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Vernon Buchanan McKenzie

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Vernon Buchanan McKenzie 1944

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  • Title
  • Forenames
    Vernon Buchanan AWMM
  • Surname
    McKenzie AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    WWII 412794 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    7 October 1921 RNZAF Embarkation Roll (R17845762) FeildingManawatu-Wanganui RNZAF Embarkation Roll (R17845762)
  • 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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Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Embarkation details
    WW2 Vessel was Awatea AWMM

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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Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Sergeant Vernon McKenzie was stationed with 51 Squadron at Snaith, Yorkshire. He was on board a Halifax II (DT666/T) which was part of a raid on Essen, Germany. This raid involved 348 aircraft of which 24 were lost. On returning to base at 0025 hours the plane flew an erratic circuit on going around again. During the circuit the nose momentarily struck the ground and the starboard inner engine failed, following which the plane stalled and crashed just north of the airfield at Shortlands Farm, near Carlton. Three of the crew died, the four who survived were all injured.

    He survived this crash and returned to New Zealand after the war. However, he drowned in the Wanganui River not long afterwards. Mr Ivor Clare tried to rescue him. He was aged 24 years at the time of his death. He was employed by the Bank of New South Wales, Taumarunui.

    An account of the accident was written in 2005 by Mr Alfred Lunn, a farmer, who rushed to the scene of the crash and helped rescue the survivors. It was send to Mr Basil Williams in Auckland. It reads:

    'To Mr Basil Williams - or Rear Gunner

    Just a few lines to let you know more about the Halifax Bomber crashing near to us. I shall never forget that night (the night of 3/4 April 1943). My wife and I were in bed, when there was an almighty noise quite near. I jumped out of bed and all the field was alight and the searchlight lads running and shouting. I then realised what had happened and got dressed and ran to them. The heat was unbearable. We found you [Basil Williams] in a ditch in the turret some 200 yards from the burning plane. We took you into one of the army huts and sat you on a chair near the stove as your feet were wet and cold. I then joined Bombardier ? and we lifted part of the plane up to get the pilot out, but the heat was so intense that we had to let go. All my eyelashes and eyebrows were burned off. I then helped to carry the survivors to the roadside to be picked up by the Air Force truck. I then ran to see to you, and your feet were too hot near the stove so I pulled the chair back with you sitting on it. We then took Bill Kemp, the Flight Engineer into our house. My wife cleaned a big cut on his head and made him a cup of tea. We had no milk for the tea only what was in the milk cows, so my wife and Bert Hogward one of the soldiers went to the cow shed to milk a cow to get some milk. We weren't allowed to show a light on account of the German bombers so one had to strike matches while the other milked the cow.

    The injured were then picked up and we could go back to bed at 4am. I went back to the crash site two days later and I found either a burned foot or a hand. I think a hand. I rang Snaith [51 Squadron] HQ about it and they asked me if I could bury it. So I buried it in the garden.

    Going back to the survivors, one of them had a broken leg and the bone was sticking through his flying boot. I daresay that was Don Farely the Bomb Aimer as he had to have his leg amputated. May I say that you seem to have had a rough time in the Air Force, what crashing and prisoner, but thank God you survived.

    yours truly,

    Alfred E. Lunn AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
  • 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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  • I am a local Historian and live close to the crash site. We are staging a Memorial Service on the 2nd April 2023 to commemorate the brave young men who, some sadly met their fete 80 years ago. Local Dignitaries will be present, along with relatives of the rescuers. It is hoped to film the event. event. We have juts recently placed a memorial plaque at our War Memorial, and little was known about this Air Crash, but some interesting information has come to hand.
    Public - Helen - Researcher - 2 March 2023



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  • External links
  • References
    • 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
    • List of RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Personnel - Embarkation Lists, November 1940 - July 1942. Archives New Zealand, Wellington (R17845762). AWMM


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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
02 March 2023Helen SELBYResearcher
12 October 2022NicolaRongotea, Manawatu, New ZealandOther relative

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