WONZ 227 – Alistair Marshall and Tony Williams

Guests: Alistair Marshall, and Sidney Arthur “Tony” Williams

Host: Dave Homewood

Recorded: Al recorded 10th of September 2020, Tony recorded 8th of August 2018

Released: 11th of September 2020

Duration: 1 hour 4 minutes 29 seconds

In this “MOSQUITO SPECIAL” episode Dave Homewood talks first with Al Marshall, the team leader of the exciting current move of the world famous Mapua de Havilland Mosquito NZ2336. The aircraft was saved and stored for six decades by John Smith. Following John’s death in August 2019, his family have decided the Mosquito should go on public display in the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, Blenheim. Al has been put in charge of the team of volunteers who will be moving the precious Mosquito from Mapua, west of Nelson, the 180 km trek east to Omaka Aerodrome in coming weeks. He is also running the programme to clean up and repaint the aircraft to prepare it for public display. He talks about the project and also about their Omaka Warbird Rescue Givealittle fundraiser to help make this happen, and the new Facebook group where you can follow the events. Links to both are below on this page.

Following the brief chat with Al (which will continue in the next episode) Dave then presents an interview with Tony Williams, who joined the RNZAF in 1945. He flew ten hours in Tiger Moths before the war ended and he was demobbed. However he rejoined the Air Force in 1948 as a Navigator trainee. He completed training as a Navigator-Wireless Operator in Avro Ansons at the Air Navigation School at Wigram. He was then posted to No. 14 Squadron at Ohakea to continue operational training in the Airspeed Oxfords.

In February 1950 Tony was posted to No. 75 Squadron where he would become a Navigator-Wireless Operator on the de Havilland Mosquito fighter-bombers.

Tony remained with the squadron through till February 1952, when he then underwent an instructor’s course at the Air Navigation School at Wigram. He began instructing at that school in May 1952, but in July 1952 he joined the Devon Ferry Unit, who went to Britain to ferry one of the new de Havilland Devons to New Zealand for the RNZAF. He and F/O Innes ferried Devon NZ1806 From Hatfield in England to New Zealand. This took up July through to September 1952.

More instructing at the ANS followed and then Tony returned to England for his second Devon Ferry, this time he and F/Lt Jeffs ferried NZ1813 to New Zealand. That took in January to April 1953.

Following a brief return to ANS, Tony then got his original wish to return to training as a pilot. He was posted to the Grading School at RNZAF Station Taieri to fly Tiger Moths, and then the Flying Training School at Wigram on Harvards. On completing his flying training Tony was selected to become a flying instructor so did a Central Flying School instructing course, and then from July 1954 he was instructing at the Flying Training School.

In April 1955 he was posted back to the Central Flying School, now as an instructor, to train pilots how to instruct others. During his time there he was sent to Australia to undergo a course at the RAAF’s School of Air/Land Warfare.

In May 1957 Tony was posted to the Fighter Operational Conversion Unit at Ohakea to undergo a course on flying the Vampire fighter jet. And the following month he joined No. 75 Squadron on the same station, now flying Vampires operationally. He became a part time member of the FOCU staff too, training other pilots in between his regular squadron duties.

In January 1958 Tony became one of the first two RNZAF pilots selected to fly the English Electric Canberra bomber. They travelled to England and underwent conversion at No. 231 Bomber Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Coningsby. Once he was trained up on the type Tony began the ferry flight of leased Canberra T.4 WD963 from the UK out to Tengah, Singapore, where with No. 75 Squadron RNZAF he was involved in the Malayan Emergency conflict.

In January 1961 Tony became the new commanding officer at the Central Flying School in Wigram. When it looked like he would end up in a desk job eventually, he decided to leave the RNZAF where he moved to Air New Zealand. There he flew the Lockheed Electras, and the Douglas DC-8’s.

Tony Williams at his Wings parade (Tony Williams photo)
Tony Williams climbing into an Airspeed Oxford with No. 14 Squadron RNZAF
(Tony Williams photo)
A No. 14 Squadron RNZAF Oxford, AX-A (Tony Williams photo)
No. 75 Squadron RNZAF Mosquitoes lined up (Tony Williams photo)
One of the two Devons that Tony ferried to New Zealand (Tony Williams photo)
Devon Ferry Unit members (Tony Williams photo)

Quick Links:

•  Omaka Warbird Rescue Givealittle

•  Omaka John Smith Mosquito Project Facebook Group

•  The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

NB: The interlude music is 05 January by Kai Engel, and the music at the end of this episode is Wild Flower by Joakim Karud

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