Ernest Leslie AWMM
Also known as
POW liberation details
POW serial number
- Ernest Joyce was the son of Ernest Joseph and Cora Winifred Joyce, of Hamilton. AWMM
- Squadron Leader Ernest Leslie Joyce (known from an early age as ‘Nipper’) entered the RNZAF as a young man in 1940 of 20 years and was to spend the following four years developing into a much more mature 24 year old leader of men.
He trained in NZ and the UK in 1940/41. He joined 3 Squadron RAF in 1941 with another well known NZ fighter pilot, Desmond Scott. They were stationed in Scotland initially and later move to be based on Southeast England. ‘Nipper’ cheated death twice in one day, taken through barrage balloons by his CO one of the squadron being killed and then just getting out of his Hurricane fighter after landing in time as a German strafing attack was made on the airfield. On another occasion with 3 Squadron whilst undertaking mock fighter attacks and RAF pilot, Sgt Brennan of 3 Squadron, clipped Nipper’s aircraft. Brennan spun down out of control and was killed. Nipper, with great effort, managed to land his damaged Hurricane.
From 3 Squadron Nipper boarded the aircraft carrier Ark Royal and sailed to Gibraltar. He then transferred to the carrier Illustrious and a few days later flew a Hurricane off the flightdeck of the Illustrious and flew to Malta. In this same operation nine men were killed when another Hurricane crashed on takeoff. From Malta Nipper flew a Hurricane from Malta to Egypt.
Nipper was assigned to 73 Squadron RAF, equipped with Hurricane 1s which were soon swapped for 20mm canon equipped Hurricane IICs. Nipper did not want to leave the UK and loathed being in the Western Desert. The conditions were very harsh with poor food, poor water, sickness and sand in everything. Add to this heat, flies, second rate equipment and lack of recognition for those serving in this theatre of war and Nipper really did ‘do it tough’. He was also acutely aware that most of his RNZAF friends and fellow trainees had already been killed by the end of 1942, most of whose names he listed in his letters home and flying log book.
His time with 73 Squadron was a very productive one in 1942 in particular. His first victory was a Junkers 88 bomber at night in late May 1942. In hectic and very intense fighting he went on to destroy nine enemy aircraft in the desert, these being five Junkers 88 bombers all at night, two Messerschmitt Bf 109s and two Italian CR 42 fighters. By the end of 1942 he had also probably destroyed three other Bf 109s and had damaged eight other aircraft.
Nipper was awarded the Dustinguished Flying Medal in August 1942 and was commissioned as an officer. By the end of 1942 he was a Flight Lieutenant and was undertaking flying training having completed over 200 operations. At this time he was also recommended for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross but a mix-up in the recommendation process did not lead to the award being made.
He came back to 73 Squadron in mid 1943 as their Commanding Officer, 73 Squadron having converted to Spitfire Vc fighters. He led the squadron in Sicily and relinquished command in late 1943.
He returned to England, a move he was very happy to make. He was trained on North American Mustangs and was posted to take command of 122 Squadron RAF flying Mustangs. This was part of 122 Wing led by his old 73 Squadron CO and good friend South African Robin Johnson. Nipper shopt down one more German aircraft, a Heinkel He111 bomber. This brought his tally to ten, five at night and five during daylight.
On 18 June 1944 Nipper led 122 Squadron over France to undertake strafing attacks. Whilst attacking a train Nipper was ‘bounced’ by a Bf 109 flown by a German fighter ‘Ace’ and shot down. His burning Mustang crashed near the French village of Marville les Bois. His body was retrieved by local French under the direction of the parish priest, from under the noses of the Germans. It appeared the German canon fire had entered the cockpit and Nipper had been killed. He was buried with great ceremony and honour, thousands of local French attending, in the cemetery at Marville les Bois.
Li Public - John - Researcher - 23 December 2016 - Nipper's letters, telegrams, photos, log book and personal file
17 June 1944 AWMM
Age 24 AWMM
Date of death
- 17 June 1944 Public - John - Researcher - 27 March 2017 - I have verified this date with Commonwealth War Graves Commission using numerous records I hold, 122 Squadron Operations Record Book entries and Joyce's Defence personnel file. They have accepted this evidence and changed his date of death to the correct date of 17 June 1944. He died around 5pm local time as stated in an eye witness account and a letter from the local priest.
- The date on Cenotaph of 18 June 1944 should be removed. The CWGC date is now 17 June 1944. Public - John - Researcher - 22 April 2018 - See my references in my previous contribution.
Age at death
Place of death
Cause of death
Marville-Les-Bois Communal Cemetery, Eure-et-Loir, France AWMM
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Ernest Leslie Joyce
- The Weekly News AWMM
The Weekly News 1944 AWMM
- Martyn, E. (1998-2008). For Your Tomorrow (Vols. 1-3). Christchurch, N.Z.: Volplane Press. AWMM
|30 May 2019||Leslie Donald||Tauranga New Zealand||Direct descendant||
|22 April 2018||John||Christchurch||Researcher||
|23 December 2016||John||New Zealand||Researcher||
|01 October 2016||Les||Tauranga||Other relative||
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