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Stuart Russell Withiel Thomas

Portrait of Stuart Russell Withiel Thomas in Royal New Zealand Air Force Uniform. Image kindly provided by Son, Mike Thomas (December 2020).

Portrait of Stuart Russell Withiel Thomas in Royal New Zealand Air Force Uniform. Image kindly provi …

Copyright undetermined - untraced rights owner AWMM


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Stuart Russell Withiel AWMM
  • Surname
    Thomas AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    • WWII NZ432174 AWMM
    • WWII 432174 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    15 November 1923 AWMM LondonEngland AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    WW2 care of Colonial Sugar Refining Co., Ltd. Auckland AWMM
  • Post war occupation
    Fire Commander/Civilian AWMM
    National Headquarters, New Zealand Fire Service AWMM
  • Next of kin on embarkation
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
    Pacific Theatre of War AWMM
  • Armed force / branch
    Air Force AWMM
  • Service number
    • WWII NZ432174 AWMM
    • WWII 432174 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
    Meteorological Observer AWMM
  • Enlistment
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Details of service:
    One month training Ngaruawhaha (Hopahopa?)
    Three months NZ Artillery, Gunner 619587 at Tapeka Point (back of Russell) Bay of Islands while waiting for Air Force intake. Oct 1942-Jan 1943
    B Section to Moturau Island in channel to Opua and A section went to Whangaroa Peninsula.
    No uniforms until finished initial training. At end of three weeks, (square bashing), Aptitude tests.
    Section C installed searchlights, 2 x 6 inch guns; 2x 40 mm Bofors AA ; search lights set into the cliff face, Used an island 12 miles away for target practice - "Nine Pin", a rocky islet at entrance to Bay of Islands boat harbour
    Southern half of Bay of Islands mined, was supposed to be used as a base for US Fleet if unable to be at Guadalcanal.
    Army time _ waiting for intake for air force.. Wanted to train as a navigator
    February 1943 Air force intake at Omaka, more 'square bashing'
    Airman 1st Class RNZAF- LAC NZ432174 = number 43 = year; 2 - month ; 174 = position in queue
    Sent to Rotorua, winter down by the lake for air crew initial training wing. Lived in 'bell tents'
    Offered three choices (they had too many recruits for places available as Navigator, other options were tail gunner or meteorological service.
    Chose met service as didn't like position of tail gunner
    Met observer leading aircraft man - sent to Bell Block at New Plymouth for 6 weeks training, then Whenuapai 3-4 weeks while in transit to posting.. This included 'final leave' of two weeks.
    Meteorological Observer 1942 to 1946 - ( Pacific Islands April 1943- March 1944)
    NZ Air Task Force
    Norfolk Island 7 1/2 months - this was the staging point for 'Kitty Hawks" and other air crew via Noumea or Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Espirito Santos then Guadalcanal.
    Bougainville - 1 month
    Emerau - November 1943.. This was 100 miles south of the equator - stayed here 3 1/2 months, part of RNZAF task force sending Ventura bombers to bomb Rabaul
    Returned to Rongatai, Wellington (Kelburn) April 1945 then doing relieving at various places.
    Tauranga - 1 month Taieri Dunedin 7 months, including visits to Awarua Radio in Southland
    - temporary posting, 10 days after major storm at Ashburton cut communication further north. Usually no met service here.
    Observer Blenheim 1-2 weeks, including visit by Queen Mother.
    Hokitika 2-3 months
    Taieri about 7 months
    Auckland to Mt Hobson for discharge.

    Member of the Institue of Fire Engineers (MIFireE) AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
    18 August 2018 AWMM
    Age 94 AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
    Published in The New Zealand Herald from Aug. 21 to Aug. 22, 2018. THOMAS, Stuart Withiel. QFSM, MIFireE Late of Deception Bay Qld, born London 15 Nov 1923, passed away peacefully in Redcliffe Qld Australia, 18 Aug 2018 in his 95th year. Loved husband of the late Helen, father of Michael and Yvonne (Qld), Ann and Vaughan (NZ), Sue and Pete (Qld) and the late David (NZ). Loved Gan of Iain, Dee, Amy and Tim and all his great and great great grandchildren. AWMM
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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  • External links
  • References
    • New Zealand, World War II Ballot Lists, 1940–1945. [Extracted from the New Zealand Gazette.] CD-ROM. Ravensbourne, Dunedin, New Zealand: Colonial CD Books, n.d. AWMM
    • Information kindly provided by family AWMM

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