-Brabant,
Connection with Cambridge
Bill Stuart lived and worked in the Cambridge district before the war.