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Thread: New Zealand Airman.

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    Default New Zealand Airman.

    Hi All,

    Does anyone have any further info on NZ 411617 E.J. Osboldstone? He is a bit of a mystery man from my Rangoon Jail research details. He is mentioned by nickname in a couple of books, but nothing concrete in the way of detail.

    Many thanks.

    Steve.

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    No doubt you have this link:

    http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/sound/pow-camp-conditions-in-burma

    or

    By contrast, Eric Osboldstone 411617, Flying Officer, 27 Squadron RAF, was taken prisoner by the Japanese in December 1944 south of Mandalay, and returned to New Zealand in August 1945
    http://www.mch.govt.nz/publications/history/reviews/inside.html

    and
    http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2-3RAF-c16.html
    Flying Officer E. J. Osboldstone; born Wanganui, 27 Dec 1919; customs clerk; joined RNZAF 10 Mar 1941; prisoner of war, 14 Dec 1944.

    Dennis
    Last edited by dennis_burke; 30th July 2010 at 15:09.
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Hello,

    14-4-1944
    No.27 Sqn.
    Beaufighter T.F.X. NV365 'Y'

    Missing

    NZ411617 P/O (Pilot) E J OSBOLDSTONE RNZAF PoW
    1800382 F/Sgt (Nav./W.Op.) Frank BLUNDEN RAFVR +

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 30th July 2010 at 17:53.

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    Default Osboldstone E.J.

    Hi Gents,

    Many thanks for the brilliant info, I am seriously on a roll with your help on this forum.

    Dennis, I had not seen or indeed heard that audio of him talking about his memories of Rangoon jail, so that was a wonderful surprise and bonus. Having started my research into these POW's from an Army perspective, it has taken me a while to come round to focus on the Airmen.

    Col. You have given me the only piece of info I did not have, that being, the type of aircraft he flew.

    Many thanks once again.

    Steve.

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    Steve,

    Fg Off NZ411617 Eric Jack Osboldstone
    Born Wanganui 27 Dec 1919
    RNZAF 10 Mar 1941 to 20 Nov 1945
    Shot down/PoW on 11th op

    Errol

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    Default Eric Osboldstone

    Hi, Steve,

    I missed your posting at the end of July and am very pleased that I just stumbled upon it. I have a wealth info for you on Eric, including a 2005 letter from him and a copy of his 10 or so page mini-memoir highlighting his RNZAF wartime career, complete with many photos. Well, my photocopy of a copy is hardly ideal, but I'll scan the pages for you. With luck you'll be able to get a better quality copy from Eric himself. He is still listed in the phone book at the same address where I wrote him in the early 1990s...will send you contact details in a few hours, when I get a chance.

    You have probably seen at least two of the three photos of him in the collection of the Australian War Memorial; ID Numbers SEA0243 and 0244 list him by name in the captions. Also, he is unnamed, wearing the hat (and a jacket, unlike in the other two photos), in 0242.

    0243's AWM caption erroneously flips the identities of Lt. John Kerr and Eric's friend and fellow RNZAF pilot/prisoner F/Lt Cliff Emeny RNZAF (a Mossie pilot shot down in Burma, and a Defiant air gunner who survived considerable air combat with 264 Sqn during the Battle of Britain).

    Speaking of Cliff Emeny, Eric O. was the main speaker about 5 years ago at the New Zealand book launching of "The Three Wings, Cliff Emeny's Story" by Tom Woods -- which was based on Tom's extensive interviews with Cliff. It's an excellent book about a fascinating character, with much about Rangoon Jail, and it includes photos 0242 and 0243, with captions. (That's how I know Eric is in 0242...and he is also wearing the same hat and jacket in another photo in the book.)

    Cliff, Eric, and several other ex-Rangoon Jail POWs, including W/Cdr Lionel Hudson RAAF, volunteered to stay behind to organize the repairs on Mingaladon aerodrome (Rangoon's airfield). I have a copy of W/Cdr Hudson's report on this activity -- I bet I sent it to you at some point. The Emeny book provides even more detail.

    I will scan the materials this weekend and will then e-mail you.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Poole View Post
    "The Three Wings, Cliff Emeny's Story" by Tom Woods -- which was based on Tom's extensive interviews with Cliff. It's an excellent book ...
    Matt
    Matt,

    Sadly, I have to disagree with you on this, I'm afraid. I sent in the following letter to the New Zealand monthly mag, 'Pacific Wings' in 2005. They declined to publish it for reasons that I shall not go into here, but my comments are still valid:

    Reviewer Janic Geelen in your August issue describes Tom Woods’ recently published biography of Cliff Emeny, The Three Wings, as ‘a magnificent job in telling it as it was’ and that it ‘excels in the little details about the people cliff met’, and endorses it unconditionally as being ‘highly recommended’.

