Topic: John Glen McCauley (1912-1942)

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John Glen McCauley from Katikati was declared missing-in-action during World War II on 19 December 1942. He and his wife, Joan, wrote a series of letters to his older sister Hazel Emily McCauley. The collection is entitled 'McCauley Letters to New Zealand from Wartime Britain'. John was my second cousin twice removed - Debbie McCauley.

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John Glen McCauley (1912-1942)

John Glen McCauley was born in Kaponga on 12 November 1912. He was registered at Katikati No. 2 School on 14 February 1921. After working as a journalist in New Plymouth he went to the United Kingdom where he worked in a furniture store and in newspaper advertising. Bob Anderson writes:  

'My uncle and godfather, John Glen McCauley, left school at the age of about 15 to become a journalist at the Daily News in New Plymouth for six years. He then spent two years in Wellington managing the office of a well-known commercial advertising firm before travelling to England in the mid 1930s where he worked in a furniture store and newspaper advertising. He married Joan Dorothy Harvey, another New Zealander, in London on 16 July 1938.

John and his wife, accompanied by a friend from New Zealand, toured the continent, including Germany, immediately prior to the second world war and an interesting report on what they found there was published in a New Plymouth newspaper. Following the outbreak of war, John Glen joined the Royal Air Force, and on 18 March 1942 was granted a commission for the emergency as an Acting Pilot Officer in the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR); he was subsequently promoted to Pilot Officer and Flying Officer.

On 19 December 1942, he was a passenger on a Hanley Page Harrow flying from its base in Portreath, Cornwall, to Gibraltar. The plane never arrived at its destination and was either shot down or suffered a mechanical failure or some other mishap. However, a post-war scrutiny of German records revealed no claim of a “kill” at the time and place in question and a recent letter from the Air Historical Branch of the RAF confirmed there was no evidence that the plane had been shot down.

In a letter to my mother three months after John went missing, Joan McCauley said that she had been told by the mother of a crew member that a message had been received from the plane indicating it was turning back. She had also been told that an extra fuel tank had been fitted to increase its range and that subsequent testing over the Bay of Biscay of a similarly modified plane had indicated that fuel supply problems could occur during a tank changeover.

The bodies of four of the eleven passengers and crew aboard John Glen McCauley’s plane were washed ashore in France, and buried there, but the body of John was one of those never found. Three successive generations of McCauley men, John Jnr., George Thomas and now John Glen, had therefore died in tragic circumstances"

I have a silver medal, the New Zealand Memorial Cross, sanctioned by George VI in 1947 and awarded by the New Zealand government to commemorate the country’s servicemen killed in the second world war. The medal is inscribed with John McCauley's name and was either given directly to my mother (as John's eldest sister) or passed to her by John’s widow, Joan Dorothy, who remarried before the end of the war’. (Anderson, 2013) 

The letters home to Katikati from wartime Britian by John and Joan McCauley can be found by clicking on this link: McCauley Letters to New Zealand from Wartime Britain

Below is the Crew/Passenger list for the Handley Page Harrow of 271 Squadron (Serial number K7011) that vanished without a trace on 19 December 1942 whilst on route from it's base in Portreath, Cornwall, to Gibraltar. Those on board were lost at sea excluding those marked with an * whose bodies washed ashore in France and were buried there:

Squadron Leader Godfrey Allison BROWN 1st Pilot
Flight Lieutenant Edward Thomson HALLEY 2nd Pilot
Flight Sergeant Richard George BRETT  Navigator 
Flight Sergeant  John BRISTER  Wireless Operator 
L.A.C. Philip CASHMORE  Fitter 
Pilot Officer John Glen McCAULEY  Passenger 
Major  Harold John PALMER  Passenger (Army)  
Lieutenant  Andrew Jervis HAWKINS *  Passenger (Royal Navy)  
Flying Officer  Edwin Buckley BOWEN *  Passenger  
Flying Officer  William Milton HENDERSON *  Passenger  
Pilot Officer  Peter Marsh BURTON *  Passenger  

On page 138 of Arthur J. Gray’s An Ulster Plantation (1950) John McCauley is listed as dying in World War II (1939-1945). John is also listed on the Katikati School Roll of Honour, Katikati Men of Both Wars 1939-1945 as a Pilot Officer (118987) with the Royal New Zealand Air Force. He was killed on 19 December 1942 (reg. 1945/39907). There were no children. His widow Joan (1914-1996) remarried before the end of the war to a Mr Wallis.

