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John Bernard Philpott

Portrait - This image may be subject to copyright

Portrait - This image may be subject to copyright


  • Title
  • Forenames
    John Bernard AWMM
  • Surname
    Philpott AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    • NZ39971 AWMM
    • WWII 39971 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    19 September 1909 AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
    Europe (Air) AWMM
  • Armed force / branch
    Air Force AWMM
  • Service number
    • NZ39971 AWMM
    • WWII 39971 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards

Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • 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
    Killed in Action, Cause of Death AWMM
    Missing presumed AWMM

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Brother of Lawrence James Philpott (RNZN 7768); Lionel Ernest Philpott (1356); Michael Joseph Philpott (561803); John Bernard Philpott (NZ39971)

    Prior to the late 1930s the Philpott family didn't have many ideas of war; during the Great War (WWI) our father had been exempt from service by having four children and working in semi-essential services - electricity generation. Michael, the eldest son and Clem, the third son had joined the Army Territorials, as had Burnby Hardy, husband of the eldest daughter, Mary. Fourth son Frank had gone to England on a scholarship with the N.Z. Shipping Co. to study to become a Master Mariner in the static training ship on the Thames, H.M.S. H.M.S. Worcestershire, and as he could not get home during holidays he did the normal thing and joined the Royal Naval Reserve so went on sea exercises in destroyers etc. during the holidays. Within a few days of that fateful broadcast by Prime Minister Chamberlain "...we are now therefore at war with Germany." in September 1939, those who had uniforms were on the 'your country needs you' list.

    Michael served most, if not all, the war as a lieutenant in Divisional Signals but did not leave N.Z. as he had three children - the same reason why his father was not conscripted in the First World War.

    Clem went into training mainly at Waiouru but because of the conditions he contracted serious tuberculosis and associated lung etc. problems so was invalided out into essential postal services but it didn't stop him getting married in 1942.

    Ben was called up in 1941 at the age of 19 to go into the Army but of course not permitted, in that service, to go overseas until he turned 21. Frustration and general misbehaviour saw him discharged from the Army into essential industry so he ended up at the Ford Motor factory making munitions. Eldest son John had the shortest war career in the family being killed on a reconnaissance mission over the English Channel in September 1940.

    Youngest son Lawrie joined the Navy after he finished school in December 1942

    John was a member of the Wellington Aero Club so had a liking for aeroplanes so it was not surprising to hear that he volunteered for the Royal New Zealand Air Force shortly after war broke out. Having turned 30 years of age he was not considered for Pilot Training. He went to England to train as an Observer/Air Gunner and then on to Norfolk where he was posted with others to R.A.F. 82 Squadron at Watton as replacements for crew lost during a tragic raid on German held Odense Airfield. He did several sortees over the occupied ports of the English Channel where it was suspected landing craft for the invasion of England were being assembled (Operation Sea Lion). Intelligence hinted that the invasion was planned for the second week of September 1940 so on the 8th September three bombers of 82 Squadron were sent over on a reconnaissance mission to the Belgium ports even though weather conditions grounded all other aircraft of both sides. Only one of these aircraft returned, the other two, including John's, were lost without any trace whatsoever. The presumption is that they either collided or flew too low under the clouds and struck the sea.

    Officially John is listed "MISSING: PRESUMED KILLED. 8.9.40". John's details and photograph are in the R.A.F. Museum at the base he flew out from in Watton, Norfolk. AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
    8 September 1940 AWMM
    Age 30 AWMM
    English Channel AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name
    Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, United Kingdom AWMM

Roll of Honour

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Leave a note

Leave a tribute or memory of John Bernard Philpott

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  • In memory of my Uncle John (whom I never got to meet) killed at war 1940. He was posted to 82 Squadron as replacement. On the 8th September 1940 Uncle Johns aircraft crashed in the Channel with no trace of aircraft or bodies being found. Rest peacefully Uncle --- you have not been forgotten. x
    Public - Lorraine - Other relative - 2 June 2017



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Command item
Command item
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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
25 November 2020Julian AndrewWatton, Norfolk, United KingdomResearcher
13 August 2020Ian BanksTaumarunui New ZealandResearcher
02 June 2017LorraineKapiti Coast. WellingtonOther relative

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