Tuesday, 27 August 2013

17. Owen Willetts

F/O Owen Charles Willetts (NZ425964) replaced Kenneth Ralph as bomb aimer on the 14th April operation because of Ken's ankle injury. Owen had completed 21 operations with F/S Murray Smith's (RNZAF NZ425948) crew between July and October 1944 (see link) but was re-posted to the squadron from No. 291 Squadron on the 28th March.
    Owen Willetts in 1944.**

    **Note that in this photograph F/S Willetts had not yet been awarded a commission and is still wearing the obsolete 'O' brevet, awarded before mid 1943 when 'Air Observers' were trained in both navigation and bombing. Owen did become a specialist bomb aimer but in this article from The Timaru Herald he is referred to as a navigator.

    Owen was born on the 27th February, 1922, and was living in Burke's Pass in South Canterbury when he died in 1994 at the age of 71. As the above article shows, he made a valuable contribution after his death to the The South Canterbury Aviation Heritage Centre where the new section features paraphernalia donated by Owen's family. These include photographs, maps and notes relating to operations over Europe and his original flying suit, complete with boots and jacket, is also included in the exhibition.

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