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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R Holder


Robert Holder was born on 16th April 1917 at Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, the son of Charles and Kate Holder.

He was educated at Stratford-on-Avon Grammar School.

He went to New Zealand in 1938 and was employed on a farm at Hicks Bay, Gisborne. At the outbreak of war Holder volunteered for pilot training in the RNZAF and he reported to Ground Training School at Weraroa on 19th November 1939.


In December he was posted to 2 FTS New Plymouth and moved to 2 FTS Woodbourne on 11th March 1940. Holder completed his training at the end of June and was promoted to Sergeant.

He sailed for the UK on 12th July in the RMS Rangitane, arriving on 27th August. After a spell at No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge he was posted on 11th September 1940 to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge, where he converted to Hurricanes.

On 30th September Holder joined 151 Squadron at Wittering.

In the evening of 26th October he was one of a group practising night circuits and landings at Coleby Grange. The Hurricane ahead of him took off but crashed and burst into flames, some 500 yards beyond the windward boundary. This was Hurricane V7434, the pilot Sgt. DO Stanley RNZAF was seriously injured and died the next day.

The flight commander asked Holder if he was alright and said that he would be permitted to abandon his flight should he wish to. Holder said he would go and the flight commander checked his gyro to see that it was uncaged.

The Hurricane, R4184, took off and shortly afterwards went into a left-hand turn and flew into the ground 800 yards beyond the first crash.

Holder was killed.

He is buried in Bidford-on-Avon Cemetery.




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