WW2 Sub Lieutenant Ian Lewis Ruxton Wilson (NZD2645)

Sub Lieutenant Ian Wilson

Ian Lewis Ruxton Wilson was born in Auckland on 13 June 1920. He was the second son of Warwick St George Ruxton and Merthyr-Tydvil Winfred Wilson (nee Lewis) of Remuera, and one of three brothers who served in the forces.

At the time of his enlistment with the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve, on 19 February 1941, Ian Wilson was a law student living at 112 Remuera Road. He embarked from New Zealand on the WW2 Vessel Akaroa. He served on aircraft and air carriers and was present at the Allied Landing at Salerno. At the time of his death on 1 May 1944 he had reached the rank of Sub Lieutenant.

The New Zealand Herald, 12 May 1944, reported Ian Wilson as missing. For seventy-two years all the Wilson family knew was that Ian was “Missing on Operations” until Leslie Hayward reached out to his sister, Angela Caughey, via Auckland Museum’s Online Cenotaph.

In 2016 Angela Caughey had written a note on Ian’s Online Cenotaph and a few months later she was contacted by Leslie Hayward. He informed her that his uncle, namesake Sub Lieutenant Leslie Frank Hayward, and Ian were both part of the Fleet Air Arm, 838 Squadron. They were killed with seven others on the night of 30 April /1 May 1944.

The 838 Squadron left from their base at Harrowbeer and were redirected to Aber Wrac’h, Plouguerneau, in Brittany, France, where three planes in the squadron were shot down by a well-defended German destroyer. Ian was piloting NE906.

Since receiving information on Ian’s final resting place the Caughey family have visited Plouguerneau and laid plaques on the graves of Ian and of the other airmen killed alongside him.

Through a heartfelt act of leaving a note on Auckland Museum’s Online Cenotaph the Caughey family have been able to find their loved one, make connections, and share memories.

Angela Caughey with family visit Ian's final-resting place in Plouguerneau, France