Diary of Neil Ralph Blunden RNZAF

I am privileged to have been given permission by the family of Neil Blunden to publish these entries from his diary which was written as he left his homeland (New Zealand) and sailed to the UK, via Canada, as a young airman about to complete his final training before flying over enemy occupied Europe. Neil Blunden was one of many young men who followed a similar path, his diary affords us a glimpse into what life was like for these young men in 1941 and 1942 who travelled so far to give so much and illuminates how the ordinary became the extraordinary.

I am enormously grateful to the Adrian Wallis and the Blunden family for permitting me to share these diary entries with you via this website. I would respectfully request that the text from these diary entries is not copied or distributed in any form, printed or otherwise without first seeking and receiving written permission from the owner of the material who may be contacted via me archieraf@yahoo.co.uk

Linzee Druce, October 2003

Neil joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in June 1940 at the age of 24. He commenced training on September 29th at Levin, continuing at Taieri and Woodbourne. He completed his Advanced Flying Training on March 22nd 1941 and was granted a temporary commission to the rank of Pilot Officer in the RNZAF.

This diary, written in two NZ Government Memorandum Books, describes his daily life from the time he embarked on the MV Awatea on April 29th 1941 until his untimely demise during a bombing raid on the German battleship the'Tirpitz' in Norway on the night of 30/31st March 1942. It leads the reader through his ocean voyage across the Pacific, his trans-Canada rail journey, his dangerous voyage across the Atlantic, further training in England, service as a bomber pilot with 10 Squadron based in Leeming, Yorkshire where he took part in many highly courageous raids over Germany in Whitley bomber aircraft, his subsequent conversion to Halifaxes, and his final mission to Norway to destroy the Tirpitz, from which he did not return. It gives the reader a flavour of the incredibly dangerous times our air force personnel endured.

Adrian Wallis 2003
(Nephew of Neil Blunden)

Foreword in first diary;
If the worst should occur and in consequence I would have no further use for this diary, I wish it to be forwarded to my sister Mrs A T Wallis. Address as follows:- P.O. Box 178 Greymouth, New Zealand.

Foreword in second diary;
I wish this diary to go, along with my other personal effects, to my sister in New Zealand. Mrs A T Wallis, Box 178, Greymouth, Westland, New Zealand (signed) N.R. Blunden P/O RNZAF.

N.R. Blunden
No. NZ 403419, RNZAF
P.O. Box 178
New Zealand

Address in England:
C/O - High Commissioner,
NZ House
415 Strand

Click on the links below to read the diary entries.

30/31st March 1942 - Neil's Last Operation


A.A. Anti-Aircraft
A.C.P. Air Control Pilot
A.M. Air Ministry
A.O.C. Air Officer Commanding
C.G.I. Chief Ground Instructor
C.O. Commanding Officer
Circuits & Bumps Take off and landing practice
Crates Slang for aircraft
Cu. Cumulus (clouds)
D.R. Dead Reckoning
E & A Test Engine and Airframe test
E.F.T.S. Elementary Flight Training School
E.N.S.A. Entertainments National Service Association
Ft. Feet (unit of measurement)
F.T.S. Flight Training School
George Automatic Pilot
H.C.U. Heavy/Halifax Conversion Unit
Hrs. Hours
I.A.S. Indicated Air Speed
L.A.C. Leading Aircraftsman
Link Link Trainer (an early type of flight simulator)
Loop Loop Aerial on aircraft
Lorenze Beam approach landing system
Mls Miles
M.O. Medical Officer
M.T. Motor Transport
O.T.U. Operational Training Unit
P1 1st Pilot
P2 2nd Pilot
P.4 Magnetic Compass
Q.D.M. One of the 'Q' code series - "what is the magnetic course to meet you?"
Q.G.H. One of the 'Q' code series - "may I land using the procedures of descent through cloud?"
R.A.F. Royal Air Force
R.C.A.F. Royal Canadian Air Force
R.N.Z.A.F. Royal New Zealand Air Force
Royal Art. Royal Artillery
R.T.O. Rail Transport Officer
S/C Set Course
T.R.9 Transmitter/Receiver Mk9
U/C Under carriage
U/S Unserviceable
U/T Under Training
W.A.A.F. Woman's Auxiliary Air Force
W.R.N.S. Woman's Royal Naval Service (Wrens)
Yds. Yards (unit of measurement)
Z.Z. Landing Blind landing system using radio transmitted instructions from the ground.

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