P/O Peter Price
Peter March Price was born 6 March 1924 in Remuera, Auckland New Zealand to parents Captain Frederick Ashton Price MC, and Mrs Hazel Maud Price. At the time of writing, it is known that he had two half siblings, sister Gwendolen and brother Frederick. Prior to enlisting, Peter attended Wanganui Collegiate School, Whanganui, New Zealand from 1938 to 1940, and worked at the Bank of Australasia, Napier Branch.
Upon enlistment, we have been provided the following details:
2 May 1942 – Initial Training Wing Rotorua (ITW/Rotorua) as Airman Pilot under training
23 July 1942 – 3 Elementary Flying Training School (3 EFTS), Harewood, Christchurch, New Zealand
7 August 1942 – 1st Solo flight
16 October 1942 – 2 Service Flying Training School (2 SFTS), Woodbourne, near Blenheim, New Zealand
25 January 1943 – Pilots Badge with effect from
6 March 1943 – Promoted to Sergeant
Attached to RAF
4 April 1943 – Embarked for UK, SS Northumberland from Auckland, New Zealand
11 May 1943 – Arrived New York, New York, USA
28 May 1943 – 12th Personal Despatch & Receiving Centre, Padgate, Warrington, Chesire, England
6 July 1943 – 17 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit ((P)AFU) RAF Calveley, near Nantwich, Cheshire, England
16 November 1943 – 55 Operational Training Unit (55OTU) (Hurricane) RAF Aston Down, Gloucestershire, England
24 January 1944 – 53 Operational Training Unit (53OTU) (Spitfire) RAF Heston, Middlesex, England
23 February 1944 – No. 1 Tactical Exercise Unit (1 TEU) (Hurricane), Angus County, Scotland
31 March 1944 – No. 3 Tactical Exercise Unit (3 TEU) (Hurricane, Typhoon), (location unsure – Cumberland, England?)
30 May 1944 – 84 Group Support Unit (84 GSU) (Typhoon), (Aston Down, Gloucestershire, England)
3 June 1944 – 609 Squadron, RAF Thorney Island, West Sussex, England
18 June 1944- Funtington, Sessex (609 Movement)
1 July 1944- B10/Plumetoot, France (also a detachment at Hurn, Hampshire), (609 Movement)
9 July 1944- B5/Camilly, France (609 Movement)
19 July 1944- B7/Martragny (609 Movement)
22 July 1944 – Commissioned Pilot Officer
27 July 1944 – KAO
The 27th of July marks the tragic loss of Peter Price while flying JP843, this was his only operation whilst flying this aircraft. Below is a list of all operations Peter Price flew with 609 compiled using Squadron ORB's with the help of Mark Crame.
Pilot: NZ424518 Plt Off Peter March PRICE, RNZAF - Age 20. 472hrs. 10th op.
Peter Price Flying Typhoon MN520 18:00 to 19:30
Squadron with 10 aircraft of 198 Squadron, attacked concentrations in a wood given as Target T.9162-T.9267 South of Battle area. Aircraft then attacked transport on roads in looslity. Claims 1 M.E.t. destroyed, 3 damaged.
Half of the Squadron up early again and eager for action but no show was put on until 12:40 hours when the C/O led Pagnam, Blanco, Rowland. F/Lt Geerts led Bliss, Coorman and Merrett. And Roberts with Buchanan, Holmes and Gibson on Ramrod 986. Owing to cloud, the first 8 A/C failed to locate target near St. Vallery-en-Caix. Roberts and his team attacked the Coastwatcher at Cap de la Heve when strikes were claimed with cannon and near misses with R/P.
At 18:00 the C/O was out again with Price, Seguin, Inches, Roberts, Bavington, Adam, Bryant, Gibson, Roysten, Holmes and Harkness. Royston’s R?T was u/s and he had to return. The others set out on Assu.GLM 1. To attack an enemy concentration in a wood given as target T9162/T9267 South of the Battle area. The Squadron then attacked transport in the locality and claimed 1 MET destroyed and 3 MET damaged.
In the last light of day, Geerts took off with Billam, Merrett, Bliss, Blanoo, Jaspis, Watelet, Cooreman, Cables, Rowlands, and Pagnam. Buchanan was spare man and flew with them almost over the Channel in the hope that someone would fall out but he had to return somewhat disgusted. The others carried on to attack enemy tanks harbouring in a orchard (ASSU.UHT/5) at T904703 in the Battle area. Attack was made after signal from own troops with both R/P and cannon. 4 A/C on secondary target failed to locate and did not attack and brought their R/Ps back. The Squadron returned at 23:20 in the dark and all made good landings with no excitement. Blanoo was flying a new machine and in his way showed he was very pleased with it. Watelet had a rail come loose which flapped about and dented his main plane.
