1435 Squadron Spitfire IX EN295 Fl/Lt. Rowland
Date: 10th July 1943 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 1435 Squadron. (motto: 'Protect the right') 248 Wing.
Type: Spitfire IX
Base: RAF Luqa, Malta
Location: As shown
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Montague James Rowland NZ/401781 RNZAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Operation Husky was a major campaign of World War II in which the Allies invaded the island of Sicily and took it from the Axis powers. It began with a large amphibious and airborne operation, followed by a six-week land campaign, and initiated the Italian Campaign.
To divert some of the Axis forces to other areas, the Allies engaged in several deception operations, the most famous and successful of which was Operation Mincemeat. Husky began on the night of 9/10 July 1943 and ended on 17 August. Strategically, Husky achieved the goals set out for it by Allied planners; the Allies drove Axis air, land and naval forces from the island and the Mediterranean sea lanes were opened for Allied merchant ships for the first time since 1941.
These events led to the Italian leader, Benito Mussolini, being toppled from power in Italy and leading the way for the Allied invasion of Italy. The German leader, Adolf Hitler, cancelled a major offensive at Kursk after only a week, in part to divert forces to Italy, resulting in a reduction of German strength on the Eastern Front. The collapse of Italy necessitated German troops replacing the Italians in Italy and to a lesser extent the Balkans, resulting in one-fifth of the entire German army being diverted from the east to southern Europe, a proportion that would remain until near the end of the war.
Taking off from Safi at 18:25 hrs from Hal Safi on Malta as part of the squadron's third beach head patrol in support of operation 'Husky'.
Two aircraft failed to return, both victims of Bf109's from JG53. Fl/Lt. Rowland came down in the sea at the location shown, his body was never knowingly recovered. The other Spitfire Vc JL361 was flown by P/O. L.A Stewart also came down in the same location but was rescued by an allied launch.
Burial and personal details:
Fl/Lt. Montague James Rowland. Malta Memorial. Panel 12. Column 1. Born on the 20th of February 1921 in Timaru. Educated at Rongota College. Worked as a clerk for New Zealand Railways. Enlisted at Levin as a pilot under training on the 02nd July 1940. The pilot badge was awarded on 12th December 1940 and commissioned on the 18th of January 1941. With No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School on the 29th of July 1940 with his first solo on the 14th of August 1940. With No. 1 Flying Training School on the 28th September 1940. With the school as a staff pilot on the 16th February 1941. Slightly injured on aircraft accident on the 23rd March 1941. (1) Embarked for England on the 18th December 1941. With No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre on the 10th February 1941. 58 Operational Training Unit on the Spitfire 26th March 1942. Joined 485 squadron on the 25th May 1942 and carried out 18 operational sorties and 1 Air Sea Rescue.
Embarked for Gold Coast via Sierra Leone on 30th July arriving 15th August by Pan American Airlines Dakota to Egypt via Nigeria and Sudan 18-20 August 1942. High Altitude Flight (also known as Spitfire Flight) at Heliopolis on 23rd August 1942 where he carried out 17 operational sorties. With Middle East Training School 12-19th September. Joined 94 squadron Detachment Flight (also known as 'C' Flight) at Shandur and later El Gamil from 30th November flying Spitfires and carried out 19 operational sorties on 12th October 1942.
Overland to Iraq 08-15th January 1943. Joined 119 Maintenance Unit/Test Flight to test and delivery pilot with 43 delivery flights to Iran for the USSR on 15th January 1943. By BOAC flying boat to Cairo on the 04th May 1943. With 206 Group 05th May 1943. With 103 Maintenance Unit on 22nd May 1943 where he carried out a further 9 operational sorties. To Malta on a Dakota on the 22nd May 1943. Joined 1435 squadron where he carried out at least 7 operational sorties and 1 Air Sea Rescue on the 18th June 1943. Credited with 1 enemy aircraft shared destroyed and a further 2 as damaged.
