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Derek Harland Ward

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Allegiance  New Zealand
Name  Derek Ward

Died  June 17, 1942, Egypt
Rank  Squadron leader
Service/branch  Royal New Zealand Air Force/Royal Air Force
Commands held  151 Squadron 73 Squadron
Battles/wars  World War II Battle of France Battle of Britain North African Campaign
Awards  Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar
Battles and wars  Battle of France, Battle of Britain, North African Campaign, World War II
People also search for  Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria

Derek Harland Ward, (31 July 1917 – 17 June 1942) was a New Zealand flying ace of the Second World War. He was credited with six kills, one shared destroyed, one probable and four damaged against the Luftwaffe. Ward was shot down and killed by the German ace Hans-Joachim Marseille. Among his notable victories was a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, destroyed on 1 May 1942.


Early life

A doctor's son, Ward was born in Whangarei on 31 July 1917. After obtaining his pilot's licence in April 1937, he joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

RAF career

After flight training, Ward sailed to Britain in April 1938 to serve with the Royal Air Force (RAF). On 1 June 1938 Ward was granted a short service commission as a pilot officer. In mid-June 1938 he was posted to No. 151 Squadron RAF, a unit which saw no action in the early part of the Second World War.

Following the start of the German blitzkrieg in May 1940, Ward and five other pilots delivered new Hurricanes to No. 87 Squadron RAF in France. Following high casualties Ward and the other pilots remained with No. 87 Squadron, flying on operations. On 18 May Ward destroyed a Henschel 126 and the next day damaged a Do 17.

On 20 May any aircraft still serviceable with the squadron were ordered back to the United Kingdom. Ward took a Hurricane with no gunsight and few working instruments. Attempting to land in northern France to refuel, he saw fires in the town nearby as two Dorniers were making a bombing attack on the aerodrome. Attacking, he scoring hits on one and chased off the other. Ward was then attacked by Bf 109’s, and managed to land. After refuelling he took off and low over the Channel ran into more Bf 109’s. Ward dived to low level and reached Debden safely.

During the Battle of Britain No. 87 Squadron was heavily engaged in the South West and on the Southern coast approaches. On 15 August 1940 Ward claimed a Bf 110 destroyed. In winter of 1940 the squadron continued night patrols and intruder attacks against airfields in France. Ward was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in October 1941.

Ward was posted overseas in September 1941 and took command of No. 73 Squadron RAF in Egypt on night defence duties. Ward commanded a detached Flight operating in the Western Desert with 'Whitforce'. Flying bomber-escorts, offensive sweeps and attacks on enemy airfields, on 8 December 1941 he destroyed a Ju 88.

By early 1942 Ward was often flying several sorties a day. He destroyed an He 111 on 9 February and probably a Bf 109 four days later. On 1 May 1942, while strafing Barce airfield at night, Ward saw a four-engined aircraft – probably a FW 200 Condor- and shot it down in flames. He was awarded a Bar to his DFC for this action.

In early June 1942 the squadron returned to day operations.

Last battle

Ward was sent with his unit to Egypt and participated in the North African Campaign. Around midday on 17 June 1942, Ward's squadron was returning to base, very low on fuel, when they were attacked by Messerschmitt Bf 109s from Jagdgeschwader 27. Two Hawker Hurricanes were shot down and their pilots bailed out. Most of the Squadron had not noticed this and landed, but according to Allied reports, Ward returned to protect the pilots in their parachutes only to be shot down and killed. According to the German report of the action:

Around midday four Bf 109s ran into ten Hurricanes and approximately 20 Curtiss planes in the air between Gambut and Ras Azeiz. Oberleutnant Marseille was the first to dive into a thick crowd of enemy fighters and shot one of them down on his first pass. As he was breaking to shake an enemy off his tail, another plane flitted across his gunsight. Marseille fired immediately and this opponent, too, fell burning. He then sighted four fighters flying in a defensive circle protecting their fellow pilot[s] in the chute harness. Marseille shot down two more out of the Lufbery circle.

Ward is buried at Plot 1 C 10 at the Halfaya Sollum War Cemetery, Egypt.


Derek Harland Ward Wikipedia

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