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Arthur Lawrence JESSOP
Known as "Chum"

Serial Number: NZA391106
RNZAF Trade: Flight Mechanic
Date of Enlistment: 24th of October 1939
Rank Achieved: Aircraftsman First Class
Flying Hours: nil
Operational Sorties: nil

Date of Birth: 4th of February 1918, at Fielding
Personal Details: Arthur was the son of Arthur and Gladys Mary Jessop, of Kilbirnie, Wellington City. He was educated at Rongotea Public School, where he passed the Procficiency Examination. After leaving school, he was a member of the Frankton Boxing Club, and the Cambridge Tennis Club.

At the time when Arthur applied for enlistment into the RNZAF his current employment was as a mechanic with Messrs J. Ferguson and Sins in Cambridge. Hi's home address was c/- Mrs Wattam of Fencourt, Cambridge, when he enlisted. It is mentioned in the RNZAFA News edition dated Spring 1993 that Arthur was known as "Chum" Jessop.

Service Details: Though Arthur was keen to join the RNZAF prewar, applying for enlistment as early as May 1939, it was not till October 1939 before he entered the service at Hobsonville. He trained there as a Flight Mechanic, and in early February 1940 he was posted to RNZAF Station Ohakea

Details of Death: Arthur was a Flight Mechanic at No. 1 Air Observers School, RNZAF Station Ohakea at the time of his death. On the evening of the 11th of September 1940 he was readying De Havilland DH86 Express NZ553 for flight. While starting the port outer engine a few minutes after 1800hrs, Arthur accidentally walked into the already spinning propeller of the port inner engine, and was killed instantly. Arthur was aged 22. He was the first person to be killed by a turning propellor in the RNZAF.

Buried at: He is buried at Rongotea Cemetery in the Manawatu.

Connection with Cambridge: Arthur had enlisted from Cambridge, having lived at Fencourt before the war and working as a mechanic in the town

Sources: Various editions of the Waikato Independent newspaper; and the Royal New Zealand Air Force Association News magazing dated Spring 1993. Details of this airman's death were sourced from the excellent volumes of 'For Your Tomorrow' by Errol Martyn. See more details on these highly recommended books here

A prewar photo of NZ553 in its Union Airways livery as ZK-AEG. This photo was taken by Cambridge resident Frank Green and is part of the Frank Green Collection at the Cambridge Museum

The Express airliners were used in a variety of roles from maritiime patrol in Fiji (until Hudsons replaced them), training gunners, observers, wireless operators, and several other uses. Sadly no one example of this type of aircraft exists anywhere in the world today.


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