The Airmen's Stories - P/O W T Eiby
William Thorpe Eiby was born in Christchurch on 23rd November 1914. He obtained his 'A' licence at Masterton and joined the Civil Reserve of Pilots. After the outbreak of war, the RNZAF made up courses of short service commission candidates and Civil Reserve pilots. Eiby reported to the Ground Training School at Weraroa on 20th November 1939.
He moved to 2 EFTS New Plymouth on 18th December and was posted to 2 FTS Woodbourne on 8th March 1940. Eiby was awarded his flying badge on 14th May and commissioned in late June.
Above; 245 Squadron
P/O D S Yapp, P/O D J Spence, P/O G E Hill, P/O G Marsland, P/O A L Hedges, P/O J Redman, P/O K B McGlashan, P/O W T Eiby.
P/O J S Southwell, F/Lt. J A Thomson, P/O D Whitley, F/O N J Mowat, P/O G L Howitt.
P/O D A Pennington, Sgt. R W E Jarrett, P/O R I Chaffe.
He sailed for the UK in the RMS Rangitane on 12th July and arrived there on 27th August.
Eiby was at No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge until 10th September when he was posted to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge. After converting to Hurricanes he joined 245 Squadron at Aldergrove on the 30th.
He moved to 73 Squadron on 6th November 1940 and soon afterwards he embarked on the carrier HMS Furious for the Middle East. The squadron flew off at Takoradi on the 29th and then flew in easy stages to Heliopolis, via lagos, Accra, Kano, Maidugari, Khartoum, Wadi Haifa and Abu Sueir. During December the pilots were attached to 274 Squadron in the Western Desert.
On 5th March 1941 Eiby destroyed an enemy aircraft. He was posted away to No. 1 ADU Cairo in early May and returned to 73 Squadron on 1st December.
Eiby was shot down near Tobruk on 13th February 1942. He made a forced-landing in the desert, escaping with a few shell splinter scratches.
On 28th February 1942 Eiby left 73 Squadron and returned to No. 1 ADU. Before he was posted back to New Zealand on 19th January 1943, he had made sixteen ferry flights across Africa, each averaging four days, starting at Takoradi and ending at Cairo. This was an easier way to get aircraft to the Western Desert than through the Mediterranean or round the Cape, avoiding the risk of sinkings at sea. The aircraft generally flew in groups of six or eight, this having been found to be the best number as far as refuelling and navigational arrangements were concerned.
Eiby reached New Zealand in early March 1943. He did a series of staff jobs until 8th November when he was posted to the Catalina Conversion Flight at lauthia Bay, Fiji.
He joined 6 (Flying Boat) Squadron at Halavo Bay, Florida Island on 23rd December 1943. Eiby returned to New Zealand in early July 1944 and in mid-December he joined 40 (Transport) Squadron at Whenuapai, flying Dakotas. By 1946 the squadron was on civil work and service operations.
Eiby was released from the RNZAF on 12th February 1947 and joined the National Airways Corporation when it was formed later in the year. He retired in 1970.
Eiby died in 1995.