It was the early months of World War II when horrified onlookers at a Christchurch beach saw a Baffin bomber plane circle twice before dipping into a steep dive and crashing into the sea.

One described seeing a puff of smoke and hearing an explosion before the machine hit the sea.

It was February 1940 and the Baffin had crashed about 400m off the beach north of Waimairi.

All three airmen on the Royal New Zealand Air Force training flight 1940 were killed.

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The victims were Flight Lieutenant Arthur Poulton, Air Gunner William James Reynold Strachan, and Aircraftsman (first class)

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