Group Captain John Gard’ner passed away on May 6, 2011 in Tauranga, New Zealand. With his death, only three of the 95 New Zealand pilots who took part in the Battle of Britain are still alive. Gard’ner also fought during the Korean War, during which he was attached to a US Marine Corps squadron.
Gard’ner joined the RAF in 1938 and was posted to 141 Squadron flying the Boulton-Paul Defiant after training. On June 19, 1940, his squadron was patrolling with their totally obsolete aircraft when they were jumped by a greater force of German Me 109s. Out of nine aircraft, only three returned to base. The loss was such that the squadron was temporarily removed from active service.
Gard’ner stayed with the RAF until the end of the war, eventually becoming a squadron leader. He was credited with one aerial victory, a Fw 190 shot down in November 1944. During the Korean War, Gard’ner was assigned to a USMC unit and flew F3D Skyknights.
He retired in 1965 and settled back in New-Zealand. He is survived by his wife Suzanne, two sons and two daughters.