Son of Montague Fritz Rowland (died 1 Feb 1966, age 72) and Emily Rowland (née Yates), of 142 The Parade, Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand. Note: the CWGC website incorrectly states that he was a member of 435 squadron.
Above: L-R: Rear; J.G Grant, Bryan Daniel James Kennedy MZ/401768, P. Souter, J.H Register, Montague James Rowland NZ/401781, B.R.H Sharpe, Gordon Kenneth Williams NZ/401796.
Centre; James Fraser Barron NZ/401749, A.E Lyttle, Keith Campbell Morison Miller NZ/401761, James Bayntun Starky NZ/401787, L.T Weston, Jack Edward Wall NZ/401792, James Allen Ward NZ/401793 (first New Zealander to be awarded Victoria Cross), P.L Stokes.
Front; PP O'Brien, AKE MacEwan, William Wood Weir Burgess NZ/401750, WG McCullough, Robert Francis Watson NZ/401794, Ronald West Taylor NZ/401790. (Courtesy Air Force Museum of New Zealand)
(1) The accident of the Airspeed Oxford involved 3 crew. Crashed at Waimakariri riverbed near Yaldhurst:
P/O. Montague James Rowland - slightly injured, cuts and abrasion to the face. Released after treatment at Christchurch Hospital to RNZAF Wigram Hospital.
LAC. Brian Trevor Shannon NZ/401784 - injuries to upper part of his body. Further treatment at Christchurch Hospital. Born on the 09th July 1913. Gained his 'A' licence on the 01st May 1935 with Manawatu Aero Club. Enlisted at Levin on the 02nd July 1940 as a pilot under training. After training embarked to England on the 29th April 1941. Awarded commission on the 12th April 1941. Member of the Caterpillar Club after baling out over India in April 1944. Survived the war and retired as a squadron leader on the 07th April 1946. Next of kin his wife Ruth Shannon (née Gordon (died 28th November 2012, age 93). Passed away on the 13th January 1995, age 81 - both now rest in Waituna West Cemetery, Manawatū-Whanganui, New Zealand.
LAC. William Papillion Kemp NZ/403550 - slightly injured, cuts and abrasion to the face. Released after treatment at Christchurch Hospital to RNZAF Wigram Hospital. Born on the 01st March 1915 in Russell, Auckland. Enlisted in September 1940. C/O of 487 (NZ) Squadron. Appointed Air Attache, Greece, 1946. Relinquished his commission of wing commander on the 17th April 1947. Awarded DSO and DFC. Retired to Australia, where he pioneered crop spraying and advised the Australian Federal Government and various aerial agencies. Killed 11 km East of Gatton, Australia at 13:30 hrs. on the 11th January 1983 as the result of an aerial crop spraying accident. Piper PA-25 VH-PIK.
(Note, we have a copy of his fatal accident - please contact us for a copy)
Above: L-R: Rear; A.K Saunders, A.J McCracken, J.T.E Matheson, Patrick John Denis Cooney NZ/403961, Huon Andrew Chandler NZ/403944, William Douglas Stuart NZ/403998, Colin John Stirling NZ/403997, Leicester Bond Ware NZ/404007, J.A.G Barthgate.
Centre; L.M Checketts, F.W.H Burney, R.H Higgins, A.D Bayly, Keith Francis Moore NZ/403971, Kenneth Sinclair Blair NZ/40962, William Papillion Kemp NZ/403550, Robert Ellis Stevenson NZ/403996, CB Wareham, James Ellis Smith NZ/402905.
Front; Travis Coburn Goodlet NZ/403546, B.D Christopher, Alistair Tanetoa Parata NZ/403983, B.G Wallace, John Duncan Broadley NZ/403937, S.S Obery, Brian Trevor Shannon NZ/401784. (Courtesy Air Force Museum of New Zealand)
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, Wings over New Zealand Aviation Forum, other sources as quoted below: