Sidney Noel Wiltshire GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 12/12/1909 Farnham, Surrey. d. 29/09/2003 Hunterville, New Zealand.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 21/10/1929 Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

Sidney Noel Wiltshire (1909-2003) was born in Farnham, Surrey, the fourth of eight children of William and Kate Wiltshire (nee Judd). His father was a bicycle and motor repair man. He attended Farnham Grammar School where he boxed and played cricket. On 28th June 1929, following in the footsteps of his two elder brothers, he began a short commission with the RAF as a Pilot Officer.

Sidney N Wiltshire GC

On 21st October 1929 at Temple Bruer Landing Ground, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, he was flying with his instructor, Flying Officer H. E. Power, in an aeroplane that crashed on landing and at once caught fire. Having extracted himself, Sidney found that his companion’s foot was stuck in the wreckage and that he could not get out. Sidney, realising the risks, he re-entered the flames and helped Flying Officer Power to get clear, during which he sustained burns on the neck and face. Power’s clothing was by this time well alight. Both men were taken by air to Cranwell Hospital.

He was gazetted for the Empire Gallantry Medal of the Military Division on 31st January 1930. He was promoted to Flying Officer on 28th December 1930. On completion of his service with the RAF on 28th June 1934 he transferred to the RAF Reserve of Officers. At this time it was difficult to obtain employment as a commercial pilot in England and as a result Sidney went to work on the construction of a jungle airfield for a gold-prospecting company in Papua New Guinea with his brother Bill. When this project was abandoned, he joined North Queensland Airways as a pilot, remaining for nine months. He then joined Guinea Airways, New Guinea.

In September 1938 he joined Union Airways, later to become New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NAC) and now Air New Zealand, but in October 1939 he transferred to Cook Strait Airways Limited, based at Nelson. After the outbreak of war, he was posted to the regular list. On 10th November 1939 he was appointed to a temporary commission in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, with temporary rank of Flight Lieutenant and posted to the Air Observers’ School at Ohakea (Unit 12) for general duties.

On 30th October 1940, in Wellington, he married a widow, Gretchen Guy (nee von Dadelszen). There was no children in the marriage. On 2nd January 1941, he was posted to 2 (GR) Squadron, based at Nelson, where he stayed until posted to Wigram on 16th August, as Officer Commanding Signals Flight. He was then appointed Commanding Officer of the RNZAF at Milson, near Palmerston North which he held until May 1943. Sidney was posted to Wellington, where he was posted at Rongotai late in January 1944. At the end of the war, he returned to Union Airways. In 1952, on finishing flying duties, he became the Passenger Services Manager for National Airways Corporation for about 18 months.

After retiring from flying, he worked in the antiques business before taking a post with Hutchinson Motors in Christchurch. He finally retired in December 1978 to Waikanae, outside Wellington then moved to the farm belonging to his wife’s niece and her husband outside Hunterville. Sidney died there on 29th September 2003 and he was cremated and his ashes scattered. His medals including his GC, 1935 King George V Silver Jubilee Medal, War Medal 1939-45, 1953 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, 1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, New Zealand Commemorative Medal 1990, and 2002 Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal are privately held by the family.