Leonard Matthew KEAT

Serial Number: NZ421062
RNZAF Trade: Pilot (under training)
Date of Enlistment: 1942
Rank Achieved: Leading Aircraftsman
Flying Hours: Unknown, but not too many
Operational Sorties: nil

Date of Birth: 7th of March 1913, at Mercer
Personal Details: Leonard was the son of John Edward and Amy Keat, of Rotorua. He was educated at Hamilton High School, where he had enjoyed football, cricket and swimming.

Leonard was married to Irene Josephine Keat, of Rotorua. After his death, Leonard's widow remarried becoming Mrs Pretty, of Frankton Junction At the time when he applied to join the RNZAF, on the 3rd of June 1941, Leonard was working as a Paymaster Clerk for the Lands and Survey Department in Rotorua.

Service Details: Leonard enlisted for his ground training at RNZAF Levin on the 8th of February 1942, as an APUT, or Airman Pilot Under Training. On the 25th of April 1942 he was posted to RNZAF Rongotai where he was remustered as an Aircrafthand/General Duties. He was also demoted from the rank of Leading Aircraftman to Aircraftman First Class.

A month later he transferred to the Intial Training Wing at Rotorua and continued his training as an APUT, whith his rank reinstated. He completed his ground training in June and was posted to No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School to undergo training to become a pilot, which is where he was when he was killed in an accident

Details of Death: Leonard was training to become a pilot at No 3 Elementary Flying Training School (RNZAF Harewood) in Christchurch. On Monday the 27th of July 1942 he was flying in De Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth II NZ1429 when another of the School's Tiger Moths (NX839) on a solo training flight overtook him at 0945 from the port quarters as it made a left hand turn. They collided and crashed out of control a quarter of a mile east of Harris Field, an auxiliary landing ground at Eyreton, 5 miles north of Harewood. Leonard and his flying instructor, Flying Officer Kenneth Sinclair Blair (NZ40962) were both killed. The pilot from the other Tiger, LAC RB Knight, survived with serious injuries. (He was later killed on the 9th of February 1945 while flying with 630 Sqn RAF).

It was thought that the fact the two aircraft were camouflaged may have contributed to the accident. Leonard was aged 29

Buried at: Leonard was buried in Hamilton East Public Cemetery, at Public Area A6, Row O, Plot 15.  

Connection with Cambridge: Leonard had at some point lived in Cambridge, perhaps when he was going to school in Hamilton. The exact connection has yet to be established, so any information is welcomed, but he is on the Cambridge Cenotaph so has to have lived here at some time.


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