Witness to Battle of Britain seeks recognition for Kiwi airmen

Philip Chubb, seen here with a photograph of his NZRAF helicopter pilot grandson Corey Fothergill, would like to see Kiwi airmen who died in WW2 honoured in the UK.

As a child, Cambridge’s Philip Chubb watched the 1940 Battle of Britain rage in the skies above him. Now he would like to see greater recognition afforded the many Kiwi aviators who fought and died in World War II theatres of war.

Philip says 41.5 percent of the total number of New Zealanders who died during World War II were airmen. Over 4000 lost their lives through their attachment to the Royal Air Force and a further 800 plus died with the Fleet Air Arm and with the RNZAF in the South Pacific.  Kiwis were the third biggest contingent of airmen at the Battle of Britain, after the British and Polish aviators.

He would like their contribution to the war effort better acknowledged in Britain, perhaps with a grove of New Zealand native trees and a Wall of Honour naming those who died in air action during WW2.

“I think it is important that the contribution made by Kiwi pilots is not lost,” he said.  “Having a memorial in England, perhaps along the south coast area from which many of them flew, would be a good way to honour them. It could be somewhere New Zealanders could visit when going to the UK.”

Chubb spent much of his boyhood at St Leonards near the English south coast town of Hastings.

“I witnessed first-hand the great air battle … included in my memories of that time are the low-level ‘hit and run’ attacks by German messerschmitts. Later, in the 1950s, first as an ATC cadet then later as a Halton “Trenchard brat” and later still in adult service, I learned more about the practical details of the great air battles of World War II.”

The term ‘Trenchard brats’ was applied to the men who trained at RAF Halton, many of whom went on to serve with distinction during the Battle of Britain.

Chubb later migrated to New Zealand, driving overland in a Morris Minor 1000 from Ostend in Belgium to the south of India, through Sri Lanka to Colombo, then taking the ship to Freemantle and driving across Australia to Sydney.  Once here, he worked in the business arena before retiring in 1990.

While living at Paraparaumu Beach, he became involved in promoting the use of hovercraft in New Zealand. At one stage he was secretary of the Thames/Coromandel branch of the Air Force Association, and of the Sir Keith Park Battle of Britain Memorial Fund. He was involved in the 60th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Britain.

New Zealand-born Air Chief Marshall Sir Keith Park was one of the Battle’s architects and is New Zealand’s most distinguished airmen. A 2.78 metre statue of him was unveiled in London’s Trafalgar Square on September 15, 2010, the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Now in his 80’s and planning a post-Christmas move from Cambridge to Chubb’s, Philip’s interest in aviation matters has been revived as he wades through his extensive collection of paperwork, some of which include his writings for RAF journals.

“The young Kiwi men who flew in those theatres of war, and who lost their lives over there, deserve to be honoured.  My own family has a rich military background, and my grandson is an officer in the New Zealand Air Force.  I think it’s time we pushed for a long-term memorial to our Kiwi aviators before they are forgotten forever.”

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