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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R I McChesney


Robert Ian McChesney was born in Auckland, New Zealand on 4th October 1913, the son of Hugh Henry Robert McChesney and Ethel Maud McChesney (nee Brown).

After leaving school he worked as a bricklayer. At the outbreak of war he volunteered for aircrew duties and was accepted as a trainee air gunner.

McChesney went to the Ground Training School at Weraroa on 15th January 1940 and moved on to the Air Observers' School, Ohakea on 19th February for a Lewis gunnery course and air experience.

He sailed for the UK on 23rd March in the SS Akaroa. Initially McChesney was attached to 264 Squadron at Duxford and had three flights in Defiants during the nine days he was there. On 13th June 1940 he was posted to 5 OTU Aston Down where he converted to Blenheims. He was promoted to Sergeant and awarded his air gunner's badge on 5th July and the next day he joined 236 Squadron at Thorney Island.


Above: P/O J Watters (L), McChesney (R)

After thirty-one operational flights McChesney was posted to the newly-reformed 255 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey on 4th December 1940. Flying with P/O Wright in a Defiant on 9th May 1941, McChesney shot down a Ju88, first sighted over Hull and then chased thirty miles out over the North Sea.

McChesney was commissioned in June 1941. When the squadron began to convert to Beaufighters he began retraining as a Radio Observer and on 20th October he qualified. He was posted to 488 Squadron at Church Fenton on 26th July 1942. The squadron moved north to Ayr in September for further training.

On 6th December some Beaufighters of 488 were taking part in an GCI exercise at Ayr. McChesney's Beaufighter IIF V8162 collided with Beaufighter T3385. He and his pilot F/Lt. AC McKinnon RNZAF were killed, as were F/O RJB Peacocke RNZAF and P/O IP Spence in T3385.

McChesney is buried in Ayr Cemetery.




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