|THE VICTORIA CROSS AWARDED TO SERGEANT JAMES ALLEN WARD, 75 SQUADRON ( RAF ) RNZAF, WHICH HAD BEEN ON LOAN TO THE RNZAF BASE OHAKEA, NEW ZEALAND, HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN BY THE FAMILY.|
|3 March 2006|
( select to enlarge )
|Medal entitlement of Sergeant James Ward,
75 Squadron, Royal Air Force ( RNZAF )
|The Victoria Cross and other medals awarded to Sergeant James Ward, which had been in the care and on loan to the Royal New Zealand Air Force since 1988, were handed back to the Ward family by Air Vice Marshal John Hamilton at a ceremony held on Friday, 3rd March 2006, at the RNZAF Base Ohakea.
However, later this month the VC medal group will have a new home in the Auckland War Memorial Museum. James Ward's great great nephew, the guardian of the group, made the decision to display the medals in the Auckland Museum to allow family members better access to them and to allow New Zealanders to become more familiar with James Ward's heroic VC action in 1941.
For the award of the Victoria Cross
[ London Gazette, 5 August 1941 ], Over the Netherlands, 7 July 1941, Sergeant James Allen Ward, 75 Squadron ( RAF ), Royal New Zealand Air Force.
On the night of 7th July 1941, Sergeant Ward was second pilot of a Wellington returning from an attack on Munster. When flying over the Zuider Zee at 13,000feet, the aircraft was attacked from beneath by a Messerschmitt which secured hits with cannon shell and incendiary bullets. The rear gunner was wounded in the foot but delivered a burst of fire which sent the enemy fighter down, apparently out of control. Fire then broke out near the starboard engine and, fed by petrol from a split pipe, quickly gained an alarming hold and threatened to spread to the entire wing. The crew forced a hole in the fuselage and made strenuous efforts to reduce the fire with extinguishers and even the coffee in their vacuum flasks, but without success. They were then warned to be ready to abandon the aircraft.
James Ward died on 15th September 1941, only ten weeks after his VC action, after his Wellington bomber was hit by flak over the target and caught fire. Only two of the five crew survived, Ward was not of them. It was his 11th sortie, 5th as captain. He is buried in the Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery Ohlsdorf, Hamburg, Germany. James Ward's Victoria Cross was presented to his brother by the Governer General of New Zealand, at Government House, Wellington, on the 16th October 1942.
James Ward's Victoria Cross was presented to his brother by the Governer General of New Zealand, at Government House, Wellington, on the 16th October 1942.
Iain Stewart, 3 March 2006