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MORTLOCK, MARGARET JEAN

 

Margaret Jean Mortlock was born on the 21 March 1921 in Hawera, the younger daughter of Robert and Margaret Muriel Jean Mortlock nee McDougall.

 

Margaret was educated at the Hawera Main and Hawera Technical High School's, after which she became the box office cashier at the Grand Theatre in High Street, Hawera. (Later the Regent Theatre and now the Assembly of God Church) becoming "a popular figure among the younger members of the community".

 

Upon her enlistment in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) in 1943, she served at Kilbirnie in Wellington, before going overseas in October 1944.

 

In October 1945, Margaret was serving in Cairo, Egypt and while flying to England for the opening of a new forces club in London to cater for New Zealand Servicemen on leave from Italy, she was killed in a plane crash near Rennes, France on the 7th October 1945.

 

The report from the local French newspaper reads:  "This morning about 2.45, a terrible aeroplane accident took place near Rennes. An RAF army transport, a four engine Stirling, running out of petrol, was looking for a landing space on the airfield of St Jacques-de-la-Lande.  Owing to the weather, the pilot was not able to survey the ground and the plane crashed against a row of trees on the edge of the metaled road Redon-Rennes, about 5km behind the town. (It was found that the plane had crashed about 800m from the English base's landing field, but it had been covered in fog.) The plane was taking British soldiers and WAAC's back to England.  The 26 occupants, 5 members of the crew and 21 passengers all perished."

 

Margaret Mortlock, aged 23, was the only women serving in the Armed Services from South Taranaki to be killed while on active service.  She was buried in the East Cemetery, Rennes, France but is remembered on her parents headstone in the Hawera cemetery, and on the Hawera R.S.A Roll of Honour and High School Roll of Honour.

 

SOURCES

Obituary "Hawera Star" 17 Oct 1945

Personal papers held by John Mortlock (brother)