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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. A W Canham


Arthur William Canham was born on 21st October 1921 in South Africa, the family later settled near Ipswich in Suffolk.

His family are unsure of the chronology of events but he won a scholarship to Ipswich Boys Grammar School but may have been unable to take it up as being an eldest son he was expected to work with his father, who sailed barges along the East Coast and Thames Estuary.

He also served an electrical apprenticeship but this may have been after his discharge from the RAF.

Canham enlisted in the RAF on 25th October 1939 as an Aircrafthand. He later applied for aircrew duties and remustered as a u/t Air Gunner.



After a gunnery course at 5 BGS Jurby he joined 600 Squadron at Manston in May 1940 and served with it throughout the Battle of Britain.

With the advent of the Beaufighter and airborne radar, the air gunners were posted away from the squadron in January 1941. Canham went to 11 OTU Bassingbourn and afterwards joined 9 Squadron at Honington, flying as a rear gunner in Wellingtons.



In August 1942 the squadron converted to Lancasters. Canham was discharged from the RAF on 9th February 1943, following an operation at the RAF Hospital Ely for the removal of splintered bone from his head and a badly-perforated ear drum.

He then worked as an electrician, often on the airfields in Suffolk, his family remember him returning home suffering from cold in the winters of 1946/7.

In 1952 Canham emigrated to New Zealand, sailing from Glasgow on the ss Captain Cook on 19th August 1952.

He died on 10th January 1990 in Kaiapoi, Christchurch there.

Images courtesy of Jane Canham-Bell.


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