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Roy Douglas Max

Portrait from The Weekly News; 27 August 1941 (Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) - This image may be subject to copyright

Portrait from The Weekly News; 27 August 1941 (Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) - This image …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Roy Douglas AWMM
  • Surname
    Max AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    • WWII NZ2076 AWMM
    • 36149 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    23 November 1918 AWMM
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Training and Enlistment

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Prisoner of war

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Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • Wing Commander Max served in the RNZAF from November 1937 to August 1938; and in the RAF from August 1938 to December 1943 and then again with RNZAF from December 1943 to March 1947.

      Hanson, C. (2001). p 328 AWMM
    • Group Captain Roy Max, who has died aged 88, travelled from New Zealand to join the RAF as a pilot and survived the crippling losses of bombers deployed to France at the outbreak of the Second World War; already a veteran at 24, he was made a wing commander and appointed to command No 75 (NZ) Squadron, the first Commonwealth squadron in Bomber Command.
      Shortly after the declaration of war in September 1939 No 103 Squadron, equipped with the Fairey Battle, deployed to France. Max flew patrols throughout the Phoney War, but when the German assault began on May 10 1940 the 10 Battle squadrons in France were immediately in action.
      It soon became apparent that the pre-war aircraft was hopelessly outclassed, and the force suffered very heavy casualties.
      Within two days Max recognised that their peacetime training in level bombing was suicidal and the squadron began dive bombing - but this made them vulnerable to ground fire. On a raid to bomb pontoon bridges at Sedan, 41 Battles from a force of 70 failed to return.
      On one occasion Max dived on a group of enemy tanks in a valley and found that the guns were shooting down on him. His aircraft was hit and unable to climb. Although he and his gunner were wounded, he managed to land on a French airfield.
      Returning to operations a few days later, he was told that he had been awarded the Croix de Guerre and the news reached his parents and newspapers in New Zealand. In the chaos of the collapsing French administration, however, the paperwork was lost and he never received the medal.
      By the middle of June No 103 had lost 18 aircraft and nine crews, and Max was lucky to survive when a German fighter strafed the airfield as he was standing on the wing refuelling his aircraft. He jumped into a trench and watched his bomber burst into flames with all his belongings inside it.
      In the sole surviving aircraft he took off for a maintenance unit near Nantes, where a number of other Battles were found. Ground crew were loaded into the cramped cockpit of Max's aircraft and he headed towards England.
      He navigated using a map torn from a calendar, skirting the Channel Islands and landing at the first airfield he came to after crossing the English coast in order to determine where he was; he then pressed on to Abingdon.
      The son of a farmer, Roy Douglas Max was born on November 24 1918 at Brightwater, near Nelson in New Zealand. After attending Nelson College he learned to fly at the local aero club when he was 18.
      In 1937 the RAF needed pilots, and Max volunteered. After initial training in New Zealand, he left for England and was awarded a short service commission in the RAF in August 1938.
      Returning from France, No 103 re-equipped with the Wellington bomber, and Max flew on the squadron's first operation bombing the docks at Ostend in December 1940. He also attacked targets in the Ruhr.
      In March he was told to rest, and was sent to Canada to ferry American-built aircraft to Britain. Having delivered three Hudson bombers, he tired of being separated from his new wife and volunteered to return to No 103.
      On July 24 1941 a major daylight raid was mounted with 100 bombers against the German capital ships at Brest. Max was leading a section of Wellingtons with no fighter escort, and losses were heavy. But he pressed home his attack, and his bombs were seen exploding on a dry dock. He was awarded the DFC.
      Max became the deputy chief instructor at a bomber training unit and found it almost as dangerous as operational flying - on one occasion his student crashed on to a small hilltop after missing the runway as he tried to land.
      In July 1943 Max's short service commission was completed, and he reverted to the RNZAF as a squadron leader. Almost immediately he was informed that it had been decided that a native New Zealander should command No 75 (NZ) Squadron and he was promoted to wing commander.
      Max began operations on August 19 1943, flying the Stirling bomber from an airfield near Cambridge. The Battl Public - Wayne Laurence - Other relative - 20 March 2022 - Obituary published in the British newspaper, The Telegraph, 11 July 2007.
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About death

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  • Death
    1 July 2007 AWMM
    Age 88 AWMM
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Command item
Command item
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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
20 March 2022Wayne LaurenceWellington, New ZealandOther relative
18 April 2021KelvinNorfolk, EnglandResearcher

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