"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them."

from the poem 'For The Fallen' by Laurence Binyon

Corran Perry Ashworth was born in Eketahuna, New Zealand, on 25 September 1921, eighth child and fourth son of Arthur John and Edna Mary Ashworth. He was educated at Alexandra District High School where he obtained his University Entrance in 1937. In civil life he was employed as a clerk in the Post and Telegraph Department and his favourite sports were rugby, cricket and tennis.

1941 - 1942

Corran Ashworth applied for enlistment in the RNZAF in January 1941 and was enlisted at Levin (around 95 km north of Wellington) on 15 June. His flying training was carried out at No. 3 Elementary Training School, Harewood, Christchurch, and No 2 Service Flying School, Woodbourne (located 8 km west of Blenheim). He was awarded the Flying Badge on 18 October and promoted to Temporary Sergeant on November 29.

On most Sundays we were free of duties, and my father would collect me, and some of the others, to go home for the day. Already, lasting friendships were forming in the groups, and I teamed up with Corran Ashworth - known as 'Ash' - a man of considerable charm and ability, and a very good pilot. His instructor was called 'Butch' Baines, because of his tendency to turn purple when he wound himself into a rage. Ash trudged away from a Moth one morning grinning widely, but with a pale and subdued instructor.

The flying exercise had been spinning, and recovering from the spin. Ash had pulled the nose of the aircraft up until it was stalled, but was not applying rudder (to cause the spin) to the satisfaction of his instructor. "Boot it on - hard - like this"; yelled Butch lunging at a rudder pedal. With the Moth spinning earthward he then roared: "Right - recover and pull out." He was one of those annoying instructors who sometimes kept his hand and feet on the controls while the pupil was in action, and after several turns in the spin he started raving at Ash to pull out. Ash yelled back, "Get your bloody feet off the rudders!"

The panic set in. Butch had jammed the sole of his flying boot between the rudder bar and the side of the cockpit, and there was no way it could be withdrawn. In desperation he released his safety harness, wrenched his foot out of the flying boot, then tore the boot forward and clear of the rudder bar with his hands. Ash corrected the spin and only pulled out of the dive 'scraping the daisies.'

After they landed Butch actually apologised to Ash.

Excerpt from Johnnie Houlton's book 'Spitfire Strikes' pages 19 - 20

He embarked for the United Kingdom in December 1941, commencing advanced flying training at No. 17 Advanced Flying Unit, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk on 16 March 1942. He moved on to No 55 Operational Training Unit, Annan, Dumfriesshire on 7 April to undergo training on Hurricane aircraft. On June 9 he joined No. 403 Canadian Squadron at Martlesham, Suffolk, participating in operational exercises in Spitfire aircraft. Corran flew for the first time on 12 June 1942, in a Spitfire. On 25 June he joined No. 253 Squadron at Hibaldstow, Lincolnshire, after 48h of flying, where he flew Hurricanes once more. He participated in the ground strafing of Dieppe, his second mission in operation. He took off in a Hurricane at 04h30 to attack the gun position on the coast around Dieppe. He flew a second time, for one hour, between 16h30 and 17h30 in the valley of Scie.

In November, the Squadron moved to French North Africa, operating from Phillipville, Algeria. Sergeant Ashworth, as pilot of a Hurricane in the Squadron, participated in patrols, convoy escort and sea sweeps. The Squadron contacted enemy aircraft on a number of occasions.


Sergeant Ashworth reported shooting down a JU-88 in the vicinity of Jemmapes on 15 February 1943, and he was promoted to the rank of Pilot Officer on 23 March, at which time he was discharged from the Royal New Zealand Air Force.NB

On June 15 he was transferred to No. 14 Squadron, Blida, Algeria where he continued operations, flying Mustang I aircraft. He joined No 32 Squadron at Tingley in North East Algeria on July and he was flying both Hurricanes and Spitfire aircraft on varied operations. On 9 July he reported shooting down a Bf-109 fifty miles N-NW of Galite. This was confirmed and on 23 September he was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer.

Flying Officer Ashworth returned to England in October and, after a few days at No. 55 Operational Training Unit, was sent to No. 3 Flying Instruction School, Lulsgate Bottom, Somerset. He returned to No. 55 Operational Training Unit on October 10, where he flew Hawker Typhoon and Hurricane, Miles Masters, Magister and Martinet aircraft.


