Tuesday, 10 September 2013

4. Bill Mallon - pilot

Bill Mallon, pilot, 75 (NZ) Squadron, 1945
Bill was born in Bell Block, New Plymouth on the 9th April, 1920 to Alexander Mallon, an Australian, and Dora, nee Rogers. He attended Bell Block Primary School and then New Plymouth Boys' High School where he was a member of the Cadet Corps. After leaving school he started work at Newton King Ltd. in the spares department of the motor division and in 1939 he became a volunteer fire fighter. In 1940 he applied to join the RNZAF - see chapter 5
I originally had no idea why Bill left his crew so suddenly at the end of April 1945 other than it may have had something to do with the death of his brother. With the help of Chris Newey and 'The Wings Over New Zealand Aviation Forum' I eventually discovered the tragic reason for his premature departure. If ever there was a story that illustrates the sacrifices made by the people of New Zealand then this is it.

There can have been no parents in Taranaki, New Zealand prouder than Alexander and Dora Mallon. They had three sons, Thomas (Tom), John (Jack) and William (Bill) and a daughter Dora May. By 1940 Jack was an RAF pilot with No. 53 Squadron which was based in France but had returned to the UK in May 1940 as the German army advanced. Its Bristol Blenheims supported the Dunkirk evacuation and continued to fly reconnaissance missions over France. In July 1940 the squadron was transferred to Coastal Command and moved to RAF Detling in Kent and continued with anti-submarine and anti-shipping operations as well as bombing sorties targeting harbours and coastal defences. In 1941 its Blenheims were replaced by American-built Lockheed Hudsons.

Bristol Blenheim
Lockheed Hudson

On the 8th October 1940 Jack was reported 'missing in action' over France on his 43rd operation.. It was subsequently confirmed that he had been killed, together with two other members of the crew of his Blenheim T2036 (PZ-K), wireless operator/air gunner Sgt. Arthur Thomas Shackleford (613282), and observer Sgt. Wilfred Philip Whetton D.F.M. (562320)

Notice in the local press, 1940.

Despite their loss Tom and Bill also became pilots, Tom flying de Havilland Mosquitoes with No. 488 (NZ) Squadron and Bill, the youngest, completing his training in 1945 to fly Avro Lancasters. On the 15th November 1944 488 (NZ) Squadron was moved from the U.K. to Amiens-Glisy in France and then on to the Netherlands as support for the Allied advance towards Germany. Ten days later flight engineer Bob Jay joined Bill and the rest of his crew at RAF Langar to complete their training for the 4-engine Lancaster.
Bill and his crew completed their training and on the 6th March 1945 they were posted to No. 75 (NZ) Squadron at Mepal. They completed their first operation on the 9th when they took part in a daylight raid on Datteln. Three days later, just before 4.30 a.m. on the 12th March 1945, Tom and his navigator, P/O George Brock (NZ429138), took off in their Mosquito Mark XXX (MT484) from Gilze-Rijen airfield in the Netherlands for a night patrol. Minutes later they crashed into a barn 2.5 km from the runway - both died later that day. Tom had become the second Mallon brother to be killed in action.
De Havilland Mosquito

Notice in the local press, 1945.
Bill continued active service throughout March and April, receiving a commission and becoming the third Pilot Officer in the Mallon family. He took part in the squadron's last operational sortie over Bad Oldesloe on the 24th April and then said goodbye to his crew and took on ground duties before returning to his devastated parents and sister in New Zealand.
Jack is buried alongside his crew members in the Guînes Communal Cemetery, 10 km from Calais in France.

The graves of Jack and his crew, photographed by Paul Warnault.
and Tom and his navigator are in the Bergen-Op-Zoom Cemetery in the Netherlands. More than 4000 New Zealand aircrew were killed in action during World War 2, and Bill made a point of attending his local Dawn Parade and Service in their memory every year.

Bill, who was born on the 9th April, 1920, had been married to Lorna for 60 years when he died aged 90 on the 29th June, 2010 but his brothers' names have lived on in their two sons, Barrie John and Kevin Thomas - the only boy among their five grandchildren is called Thomas William.

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