THAMESIDE AVIATION MUSEUM

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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

The following is an extract from Volume Two (Fates: 1943-1998) of my trilogy
'For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving
with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915':

Mon 28 Feb 1944
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY AIR FORCE

Escort to a raid against a Noball (V-1) site at Poix/Ameins, France

65 Squadron, RAF (Gravesend, Kent - 122 Airfield HQ, 83 Group, 2nd Tactical
Air Force)

Mustang III FX996 - took off at 1235, but 15 minutes later at 2500 feet the
pilot reported he was experiencing engine trouble and broke away. Gliding
down to 1000-1500 feet, he then rolled and was seen to abandon FX996 at
about 400 feet, the fighter crashing near Barrington Farm, Orsett, Essex, 5
miles north of Gravesend. The pilot died when he struck the ground, having
failed to pull his ripcord, and is buried at Brookwood, Woking, Surrey.
Investigators concluded that oil thrown out of the engine may have obscured
the windscreen, and that prior to baling out the pilot may have been
overcome by fumes.

Pilot: NZ391352 Wg Cdr Reginald Joseph Cowan GRANT, DFC* DFM, RNZAF - Age
29. 673hrs (11 solo on Mustang) 205th op.

Grant was the Airfield HQ's commanding officer. His brother, Ian Allan
Charles Grant, died on 13 February while they were flying together on an
operation with 485 Sqn, RNZAF. Their elder brother, William Edward Grant,
died of illness on 2 February 1932 while serving in the pre-war RAF.

Pilot: NZ391352 Wg Cdr Reginald Joseph Cowan GRANT, DFC* DFM, RNZAF - Age
29. 673hrs (11 solo on Mustang) 205th op.

Grant was the Airfield HQ's commanding officer. His brother, Ian Allan
Charles Grant, died on 13 February while they were flying together on an
operation with 485 Sqn, RNZAF. Their elder brother, William Edward Grant,
died of illness on 2 February 1932 while serving in the pre-war RAF.


The following is an expanded version of the draft entry for R J C Grant for
the forthcoming Volume Three:

GRANT, Wing Commander Reginald Joseph Cowan, DFC & bar, DFM, NZ391352
(previously A391352)
born Woodville 3 Jun 14
educated at Mt Albert Grammar (1st XI)
occupation spinner - Aluminium Utensils Ltd, Auckland
Enlisted in RNZAF at Levin/Ground Training School as Airman Pilot under
training 19 Nov 39,
2 Elementary Flying Training School 18 Dec,
injured in crash on approach 19 Jan 40,
2 Flying Training School 11 Mar [sick leave 26 May-15 Sep],
Pilot Badge 13 May,
Sergeant 21 Dec,
embarked 'Empress of Russia' for United Kingdom 6 Jan 41,
3 Personnel Reception Centre 2 Mar,
53 Operational Training Unit (Spitfire) 10 Mar,
145 Squadron (84 ops) 21 Apr,
485 Squadron RNZAF (99 ops) 26 Oct [CO from 6 May 42],
commissioned 25 Nov 41,
RNZAF HQ London 20 Mar 43,
5 Personnel Despatch Centre 2 Apr,
to Canada & NZ Air Mission in Ottawa for Canadian & US lecture tour 6 Apr,
returned to UK 15 Oct,
RNZAF HQ London 18 Oct,
Hornchurch for flying refresher course 1 Nov,
65 Sqn (Spitfire, Mustang; 22 ops) as CO 15 Nov [attached (to?) for Army
Co-op course 11-18 Dec],
HQ 15 Wing 7 Jan 44,
122 Airfield HQ as CO 21 Feb 44,
KAO (in 65 Sqn Mustang) 28 Feb 44
Brookwood Military Cemetery - 2.K.6, Woking, Surrey, England.
Son of William Edward & Gertrude Isabella Grant (nee Rowntree), Mission Bay,
Auckland.
Mentioned in Vols One and Two of the official history of 'New Zealanders
with the RAF', also 'By Such Deeds'.
Photographs appear in 'The Weekly News' of 20 Aug 41, 9 Sep, 16 Sep & 28 Oct
42, 31 Mar 43 & 29 Mar 44

The above has been assembled from a variety of sources. In particular it
should be noted that details appearing in official RNZAF records are often
incomplete, contradictory or just plain wrong. A large portion of the time
spent on each entry is devoted to disentangling these records, in effect
playing detective. Perfection as an end result is not claimed but it can be
said that the above represents the most accurate account to date.

Errol Martyn

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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.

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R.J. Pickett, February 28th 2004