14/6/44 09:30 to 10:55
Peter Price Flying Typhoon R8772
Attack on Army Support Target. No red smoke seen as arranged over target pinpoint but red smoke seen at village west of target. Village attacked with 60 R/P’s and cannon.
14/6/44 14:10 to 14:50
Peter Price Flying Typhoon JP851
W/Cdr. Brooker leading 609 Squadron took off from Thorney Island and landed without incident in Normandy.
Peter Price Flying Typhoon JP851 18:55 to 19:20
The Squadron with S/Ldr. Wells, leading operating from E.L.S. B2. Attacked cross roads and village at T.7454 and 6 houses were hit by R/P’s. W/Cdr. Brooker flew last in this operation.
14/6/44 21:55 to 23:10
Peter Price Flying Typhoon JP851
The Squadron with W/Cdr. Brooker leading took off from E.L.S. B2. Attacked Rail Bridge U 180585. Direct hits with at least 8 R/P’s on bridge and line. 8 R/P’s into rail sheds at Beucaville-Campagne and 8 R/P’s on line north of it, 2 aircraft did not attack. All landed safely at Thorney Island but heavy flack broke up formation and squadron landed in two’s and three’s.
After breakfast the C/O took off with Royston, Inches, Seguin, Roberts, Price, Buchanan and Adam on Ramrod 999 to attack an Army Support target. No red smoke was seen as arranged over the target pinpoint but red smoke signals were seen at a village west of the target and our fellows went in and removed the village.
After some waiting about, the rest of the day turned out to be a RED LETTER one for the Squadron for at 14:10 the Squadron set off and landed in Normandy XX on E.L.S. B.2 near Barenville. The most annoyed man was F/Sgt Adam who at 12:00 hours was seen lugging his parachute and dingy out of his machine as W/Cdr Brooker had “pinched” it and Adam had to stay behind. W/Cdr. Brooker, the C/O with Royston, Gibson, Bavington, Holmes, Price, Buchanan and Seguin were concerned and took part in this flight and the next two operations.
The Squadron waited for some 3-1/2 hours on the ELS and heard the battle guns and watched the Commandos servicing their machines and having a good look around. At 18:35 S/Ldr. Wells took off amid the dust and sand to attack cross roads and village at T7454 and another village held by the enemy as a strong point was removed. W/Cdr Brooker went in last this time.
At 21:55 the Squadron with W/Cdr. Brooker leading took off again to attack a rail bridge U 180585. Direct hits with at least 8 R/P’s on bridge and line were observed and more direct hits on rail sheds at Banoaville-Campagne with the track north of it. 2 A/C did not attack. There was much heavy flak and fellows admitted that they were shaken by it. The formation was broken up and the pilots landed all safely at Thorney Island in twos and threes round 23:00 hours.
There was much chatter in the Dispersal hut before going over to Intelligence amongst those who stayed behind and those who went. Holmes picked a bunch of wild flowers and grasses for Manu as a reminder that we were getting near to his native land. Price came home with a Jerry helmet and Buchanan had won a diary written in German and was much annoyed to have it taken from him by the “Chief Spy” and so ended a memorable day.
18/6/44 12:55 to 14:40
Peter Price Flying Typhoon JP851
Squadron on armed Recce, W/Cdr. Brooker leading. Abortive owing to weather.
The Squadron finally cleared Thorney Isle by 10:00 and the Airlift party close on 1.3.00. We found the new airfield already in shape with tents up for dispersal and Orderly and the pilots busy pitching sleeping quarters. Everybody seems to like the new location but the amenities of Thorney will be missed.
At 12:55 W/Cdr. Brooker took 7 of our bodies on Ramrod 1015 for and armed Recce. Weather was very bad with 10/10th cloud on the French Coast and the attack was abandoned.
Later at 20:05 F/Lt Geerts with Cables, Cooreman, Bliss, Blanoo, Billam, Rowland and Merret set out on Ramrod 1015 for an armed Recce. Vice –Falaise – Lisieux area. 15 MET seen on main roads between Falaise and Argentan and attacked with R/P and cannon. 8 Lorries left on fire claimed destroyed. 3 AFV damaged with cannon. The Squadron returned at 21:45 in high spirits. They met no flak and given the lorries a good prang. The Belgians on the trip were all talking at one to another 19 to the dozen. Manu was so determined to destroy one truck that he says he nearly hit the deck. He claims 2 lorries. Merrett came back with a holes in his main plane caused by debris. Price says it was the best trip he had been on so far.
18/7/44 07:35 to 08:15
Peter Price Flying Typhoon EK210
8 aircraft detailed to attack gun positions at 207649, 200657, 194650, 198640. All R/P’s in target area except 196646. Wood at 192641 attacked and well covered.
