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.
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.|
|De Havilland Mosquito|
|Notice in the local press, 1945.|
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.|
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.