John is listed on the Katikati School Roll of Honour (Lest we Forget: 1939-1945):

CUNNINGHAM Victor Trooper
HOLMES Norman  Flying Officer 
JOHNSTON Morris  Seaman 
MacMILLAN Collin  Sub. Lieutenant 
MARSH Alan  Warrant Officer 
McCAULEY John Glen   Pilot Officer 
MOUNTIER Russell  Pilot Officer 
PYE Halford  Flying Officer 
SKINNER Howard  Private 
WALFORD Russell Lieutenant

From: Katikati School Roll 

A letter from the Public Trust Office dated 24 October 1946 provides some details of John Glen McCauley’s estate. Included is Freehold property situate at Katikati, Government Valuation 31/3/38:  Unimproved £175. 0.  0. Improvements £480. 0.  0. Capital £655. 0.  0. Accrued rents from the above property £2. 6. 10.

Volume 3 of the book For Your Tomorrow by Errol W Martyn, a record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and allied air services since 1915, records John’s details (1998, p. 327):

John Glen McCauley (1912-1942)

A metal plaque, in memory of John Glen McCauley, was placed beside an oak tree on 21 September 2006 at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, United Kingdom, by Bob Anderson, his nephew and godson. It reads: In memory of Flying Officer John Glen McCAULEY R.A.F.V.R. 118987. Born Kaponga, New Zealand. Lost over Bay of Biscay on 19.12.1942, aged 30 years. Planted by his nephew and godson, Robert John ANDERSON. The Arboretum was created in 1997 and, as stated on its website, ‘is the UK's year-round centre of Remembrance, a living and lasting memorial to commemorate and celebrate’. Bob Anderson lives ten miles from the Arboretum and, on 25 April each year, he attends the ANZAC day service held there, wearing the New Zealand Memorial Cross, sanctioned by George VI and given to his mother, Hazel Emily McCauley, in memory of her brother, John Glen McCauley.



Bob Anderson's Family History Website

Patricia Rae Bowden (niece of John Glen McCauley, personal communication).

Robert (Bob) John Anderson

The McCauley Family of Katikati, New Zealand: 1876-2012 by Debbie McCauley (2012).


This page archived in September of 2016:

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John Glen McCauley (1912-1942)

First Names:John Glen
Last Name:McCauley
Date of Birth:12 November 1912
Place of Birth:Kaponga
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:19 December 1942
Place of death:Bay of Biscay
Place of burial:body lost at sea
Occupation:Journalist and Acting Pilot Officer
Place of settlement in Bay of Plenty:Katikati, New Zealand
Spouses name:Joan Dorothy Harvey
Spouses date of birth:18 August 1914
Spouses place of birth:New Zealand
Spouses date of death:27 November 1996
Spouses place of death:New Zealand
Date of marriage:16 July 1938
Place of marriage:London, England
Fathers name:George Thomas McCauley
Fathers date of birth:19 September 1884
Fathers place of birth:Katikati, New Zealand
Fathers date of death:19 October 1938
Fathers place of death:Inglewood, New Zealand
Mothers name:Sara (Pat) Ann Ford
Mothers date of birth:1878
Mothers date of death:20 August 1925
Mothers place of death:Tauranga Hospital
Name of sibilings:Hazel Emily McCauley , Olive (Rae) Rae McCauley , and Quita Margerett Eva McCauley
Military Service:World War II

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