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The Airmen's Stories - F/O A A Gawith


Alan Antill Gawith was born in Masterton, North Island on 9th May 1916. He was educated at Wellington and Nelson and studied law at Victoria College from 1935 to 1937. He was working for a law firm in Wellington when he applied for an RAF short service commission in November 1937.

Gawith was provisionally accepted and sailed for the UK in the RMS Arawa on 20th May 1938. He went to 11 E&RFTS Perth on 27th June for his initial training, after which he went to No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge for a short course.



In early September 1938 Gawith moved to 6 FTS Little Rissington for intermediate and advanced training. On completion he joined 23 Squadron at Wittering on 15th April 1939. Gawith was still with the squadron at the start of the Battle of Britain.

Flying from Ford in the evening of 10th October 1940, Gawith damaged a Ju88 south of Worthing and in the evening of the 14th he damaged an unidentified enemy aircraft off the South Coast.

On 8th March 1941, on an intruder flight over Beauvais aerodrome, he damaged a He111 and a Do17.
In a bombing attack in early May Gawith destroyed the entire telephone communication system of the German bomber group at Deurne near Eindhoven.

Awarded the DFC (gazetted 15th May 1941), he was posted in June to command 1451 Flight at Hunsdon, operating with Turbinlite Havocs.

In December 1941 Gawith was rested and in January 1942 he was posted to HQ 9 Group at Preston as Ops Night. He went to the RAF Staff College Gerrards Cross for a course in August 1943 and afterwards joined the staff at HQ ADGB, to work on the invasion plans of Europe.

In mid-April 1944 Gawith became Senior RAF Liaison Officer at the US 9th Air Defence Command, with the rank of Acting Wing Commander.

He crossed to France on 26th June, spent six weeks in the Cherbourg beach-head area and remained with the Americans until December 1944. On the 20th he took command of RAF Cleave.

Gawith, who had transferred to the RNZAF on 1st January 1944, returned to New Zealand in October 1945 and went on to the Reserve in January 1946.

He resumed his law studies and after qualifying in 1949 he joined the family firm of solicitors in Masterton.

On 2nd August 1949 he received the Bronze Star (US) from the American ambassador in Wellington for meritorious service in 1944.

Gawith died on 8th March 2013.

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