On D-Day, Flying Officer Ashworth proceeded to No. 83 Group Support Unit at Redhill in Surrey where he flew Mustangs. He was then posted to No. 65 "East India" Squadron.
On June 10, he moved with the Squadron to a newly captured aerodrome in Normandy. The Squadron formed part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force and was engaged on strikes against enemy railway yards, communications and troop concentrations. Corran Ashworth had a busy month of bombing in France and on the 14th of June he was on reconnaissance (12 Planes) in the area of Rouen. He shot down a Bf-109 G6 of the 2./JG5: the pilot was not wounded but his plane was totally destroyed. He followed up with an Fw-190 near Argeantan on 17 June.

During July he flew a lot of reconnaissance missions from 65 Squadron's base in France: 122 Airfield. On the 11th and 12th he spent time on formation and low flying as well as aerobatics. He 'shared' a Bf-109 G6 III Gruppe of JG26, damaged near Dreux-Conches on July 29, with Sergeant Holland, 65 Squadron.

On August 2nd, Flying Officer Ashworth was not on mission because his plane YT-U had technical problems on 31 July: the engine cut off and he did training tests.

It was raining hard early in the morning of August 3rd, though it cleared mid-morning. The weather was very cloudy and visibility low (10/10) when he took off at 10h34 with 12 other aircraft. At 500 metres he saw the barges plus four 88-mm guns and 8 batteries of 20mm and 37mm protecting the bridges and ferries located on this part of the Seine.

Flying Officer Corran Perry Ashworth was seen at 4,000 feet commencing his pull out when his aircraft (Mustang III, number FB-208, USAF serial number 42-103102) appeared to explode, going down in a ball of flame and plunging into the river. The exact cause is not known but some very accurate enemy anti-aircraft fire was experienced at the time and it is probable that one of his bombs was hit by some. He was in the last section to go down and no guns were fired.

Flying Officer Ashworth was classified as missing believed killed and later reclassified to "presumed dead".

808 hrs as pilot.

Corran's medals
Corran's Medals and Clasp (l-r):
The 1939-45 Star | The Aircrew Europe Star
The France and Germany Clasp | The Africa Star | The Defence Medal
The War Medal 1939-45 | The New Zealand War Medal

The New Zealand Memorial Cross (not pictured)
Awarded to next of kin following service personnel's death.

nzflag ani

'There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it'. ~ Havelock Ellis

Corran's brother, Vince, has also been collating information. He has been in contact with a French historian, Fabrice Dhollande, who is writing a history of WWII in Normandy. Fabrice has put a lot of effort into researching Corran, including arranging a memorial plaque which was unveiled - near the site where Corran died - on June 10th 2006. Vince made a speech in Corran's honour.

Author Paul Sortehaug interviewed Kiwi airman Jimmy Prentice in 1989 and there was mention of Corran, who was a friend of Jimmy's. 

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Dedicated, also, to the men and women
who fought and died,
were wounded physically and mentally
or became POWs or MIAs
in the conflict known as World War II
as well as the many wars before and since.
Also, to those who experienced war
through their loved ones' eyes
and became affected by those experiences
and suffered from the loss of their loved ones.

'War does not determine who is right. War determines who is left.' – Bertrand Russell


Vince Ashworth was a 12-year old schoolboy when his war hero brother was killed:

"We never knew exactly what happened, but it was a very sad time. I remember very vividly how families were advised of casualties. We got a knock on the front door at 5 o'clock one night. It was the postmaster and he handed Mum a telegram and said he was sorry. Casualty lists were published every day in the Otago Daily Times, too. That's how it was done in those days."

Flying Officer Ashworth is among the 20,450 Allied airmen who died in unknown circumstances during World War 2 with all names listed on the Runnymede Memorial, at Englefield Green in England.

"That was the end of it for 60 years, as far as my family was concerned," Vince said, "Then, eight months ago, I received an email from an amateur French military historian, Fabrice Dhollande, who was doing research on World War 2 in Normandy. He had met a local man who, as a child during the war, had seen my brother's plane going into the river."

Four of Vince's brothers also fought in World War 2, including highly decorated Wing Commander Artie Ashworth, who was awarded the DSO, DFC and bar, and AFC and bar. With the average life of RAF bomber crews being 10 operations, Artie's survival of 110 missions was seen as something of a miracle.

Source: Otago Boys' High School Foundation 20/07/2006
Corran (r) and brother Arthur
Wellington, New Zealand, c. 1938