WELCH, Harold Rangi

Sergeant (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Harold Rangi WELCH
Royal New Zealand Air Force, 75(New Zealand)Squadron,RAF
Killed in Action on Monday 16th December 1942
Aged 23

"For ever and ever, be strong"

Son of Harold Lawrence Vere and May WELCH of Taradale,Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
In the burial register his mother's address is given as 44 Belvedere Road, Hataitai, Wellington, New Zealand.

Harold was born in Napier, the son of Harold and May Welch of Taradale, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. He was educated at Kilbirnie School, Wellington and became a radio mechanic with the Radio Corporation of New Zealand,until he joined the RNZAF in January 1941 as an Aircrafthand. He later remustered as an Air Gunner, For flying training he was sent to Canada to #3 Wireless School at Winnipeg, Manitoba and #7 Bombing and Gunnery School at Paulson, also in Manitoba. He qualified as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner in December 1941 and left for the UK in January. In England he spent two months in a Servicing Squadron and a month at an Advanced Flying Unit before being posted to #11 Operational Training Unit at RAF Bassingbourn in Cambridgeshire,on Wellingtons. From there he went to 75 (New Zealand) Squadron about the time they were changing from Wellingtons to Stirlings and moving from RAF Mildenhall to RAF Newmarket.

Short Stirling Mk3 R9245 c/s AA-N was delivered to No.75 (New Zealand) Sqdn 25/10/1942. Airborne 22:11 on 16/12/1942 from Newmarket to lay mines off Bordeaux. As the Stirling cleared the runway, its starboard undercariage clipped the top of Devil's Dyke. The Dyke was 13' 6" high at that point but the aircraft hit four feet from the top. The oil tank of the starboard inner engine was knocked completely out of the airframe. With no oil it was just a few seconds running on full throttle before this was followed by engine failure. Out of control, the bomber spun in at 22:12, coming down about a mile from the airfield with its mine load exploding on impact. Five other Stirlings waiting to take-off had their missions cancelled.
Probable cause was put at wind direction and long grass impeding the take off run, which although long, the initial climb of a fully laden Stirling was not sufficient to clear any obstacle. The aircraft had swung to port 30 degrees soon after starting, but was straightening as it took off.

Sgt B.A.Franklin RNZAF KIA; Sgt W.J.Lawrence KIA; Sgt W.H.Whitcombe RNZAF KIA ;Sgt E.Harvey RNZAF KIA; Sgt H.R.Welch RNZAF KIA; Sgt E.J.Burridge KIA; Sgt T.Pascoe KIA; 4 of the Commonwealth crewmen were buried in Newmarket, but Sgt E Harvey was buried in Lakenham, Norfolk.
It was Harold's 8th operational mission

Harold is buried in Newmarket Cemetery in grave P:417

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details