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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. C C Reilly


Charles Christopher Reilly was born in Auckland on 15th May 1913, the son of Charles Augustus and May Emily Reilly.

He attended Te Awamutu District High School and afterwards worked as a hardware assistant.

He volunteered for aircrew duties in late September 1939. Reilly reported to the Ground Training School, Weraroa on 13th February 1940, going a month later to the Air Observers' School, Ohakea, for a gunnery course.

He sailed for the UK in the RMS Rangitiki on 26th April. After a period at No. 1 RAF Depot, Uxbridge, Reilly was posted to 5 OTU, Aston Down, where he was awarded his air gunner's badge after further training.

He joined 23 Squadron at Ford on 21st September 1940. Reilly was with the squadron until early March 1942 when he was posted to 116 Squadron at Hooton Park, flying in Lysanders on radar calibration duties. In May he went to 1653 Conversion Unit, Polebrook for crewing-up and conversion to Liberators.

Commissioned in June, Reilly joined 1445 Flight, Ferry Command at Lyneham and he flew in a Liberator on a delivery flight to Egypt, returning as a passenger in various civil aircraft, including a Boeing Clipper.

On 16th October 1942 Reilly left the UK to join 160 Squadron at Aqir, Palestine, flying in a Liberator intended for squadron use. He arrived on the 19th and on the 27th took off on a night operational flight to Crete, from which the aircraft failed to return.

Radio contact was lost in the early hours of 28th October and the crew is officially presumed to have been lost on that date. Another member of the crew was New Zealander P/O CR Durrant. He and Reilly had been together from the day they joined up. After the war Reilly's remains were re-interred in the Suda Bay Military Cemetery, Crete.

He was killed flying in Liberator II AL548 'R' of No 160 Sqn, which was shot down near the target on a night raid against Maleme airfield.

The other crew members, all of whom were killed, were:

F/Lt. RS Lawrence
P/O CR Durrant RNZAF
F/Sgt. J Gibbons
F/Sgt. HV Ellerker
F/Sgt. PE Harwood
F/Sgt. DA Donaldson RAAF




Above photos courtesy of Eni from Heraklion via J Keith Baker.

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