On Friday, Dannevirke and Districts RSA members will be selling poppies in the lead up to Anzac Day commemorations.

And for one former Matamau resident, Russell Murphy now living in Australia, for the first time there will be New Zealand poppies on the grave of his uncle Terence Austin Murphy and three others killed when their Stirling bomber was shot down over Holland in 1943.

Russell originally contacted Kathryn Mulinder of Dannevirke RSA asking if she would be able to supply four poppies, but the request then grew as he learned more about his uncle's ultimate resting place and his sister Helen eventually gathered the 50 poppies required.

World War II Stirling bomber crew bombing up in 1943 at Mildenhall in the United Kingdom.
World War II Stirling bomber crew bombing up in 1943 at Mildenhall in the United Kingdom.

"I've been on an amazing journey of discovery, uncovering Uncle Terry's World War II history.


"My Dad's brother, Terence Murphy, was killed in 1943 when his Stirling BK604 was shot down over a village in Holland," Russell told the Dannevirke News from Brisbane.

On the night of February 3, 1943 the Stirling took off at 18:23 hours - their target was Hamburg.

Shot down by a German fighter flown by ace Hauptmann (Captain) Wolfgang Thimmig, who downed 24 aircraft during WWII, the Stirling crashed at 20:13 hours at Enter, 9km southwest of Almelo, in Holland.

The four killed, including Sergeant Terence Murphy, 30, the son of Patrick and Adelia Crimlin Murphy of Matamau, are buried in Wierden General Cemetery. Four survived and were taken as prisoners-of-war.

"My parents are the late Lawrence and Norma Murphy who farmed on Te Ohu Rd, Matamau, after taking over the farm from my grandparents, Patrick and Adelia Murphy," Russell said.

"As kids we didn't know much because Dad and Granddad never talked, so I wrote to the New Zealand Defence Force for Uncle Terry's war records. We never knew anything and always thought he was buried in France, but thanks to Margaret Marks of the New Zealand War Graves Commission we uncovered valuable information. She referred to them as 'her boys'. Then in 2012, through a 75th Squadron New Zealand website, I found a Mr Diederick ten Brinke, 27, of Enter, Holland. He had photos from his grandfather, and over time we have had a lot of contact and become friends."

From there the Murphy family's research snowballed.

"I received a lot of information about Uncle Terry from Kay Hewitt at Dannevirke High School," Russell said.

"And then through Diederick, who was very involved in the Liberation of Enter 70th anniversary in 2015, we made contact with a Mr Kees Kroon, a teacher at Immanuel School in Wieden.

"Kees has been very involved in the Wierden Historical Society, and as recently as 2008 remains of crew of a Lancaster bomber were found and traced to their respective families using DNA.

"This is the reason I ultimately needed 50 poppies as students from the school adopted 25 Commonwealth war graves and they've visited them every year since the end of the war, so I wanted the students to have their own New Zealand poppy too."

Terence Austin Murphy of Matamau - Lest We Forget:

* Born in Eketahuna on July 28, 1912.

* Educated at Dannevirke High School, he played rugby for the school's 1st XV and the 1st 11 cricket teams.

* He was employed as a herd tester for the Wellington and Hawke's Bay Herd Improvement Association.

* In March 1940, he applied for war service with the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

* He was enlisted for aircrew training on June 7, 1941.

* On August 14, 1941, he went to Canada for training under the Empire Air Training Scheme.

* On January 3, 1942, he was promoted to sergeant and two days later on January 5 he was posted to No1 Air Navigation School, Rivers, Manitoba.

* On March 29, 1942 he arrived in England and was posted to No3 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit in Cumberland on April 25.

* On August 18 he was posted to No75 New Zealand Squadron, Mildenhall, Suffolk and commenced operational flying.

* With this squadron, as a bomb aimer of Wellington and Stirling bombers, he took part in 20 operational flights including attacks on Saarbrucken, Bremen (2), Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Essen, Krefeld, Aachen, Cologne and Fallersleben in Germany, and Genoa in Italy and Lorient (2) in France, along with five missions laying mines in enemy waters.