WWII air ace Johnny Checketts dies

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by syscom3, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    12,631
    Likes Received:
    309
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Another Great Ace Is Gone.

    WWII air ace Johnny Checketts dies
    April 24, 2006 - 6:44AM


    Johnny Checketts, one of New Zealand's greatest fighter pilots of World War II, has died aged 94.
    He died at his home in Christchurch on Friday.

    During the war he flew at least 418 sorties, many of them over Nazi occupied Europe.

    He shot down 14 and a half German aircraft (one victim shared), two V1 flying bombs, and destroyed two German E boats.

    On top of this tally were four probable "kills" and at least 11 damaged German aircraft.

    Twice he was shot down in hair-raising brushes with the Luftwaffe fighters, both times bailing out.

    John Milne Checketts, who won the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), US Silver Star and Polish Cross of Valour, was born at Invercargill on February 20, 1912.

    A motor mechanic by trade, he was educated at Invercargill South School and Southland Technical College.

    To those who knew him in later life he was an unassuming man who never considered his war service anything special.

    "We were just ordinary people just doing a job," he told NZPA in February 2002.

    Yet Checketts never forgot the horror of shooting down and killing his first German during a patrol over France in early 1943.

    On the tail of the German Focke Wulf 190 fighter he "blew the backside off him" with his Spitfire's 20mm canon and .303 Browning machine guns.

    The pilot didn't bail out. "It upset me quite considerably," he said.

    "He was somebody's boy with a mother and father. But I also thought it could easily have been me.

    "After that I didn't let it worry me because it was him or me."

    He joined the air force as a 28-year-old in mid-1940 but broke a leg while training at Wigram, Christchurch. The Battle of Britain was long over by the time he reached England.

    After the war Checketts returned to New Zealand and served with the air force. In 1955 he retired from the military to operate his own top-dressing business in Dunedin, but sold it in 1958.

    Checketts who flew Spitfires for 611 Squadron, Royal Air Force, and 485 (NZ) Squadron, emerged as one of New Zealand's best fighter pilots of the war.

    "I had very good eyesight. I could see an enemy aircraft at a great distance and it gave me the opportunity to put myself in a position to win a victory or shoot him down."

    His favourite plane: a Spitfire mark IXb.

    In July and August 1943 Checketts bagged eight enemy fighters, including three Messerschmit Bf109s on August 9, for which he won the DFC.

    He was a Squadron Leader of Biggin Hill-based 485 Squadron the second time he was shot down, this time after a dogfight over France on September 6, 1943, involving some 20 Focke-Wulf 190s.

    With no ammunition left, Checketts had no chance and his Spitfire was soon belching flames through the ****pit.

    Badly burned, he parachuted to safety and was looked after and hidden by the French for several weeks until he and 12 other escaping servicemen were crammed into a small fishing boat and smuggled across the channel back to England.

    He had burns to his face, legs and arms and was wounded in both legs, knees and arms.

    Checketts said he had no regrets about serving even though war was unpleasant.

    "It is destructive. Everything about it is to destroy and I don't think human beings are brought into this world to destroy things. They are brought into the world to preserve."

    After Checketts got back to England he was promoted Wing Commander, leading a wing of three squadrons for the D Day invasion of France.

    Today a mark XVI Spitfire in the Alpine Fighter Collection carries his wartime markings, "J MC".

    Checketts is survived by two sons and a daughter.

    His funeral will be held at St Matthews Anglican Church in Christchurch on Wednesday.

    A WWII Mustang fighter aircraft will make a flypast at the funeral.
     
  2. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    41,760
    Likes Received:
    518
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Doctor
    Location:
    Portsmouth / Royal Deeside, UK
    Home Page:
  3. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    19,419
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Location:
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
  4. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    8,857
    Likes Received:
    376
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Workin' for the man....
    Location:
    South East Queensland
    You beat me to the post Sys. Truely a great pilot [​IMG]
     
  5. Salim

    Salim Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Guys, how do you put the salute emoticon? Call me an idiot, but I didn't figure that part out!
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,202
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
  7. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2005
    Messages:
    47,656
    Likes Received:
    1,490
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A retired military Navigator/ATC, FIS controller
    Location:
    Poland
    It always makes me sad when such a great pilot is gone.Because of the same problem with an emoticon that Salim has mentioned I salute Him in this way.
     
  8. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    28
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Substitute teacher; graduate student
    Location:
    Connecticut, United States
    From what i've read it sounds that he was a great pilot. I feel sorry for him.
     
Loading...

Share This Page