404002 Flying Officer Ralph Tye RNZAF
© The Lucas Collection
|Ralph Tye was born at
Auckland on the 5th November 1912 and attended The Hamilton
Technical High School where he enjoyed playing football. For a number of
years after leaving school he was employed in farming in the Waikato and
at the time of applying for Aircrew in September 1939 was working as a
truck driver for Maxwell and Wilson of Te Awamutu.
He enlisted at I.T.W. Levin in October 1940 followed by 3 E.F.T.S. Harewood to commence flying training, then in January 1941 to 2 Service Flying Training School Blenheim. Here in April he was awarded his flying badge and promoted to Sergeant then sailed for Canada and the UK arriving in late June. Posted to 23 O.T.U. Pershore he crewed up and commenced flying training on the Wellington before arriving at 75 (RNZAF) Sqdn Feltwell in August 41 and as a freshman was given the role of 2nd pilot to one ‘Popeye’ Lucas. One of his first missions was to Cologne flying in a Wellington with the familiar Popeye logo followed by Mannheim, Frankfurt, Kiel, Genoa, and it was in October that Ralph Tye took command of his own aircraft completing 33 Ops.
In May 42 he was awarded a Commission on being posted to 27 O.T.U. Lichfield in Staffordshire as a Staff Instructor Pilot on Wellingtons. This was not exactly a ‘rest’ period as O.T.U’s became involved in Ops themselves and he flew 2 Ops in September to Dusseldorf and Bremen. On the 11th January 43 whilst crew training from Church Broughton Derbyshire (satellite of Lichfield) in Wellington BK405 the aircraft crashed a few miles North of the airfield and the 5 crew were all killed.
Ralph Tye was buried in Scropton Cemetery (Extension to St Pauls Church) with Sgt Mcdonald RAAF and Sgt Wearne RAAF. Sgt John Kerr RAFVR was buried at St Albans and Sgt Eccles RAAF at Salford.
Ralph Tye is mentioned in the book Popeyes War (see books page) the biography of Wg/Cdr Lucas DFC and Bar