Stafford John Harry, Flight Lieutenant (DFC)

stafford 1John "Jack" Stafford was born on 19 August 1922 in New Lynn, Auckland. He joined the RNZAF in March 1942.

He left for UK in January 1943, Stafford was converted to Hurricanes with OTU at Annan before being posted to 486 Squadron in November 1943 as a Sergeant Pilot. Based at Tangmere with Hawker Typhoon, 486 Sqn were engaged in dive-bombing and ground-attack operations over Europe in preparation for the invasion of Europe the following year.

In January 1944, 486 Sqn were re-equipped with Hawker Tempest. In February Stafford was posted to the de Havilland Aircraft Company at Hatfield as a testpilot in the Propeller Test Division. By April he was back with 486 Sqn. The squadron flew fighter sweeps, shipping strikes and ground attack prior to D-Day, before becoming one of the main units involved in the V-1 Flying Bomb campaign.

During the period 19 June to 29 August Stafford shot down eight V-1s. He was promoted to Warrant Officer in June and commissioned the following month.
In early September 486 Sqn returned to the offensive over Europe. In late September Stafford covered the airborne invasion to capture Arnhem and the Nijmegan Bridges before the squadron moved to Europe as a part of the Second Tactical Air Force, based at Grimbergen in Belgium. 486 Sqn moved again in early October to Volkel in Holland. On Christmas Day Jack Stafford, along with Flying officer Bremner shot down the first confirmed Me 262 for 486 Sqn.

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Left: Tempest pilots from 486(NZ) Squadron. From left, Jack Stafford, C.O Keith Taylor Cannon, Owen Eagleson and Ralph Evans - relax after a sortie from Volkel, in Holland, in early 1945.

 

Stafford was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in February and made Flight Commander of A Flight. On the 12 th April Stafford shot down a Fw 190D east of Ludwigslust, his last aircraft destoyed. He was posted to 83 Group HQ Mettingen, Germany on 15th May, receiving the DFC. On 15 May he was posted to 80 Sqn at Fassberg before moving to Copenhagen. He was repatriated to New Zealand in December 1945 and left RNZAF in April 1946. 

Jack Stafford passed away peacefully on 1 August 2015, at Edmund Hillary retirement village. 

 

 

 

 

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Jack Stafford visiting Pioneer Aero and Tempest Mk. II MW376 on 16 August 2012. 

 

Click here to watch a 3News video clip from the visit: Kiwi pilot relives wartime heroics in restored Tempest!

 

 

 

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SA-M (SN129) carries the pennant and scoreboard of Jimmy Sheddan. Sheddan claimed 1 and 2 shared in SN129. It's first success came on 13 March 1945 when Warren Schrader claimed a Fw190. Jack Stafford got another Fw190 on 12 April in this aircraft.

 

 

 

Stafford's victories in Tempest

 

Date of Claim Type Claimed Aircraft Serial No. Location of Claim Unit
19 June 1944 V-1 (JN805)   486 Sqn
20 June 1944 V-1 JN811)   486 Sqn
22 June 1944 V-1 (JN803) NE of Battle 486 Sqn
30 June 1944 V-1 (JN801)   486 Sqn
4 July 1944 2 V-1s (JN854) Hailsham/Tonbridge 486 Sqn
26 July 1944 V-1 (JN803) N of Hastings 486 Sqn
29 August 1944 V-1 (JN803) N of Tonbridge 486 Sqn
25 December 1944 1/2 Me 262 (EJ625) Aachen area 486 Sqn
23 January 1945 1/2 Bf 109 (EJ706) Rheine 486 Sqn
2 February 1945 1/3 Do 217 EJ523) S Paderborn 486 Sqn
22 February1945 Bf 109 SA-L (NV791) S Münster 486 Sqn
12 April 1945 Fw 190D SA-M (SN129) E Ludwigslust 486 Sqn

 

 

 

Image from:
New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum.
Text sources:
New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum.
The New Zealand Herald
The Typhoon & Tempest Story (Chris Thomas & Christopher Shores)
Tempest Pilot (J Sheddan & Norman Franks)