WONZ 175 – Harold Kelsey – Navigator

Guest: Harold Raymond Kelsey (NZ4213900, Pilot Officer, Royal New Zealand Air Force)

Host: Dave Homewood

Recorded: 19th of January 2018

Released: 27th of February 2018

Duration: 1 hour 46 minutes 46 seconds

This episode is a conversation with Harold Kelsey, who was an RNZAF Navigator during WWII. He served operationally on Grumman TBF-1c Avengers at Bougainville with No 30 Squadron and No. 31 Squadron. He then joined a Lockheed Ventura crew with No. 2 (BR) Squadron at RNZAF Station Gisborne, followed by a posting to No. 8 (BR) Squadron at RNZAF Station Whenuapai. At the same station he moved onto No. 9 (BR) Squadron, and after a period he moved up to Nausori in Fiji with that unit. And his final posting was to Los Negros with No. 4 (BR) Squadron.

Above: Harold Kelsey in January 2018 (photo Dave Homewood)

Harold has a special upstairs room with all his books, models and other memorabilia from a long, well lived life. Here he proudly points to a 1/48th scale model of his Grumman Avenger, built for him by Wally Hicks.

Harold sits in his special upstairs room looking out of the large window, and ponders the past

The amazing view that Harold is looking at out that window. He suffers from glaucoma these days but he assured me he an still just make out the view.

A shot taken through a glass frame of Harold, right, receiving his Navigator’s brevet in Canada

The Auckland Weekly News spread that Harold mentioned. He is in the photo in the centre row with his crew mates P/O Frank Holmes and F/Sgt Arch Alexander. This scan is via the Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19440628-19-2

An RNZAF Avenger at Espiritu Santo in 1944 (Air Force Museum of New Zealand Official, via Wikipedia)

A photo of No. 8 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron with a Lockheed Ventura behind. Harold and his crew are marked in the front row

Some photos of a model of Harold’s Lockheed Ventura, built by Wally Hicks

The music at the end is ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ by Benny Goodman And His Orchestra

2 comments to WONZ 175 – Harold Kelsey – Navigator

  • So interesting… thanks for sharing.
    My British Father said hed been to N.Z. after or during the war years.
    Have been unable to find where or when….
    Eric G. Barnes Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.
    Regular soldier from 1936… from India and Azbekistan,
    Singapore, captured Malaya,Thai Burma Rail, Hell Ship to Japan, worked in mines.
    Liberated Sep 1945.
    Btitain Nov 45….

    • Dave Homewood

      Thanks Janice. I wonder if he came to New Zealand with the repatriated POW’s to recuperate before heading home. The RNZAF Douglas C-47 Dakotas of No. 41 Squadron did a lot of flights into Singapore and other places picking up the freed POW’s at war’s end.

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