18/7/44 10:05 to 10:20
Peter Price Flying Typhoon EK210
9 aircraft detailed to attack gun positions as before. Targets well covered. Cannon strikes on 200657 but guns still firing. Direct hits at 194656.
A busy day. The first call comes before breakfast and at 07:35 Geerts takes Seguin, Buchanan, Inches, Roberts, Price, Royston and Scott on XLE3 GC2 to attack gun positions at 207649, 200657, 194650, 196646 and 198640. This was in the area St Ouen du Mesmel Oger. All R/P’s in target area except at 196646. A wood at 192641 attacked and well covered. Buchanan was hit by Flak in the undercart. The show was not quite successful so at 10:00 Geerts takes out Inches, Roberts, Seguin, Adam, Buchanan, Scott, Royston and Price on the same target. Again targets were well covered and cannon strikes were observed on 200657 but guns still firing. There was a direct hit at 194656
25/7/44 19:20 to 19:55
Peter Price Flying Typhoon MN868
Attack on gun positions at Rocquancourt. Target located and strikes in target area, guns believed hit.
Two more shows are put on at 19:20, GC56/CWJ1, a gun position at Rocquancourt when the CO led Price, Buchanan and Scott. They located the gun position and the gun was hit…the pilots had to contend with intense light accurate Flak and so the day closes – the busiest since leaving England.
26/7/442:25 to 14:00
Peter Price Flying Typhoon MN868
Squadron detailed to attack railway targets Yvetot-Charleval. 3 aircraft attacked goods trains at Yvetot and 1 aircraft strafed with cannon. 4 aircraft attacked 20 stationary trucks at Monteville. Many hits seen, some flamers.
**Interesting to note F/Sgt Price returned 30 minutes after all other aircraft in his flight.
The first call today comes at 12:25 when the CO takes out Ashworth, Buchanan, Harkness, Inches, Adams and Price on GC18 (Bavington starts his engine but breaks an oil pipe so is out of it). This time the target is railways at Yvetot-Charleval. The CO gets a direct hit on the station after a low level attack. Stationary goods trains at Yvetot are pranged with R/P’s and strafed with cannon. Trucks are hit at Monteville with many Flamers. Price dives through cloud and on coming up sees aircraft and is somewhat surprised when they go down again. He finds that he has joined up with the wrong Squadron and after he has made five attacks is short of petrol and lands at B.9. For once there was no Flak and all had a good time
Peter Price Flying Typhoon JP843
Section Scrambled on enemy concentration near Tilly-la-Campagne, aircraft directed to 680 yards South-West of Tilly 061599. 2 aircraft fired 16 R/P’s in concentration near smoke. Large M.E.T. on road cannon strafed. P/O Buchanan and F/Sgt Price failed to return on this operation.
Today pilots work on a new system in very close support to the Army. A Visual Control Post is actually in the thick of the battle and directs the pilots onto the targets. Sections are lined up on the runway and are Scrambled into the air and then given their target. The first Scramble comes at 12:10 when Cooreman leads Cables, Jaspis and Adams on VCP5 to attack tanks at 073586 S. of Bourguebus. Two objects are seen on the road, apparently burnt out tanks, but they are attacked with 16 R/P’s and 1 A/C fired 8 R/P’s at tank at corner of wood at 073567 but no results are seen. Then at 12:40 Yellow Section are Scrambled on VCP6 and P/O Merrett takes Annear, Billam and Stellin to attack dug in tanks at 103612 near Frenouville. 32 R/P’s are fired on either side of the road and on the road and 1 tank Flamer is claimed. At 17:30 Red Section led by P/O Buchanan go out on VCP10 on an enemy concentration near Tilly la Campagne. Aircraft are directed to 600 yards SW of Tilly (061599). Some Flak was encountered and Price who was No. 2 of the Section broke right and down and was last seen disappearing in the rainstorm. Cloud base was about 2,000 feet and he was not seen again. Adam was hit in the tail and had to come back but Buck and Bav went on. They fired their R/P’s but Buck went too low and Bav saw him pull out too steeply or perhaps blown up turn over and crash in flames. Bav strafed a large MET on the road with cannon.
JP843 was later found crashed near Poussy-la-Campagne, 7km SE of Tilly-la-Campagne. Peter Price was buried at the scene, but later reinterred at Ranville, 9km NE of Caen.
Below from left to right: Raymond 'Bav' Bavinton (Aus.), Harold 'Tich' Freeman (Can.198 Sqdn), Roland 'Roly' Ashworth (Brit.), Peter 'Prix' Price (NZ.) Thorney Island. Bav was the only one of the four to survive.
Pilot Officer Peter March Price of the Royal New Zealand Air Force joined 609 Squadron at Thorney Island on June 3rd 1944, he is buried at the Ranville War Cemetery in France, grave reference IX.F.22.
A memorial has been placed at the crashsite to remember P/O Price's sacrifice.