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Kenneth Paul Collett

Warrant Officer Ken Collett photographed beside a Wellington.

Kenneth Paul Collett photographed during training in Canada, 1943

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  • Title
  • Forenames
    Kenneth Paul AWMM
  • Surname
    Collett AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    • WWII 422179 AWMM
    • WWII NZ422179 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    26 August 1908 AWMM PetoneWellington AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
  • Relationship status
    Unknown AWMM Single AWMM


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
  • Armed force / branch
    Air Force AWMM
  • Service number
    • WWII 422179 AWMM
    • WWII NZ422179 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
    WW2 POW - Stalag Luft III, Sagan, Germany AWMM
    26 April 1944 AWMM
    Bombing mission over Germany. AWMM
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number
    WWII 4183 AWMM

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • Son of Horace Claude Collett and Elizabeth Farr.

      Went to live with grandmother, Alice Washer, formerly Collett (nee Radford), in Auckland when still quite young, and there received his Primary education.

      Returned to Wellington at age 13, where he attended St. Patrick's College, 1922 - 1923.

      After leaving school, he did customs work for Wellington-based import/export firm J. O'Brien, and after that at Hope Gibbons, also a Wellington firm.

      Joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) in 1942.

      Did his basic training in Rotorua and then left for Canada on the 'Bloemfontein' in August of 1942, where he undertook further training.

      By early 1943 he was with Bomber Command in the United Kingdom.

      On 22 - 23 April 1944, on a bombing mission (Take off: Binbrook, 22:54; Operation: Dusseldorf) with 460 Squadron, the bomber (Lancaster III) was intercepted by a night fighter and shot down from 21,000 feet, crashing at Sythen, 4km NE of Haltern, killing Flight Sergeant Russell Allen (5182) of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

      Collett parachuted to safety but was captured after 3 days. The other five surviving members of the crew were also taken captive.

      Because of wounds sustained during the crash, he was first hospitalised before being sent to Stalag Luft 3 (either Sagan or Belaria). Sagan is remembered for the mass escape of officers in late March of 1944, after which many of those who were recaptured were, on Hitler's orders, handed over to the Gestapo and executed (Chorley, vol 2 p. 220; vol 5 pp. 182, 565.).

      Collett's administrative abilities led to him being given the role of Administrative Officer by his fellow prisoners.

      Was also involved in the infamous 'Death March' during which he fashioned a sled made from a chair. He also managed to obtain 8 food parcels which he shared among his fellow prisoners.

      After liberation by the American forces he was flown back to England, where he spent time in hospital before being repatriated.

      On returning to New Zealand, Collett resumed his customs work by helping out a friend, Paddy O'Callaghan. He was recommended to and subsequently employed by Reid & Reid, a Wellington-based liquor merchant firm. He stayed with them for five years.

      Through a close association with the Williamson family he became the South Pacific Manager for the Shantung Shipping Line. He was Managing Secretary for Miss Liana Williamson (a position requiring extensive world travel).

      Upon the death of Miss Williamson in 1969, Ken Collett retired, aged 61.

      He remained in Wellington until his death on 30 September 1994, aged 86. AWMM
    • Ken Collett served as a navigator on the Lancaster Bomber G for George on the night of 26 March 1944 in a raid on the German city Essen. From his memory, Ken believed this was George's 83rd operation. The aircraft G for George is now on display in the Canberra War Memorial. Public - Phillip John - Other relative - 13 January 2022 - Source: Letter from Ken Collett to Glen Collett dated 18 September 1961.
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About death

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  • Death
    30 September 1994 AWMM
    Age 86 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

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  • External links
  • References
    • Chorley, W. (1993). Royal Air Force Bomber Command losses of the Second World War: Aircraft and crew losses 1941 (Vol. 2). Leicester, England: Midland Counties Publications. AWMM
    • Chorley, W. (1997). Royal Air Force Bomber Command losses of the Second World War (Vol. 5). Leicester, England: Midland Counties Publications. AWMM
    • This record is a work in progress and was partially compiled from the “Database of New Zealand Airmen who took part in Advanced Air Training in Canada during WW2”. Researched by Ivan and Lorna Lindsey of Tauranga. N.Z. 2003 – 2012. Reproduced with permission. AWMM
    • Information kindly provided by family AWMM


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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
13 January 2022Phillip JohnWellingtonOther relative

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