    To the contrary, this work regrettably contains copious errors and promotes many old and long ago discredited myths, such as the claim that the RAF’s daytime Defiant operations on one occasion shot down 37 ‘enemy bombers [sic]’ without losing a plane’. Most of the photographs are poorly reproduced and some strangely captioned - e.g. Vilderbeeste 111 [sic], while Blenheims are described as Beauforts (ironically pictured on a Valentine’s ‘aircraft recognition’ card).

    Woods’ account appears to be little more than a verbatim record of interviews conducted when his subject was in his 80th year. As historians well know, reliance on such ancient though sincerely held memories is always fraught with danger, especially when an author fails to carry out elementary research and cross checking.

    Of particular concern to me, as compiler of volumes on casualties, is an entry on page 179 where Emeny tells of the death in a Mosquito training accident of ‘a young New Zealand pilot’ of 45 Squadron who ‘hadn’t been very well trained’. Albeit unnamed in the book, the man referred to is easily identified as Flight Lieutenant John Harper Reeves of Hororata. Though ‘young’, Reeves was in fact only six weeks Emeny’s junior and prior to enlistment had been nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship. He was a very experienced pilot with over 1500hrs to his credit (including almost a year as flying instructor), some 160 being on the Mosquito, including a long ferry flight out from the UK to India. Emeny’s memory further played him false in stating Reeves came from Rakaia and that he crashed ‘on his first run’ (it was the second) and ‘into the target’ (he didn’t).

    There is a similar account earlier on regarding the accidental death of 45 Squadron’s CO, Wing Commander Stumm, also in a Mosquito; again the implication (and again the pilot unnamed) is that pilot error was solely to blame. No mention is made of the fact that Stumm’s aircraft was observed both from the air and on the ground to suffer catastrophic structural failure. The Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Far East, no less, in his remarks upon the Court of Inquiry’s findings of pilot error regarding Reeves’ crash, was of the view that in light of more recent investigations into Mosquito losses the possibility of structural failure also could not be completely disregarded as its cause.

    Woods, though listing in his bibliography ‘Jeff’ Jefford’s splendid RAF Squadrons, is apparently not only unaware of that author’s 546-page masterful history of 45 Squadron (with which Emeny served for some nine months) but also his authoritative survey therein of the wooden Mosquito’s tragic history of structural failure in the testing tropical conditions prevailing in the Far East. Reeves’ family, in particular, would have every right to feel aggrieved here at the author’s lack of checking the facts regarding the loss of their loved one.

    Cliff Emeny was undoubtedly a courageous and determined airman who had a remarkable and exciting wartime career – indeed a life that should be the subject of a worthy biography. Sadly, The Three Wings falls far short of this.

    Errol

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    Hi, Errol,

    I stand corrected, in a major way, and I appreciate your precise historian's eye very much. I'd rushed off my last posting and admittedly chose the wrong word in describing the Emeny book. The kinds of errors you described are regrettable, indeed, especially in light of the fact that many details could have been readily checked by the author (who is a longtome Emeny family friend).

    I am reminded of a comment on the historian's dilemma in using eyewitness accounts and memoirs. The quote which follows comes from author Tom Huntington in a 1992 Air&Space Magazine article entitled “Who Shot Down Admiral Yamamoto?” The controversy over which American P-38 Lightning pilot or pilots should rightfully be credited with destroying Yamamoto's bomber is based upon conflicting evidence dating mostly to 1943. Tom Huntington wrote:

    "Human beings, as inconsistent and difficult as they can be, are history's raw material, and the close scrutiny given to the Yamamoto mission has demonstrated how fallible that material can be.

    Memory is a complex web of perception and desire. As a tool for reconstructing the past, it has limits."

    I have found that Cliff Emeny's Rangoon Jail-related material (a topic in which I am fairly well versed) is rich in detail and anecdotes. Pertaining to Eric Osboldstone, it is also a particularly useful source. All taken with a proverbial grain of salt, though.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Gents,

    Thanks for all your worthy responses and I look forward to your info Matt.

    Steve.

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    Default Wow

    What a fascinating thread. This is why I love this forum because you dont just get the straight forward stuff it goes off and gives you so much more!
    Dee

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