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Thread: NZ40770 S/L E. L. "Nipper' Joyce RNZAF

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    Default NZ40770 S/L E. L. "Nipper' Joyce RNZAF

    Any info re Joyce would be much appreciated as I am writing a book about him at present based on large cache of original wartime letters, documents, photos etc of Joyce's which I have access to.

    Just an additional note. The use of primary material is important in recording the lives and exploits of anyone. In the case of Joyce, a ten victory ace, 9 in Hurricanes, 5 at night, 1 in a Mustang May 1944 (122 sqn) there is little written about him. However, he appears in Shores et al Mediterranean Air War and Stewart's Ten Squadrons of Hurricanes. In both publications he is said to have shot down his own CO at night, S/L Robin Johnston. Shores and Stewart quote that Joyce identified the intruder he was scrambled to intercept as a twin-engine aircraft, a Ju88. They comment on how on earth Joyce could confuse a Ju88 with a Hawker Hurricane and what's more it was his CO Robin Johnston flying it! Stewart writes: "How a pilot of Joyce's experience and ability could have mistaken a single-engined Hurricane for a twin-engined Ju88 is hard to imagine but this he undoubtedly did. And if that was not enough, the Hurricane he shot down was flown by Squadron Leader Johnston".

    Firstly, Joyce's report of this incident in the 73 Sqn ORB Appendices clearly states he identified the aircraft as a single-engine enemy fighter. Thus the aircraft was not thought to be twin-engined. Secondly, the aircraft was not flown by S/L Johnston, it was flown by Sgt Johnson, who survived with lacerations and burns. I hope this incorrect information is not repeated again in future publications.

    Another error in Stewart's book involves the captioned photograph of 940897 Sergeant Donald Roland Beard 73 Squadron... the caption reads: "Flight Sergeant Donald Beard, 73 Squadron's most successful night intruder pilot." This again is incorrect. Ernest Leslie 'Nipper' Joyce while flying with 73 Squadron shot down five Ju88s at night and damaged a Bf110. The press caught on at the time and labelled him the 'Cat's Eyes' of the desert. Beard appears to have shot down a Ju87 and 2 Ju88s at night and additionally damaged a Ju88.

    Joyce's final tally appears to have been: 1 Ju88 damaged (day) with 3 Squadron, Hurricane, 1941. Then 5 Ju88s destroyed(all at night), 2 Bf109s and 2 CR42s destroyed (day), 2 Bf 109s probably destroyed (day), 3 Bf109s damaged, 2 Bf110s damaged (day) 1 Bf110 damaged (night) with 73 Squadron, Hurricanes, North Africa 1941-42. 1 He111 destroyed (day) with 122 Squadron, Mustang III, Frisian Is May 1944. In total 9 destroyed (5 at night), 2 probably destroyed, 8 damaged flying Hurricanes. 1 destroyed flying Mustangs. Thus 10 destroyed, 2 probables and 8 damaged. Not bad for a salesman from Hamilton, NZ in a Hurricane.

    His score in Hurricanes is interesting for the fact his opposition in the Bf109F in North Africa, especially with Hans Joachim Marseilles on the prowl, was similar to Spitfire Vs vs Focke-Wulf 190s, a struggle to survive. Also the five defensive patrol night victories, four in a Hurricane IIc and one in a Hurricane 1 are very hard to achieve in a single-seat fighter with no radar aboard. There is no doubt Nipper's uncanny eyesight both at night and in the day helped him survive and win his battles for so long... 267 sorties.

    Hopefully, finding a publisher being the problem, I will be able to put 'Nipper' Joyce's story out there and at least get some justified recognition of this little-known NZ day and night fighter ace.

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    Default Re: NZ40770 S/L E. L. "Nipper' Joyce RNZAF

    How many of his claims are substantiated by Axis records? And why is this under 'India, Burma & Far East'?

    TIA,
    Bruce
    Last edited by Jagan; 27th December 2022 at 19:46. Reason: Moved to General Category

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    Default Re: NZ40770 S/L E. L. "Nipper' Joyce RNZAF

    Yes, accidentally entered my post re Joyce in the 'India, Burma, Far East' section. Re substantiation through Axis records, this is not easy and fraught with issues like any other incomplete and inaccurate records.

    I have dozens of letters written by Joyce, sent home to family, which outline many of his claims, witnessed by others on the squadron in four daytime claims (1 Bf 109 and two CR42s in North Africa, and He111 Frisian Islands May 1944), for all his night victories wreckage was spotted/found and Joyce witnessed each of the Ju88s crashing. He took souvenirs from two of them. I have his letters, log book and photos of 'kills' shown on his Hurricane and substantiated by 73 squadron ORBs and combat reports. But the ORBs are very inaccurate at times because of the German advance 1942 and the fact 73 Squadron was at times just one step ahead of the German forces and the ORB may well have been written up in retrospect after a change of aerodrome or landing ground.

    There is no evidence to suggest Joyce over-claimed. In his letters, written to his mother all those years ago, he openly enjoys the climbing score, the award of his DFM and the promotions, but he did not appear to brag publicly. However he does remark on some fellow-NZ pilots he knew from his own younger days or knew about through serving with them who did overstate their achievements in the press... the 'line-shooters'. From my experience of talking with WW2 aircrew over the years, quite a number were quite ready and willing to 'shoot a line' to gain a bit more attention and recognition, contrary to what was the supposed RAF code of not doing so.

    My research own comprehensive original Joyce archive and other material tells me Joyce's claims are pretty accurate, but no amount of Allied/Axis record keeping will absolutely confirm that now.

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