THAMESIDE AVIATION MUSEUM
Wing Commander Reginald Joseph Cowan Grant, DFC and Bar, DFM, Royal New Zealand Air Force, age 29.
Reg Grant was born in Woodville on 3 June 1914 and was educated at Auckland Grammar School. After working as a metal spinner, he joined the RNZAF in November 1939. this aircraft excavated late 1980's by the Thameside Aviation Museum.
On 28th February 2004, a memorial plaque will be dedicated in the memory of Reg Grant, at Orsett Fire Station, Essex. 60 years after the the event. Pictures and reports from this memeorial will be posted here Sunday 29th
We would like to thank Errol Martyn. Author of 'For Your Tomorrow ' for the following
following is an extract from Volume Two (Fates:
1943-1998) of my trilogy
III FX996 - took off at 1235, but 15 minutes later at
2500 feet the
Wg Cdr Reginald Joseph Cowan GRANT, DFC* DFM, RNZAF - Age
Above;The Crash site located in 1985; Roger Pickett far right
Roger Pickett takes up the story
I had an e-mail some months ago from my local history society who had been contacted by the pilots sister, Mrs Veronique Rae who, with her husband Jack ..... a WWII fighter ace himself and a wartime (close) friend of Reg Grant live in Kerikeri NZ. I contacted them and set this project in motion for the couple who it appears never had the full story of the crash given to them by any official department here or indeed at home. Although Reg Grant has a known grave, my museum members feel that pilots such as him, died all these thousands of miles from home defending OUR country and giving us all this freedom we take for granted deserve such recognition.
Above; The crash site in 2003, Reg Grant's Mustang crashed at the spot of the white van in the picture
Reg Grant was born in Woodville on 3 June 1914 and was educated at Auckland Grammar School. After working as a metal spinner, he joined the RNZAF in November 1939. Having completed his flying training Grant was posted to the United Kingdom as a Sergeant-Pilot to join 145 Squadron at Tangmere in March 1941. In June and July, flying Spitfires from Manston, he destroyed four Bf 109's.
Awarded the DFM and commissioned as a Pilot Officer in August 1941, Grant was posted to 485 Squadron, the all-New Zealand fighter unit.
On February 12 1942 the Squadron was ordered to give cover to torpedo bombers tasked to launch attacks on the German battleships 'Scharnhorst' and 'Gneisenau', making their dash through the Channel on the way from Brest to Norway. Bad weather prevented 485 joining up with the bombers so the Spitfires went for the German fighter cover. Grant shot a Bf 109 down into the sea.
By March 1942 Grant was a flight commander and on the 28th, during a sweep from Cap Gris Nez to Dunkirk, he destroyed an FW 190. He took command of 485 in May 1942, flew many sorties in the next few months and in September was awarded the DFC.
On 28 November Grant led five Spitfires to attack ships and barges in the Dutch canals. As they approached the coast and separated he met an He 115 float plane which he shot down into the sea.
In November 1942 Grant's younger brother, Ian, was posted to 485. The Squadron took off for a sweep across northern France on February 13 1943. Shortly after crossing the French coast the Spitfires sighted and engaged a force of FW 190's. However a further twenty German fighters attacked out of the sun and three Spitfires, including Ian Grant's, were shot down. Reg Grant saw the threat but was too late to warn his brother. He immediately engaged the FW 190 which had carried out the attack and shot it down.
He completed his operational tour in March 1943, having carried out 150 sorties and destroyed eight enemy aircraft. He was awarded a Bar to the DFC in June.
After some months in Canada, where he lectured New Zealand air crew trainees, Grant returned to England in November 1943 and was given command of 65 Squadron. Early in 1944 he was appointed Wing Commander, Flying of 122 Wing, equipped with Mustangs.
On February 28 1944 Grant took off for a sortie across the Channel. His engine cut shortly after take off, in cloud. After ordering the Wing to carry on he turned back to base. On coming out of cloud at 1000 feet, he baled out but was too low for his parachute to open properly and was killed.
An excavation carried out on this aircraft in the late 1980's produced very few parts, the crash site is located on the east bound A13 carriageway approx 100mtrs east of theA128 flyover above the main A13 London to Southend Road.
Roger Pickett Left, note prop boss which was the largest item found at the crash site
(photo; Thurrock Gazett)
Memorial Photgraphs Click Here
Memorial day report and full story from Roger Pickets trip to New Zealand to present Wng Cmdr Grants sister with a plaque in the memory of her lost brother. Roger also flew to Wanaka to present a plaque to the Royal New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum.
R.J. Pickett, February 28th 2004