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The Airmen's Stories - F/O J T Strang


John Talbot Strang was born in Invercargill, South Island on 25th January 1914 and educated at Timaru Boys High School. He obtained his 'A' licence privately at the Canterbury Aero Club.

In March 1937 Strang applied for a short service commission in the RAF. He was provisionally accepted and sailed for the UK in the RMS Remuera on 17th February 1938.


Above: six New Zealanders on the RMS Remuera L to R: W/Cdr. Douglas Robert Bagnall, P/O Roy Bradney Bould, F/O John Talbot Strang, S/Ldr. Peter Wynn Mason West, P/O Ian Ronald Gow, F/O Maurice Craig Kinder.

Above image courtesy of Graham Bould via Auckland Museum.




Strang began his initial training course at No. 1 E&RFTS Hatfield on 4th April. After a short induction course at No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge, he was posted to 5 FTS Sealand on 18th June. With his training completed, Strang joined the staff at 7 AOS on 1st August 1939 as a staff pilot.

He was posted to 92 Squadron at Croydon on 10th December 1939. He arrived at 11 Group Pool St. Athan on the 28th and after converting to Hurricanes was posted to No. 2 Ferry Pilot Pool on 25th January 1940. Strang moved to 253 Squadron at Northolt on 22nd February.

In May the squadron began ferrying Hurricanes to France and 'A' Flight was detached there on 18th May 1940, based at Poix. Strang was in this flight and took part in the actions fought there following the German invasion of France.

He was reported 'Missing' on 18th May, having been shot down in Hurricane N2545 in combat with Me110s and did not rejoin 253 until the 21st. On the 23rd Strang destroyed two Me109s in the Merville area. After suffering heavy losses, the flight was withdrawn on 24th May.

Strang served with 253 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain.

He was posted away on 13th December 1940 to CFS Upavon for an instructors course. He went to 6 FTS Little Rissington on 11th February 1941, remaining there until 26th July, when he was sent to instruct in South Africa.

Strang was initially at 21 Air School and then at 25 Air School. He was posted to Middle East Command on 28th February 1942 but his time there was short and he went on to India on 23rd March.

His service is unrecorded up until 16th April 1943, when he was appointed to command 23 Ferry Control. He became CGI at No. 1 EFTS at Secunderabad in 1944 and he left India on 4th January 1945.

Strang returned to the UK and in late April he was repatriated to New Zealand.

He was posted to 42 Squadron at Rongotai as a supernumerary. He transferred to the Reserve on 3rd November 1945.

Strang died on 17th July 1979.


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