Geoff Highet, last photo. Geoff was CO 75 sqn Malaya 1958-60 during my time there. Geoff joined Air NZ in the late 60's and I caught up with him again when I joined the company in 1970 and flew with him on Electra's and DC8's before he retired. I last communicated with Geoff in 2009 and he was at that time living in Christchurch.
Post by Dave Homewood on Mar 11, 2011 12:10:59 GMT 12
I visited Geoff Highet last year in Christchurch with the intention of interviewing him about his RNZAF career, which we'd pre-arranged. However on arrival I discovered poor Geoff had suffered a massive heart attack in the time between me arranging the visit and actually turning up. He'd only gotten out of the hospital the night before and was not feeling at all up to a filmed interview, which is totally understandable. However he was very gracious and we chatted for ages. He told me all about the heart attack and how doctors expected him to not last the night, even clling his son down from Wellington to say goodbye. Yet he survived. He told me in detail about his first ever op, in a P-40, when he was assigend as the wingman of Guy Newton who ended up ditching in the sea due to flak shrapnel in his engine. Whilst Guy floated in the sea awaiting the Dumbo that Geoff had called up, Geoff circled him to keep him protected. Suddenly some natives in a canoe began approaching. Geoff had been taught not to letthe natives get the pilots in this area as they would get paid by the Japanese to hand them over. So he did some very low flying and firing into the sea to try to scare them off. They actually got to Guy and were hauling him in when Geoff did the lowest run and they all ducked and Guy got away. Luckily the Dumbo turned up and Guy got home ok, and no natives were killed either.
He also told me all about how he was in Britain when NZ decided to purchase Canberras so they made him in charge of the purchase process. They were getting second hand examples and Geoff said the RAf tried to really screw the RNZAF, choosing the most ratty, time ex examples they had. They didn't provide any spares or personnel to get them going. In the end after hitting many brick walls trying to get somewhere, he called in a favour from the RAF's deputy CAS whom he'd met at a party, and within days they had flyable Canberras!
Geoff tells these stories with amazing clarity and detail. It's such a shame I never got to film him. He had always shyed away from publicity so his stories have never been recorded before and he relented to do an interview when I'd rung him because he thought maybe it was time to, as he won't be round much longer. Also he and I got on well. But sadly it was not to be.
He lives in Sumner so I wonder how he is coping after the quake.
Post by Dave Homewood on Mar 11, 2011 14:41:35 GMT 12
At the time we hoped to meet again when he felt better but I then had a message from his son saying he'd gotten worse and decided to forget the whole thing, which is very sad. I think of all the WWII veterans I have met, he'd have been in the top five for clarity and vivid memory, so it's a shame he probably will never have that recorded. I wish he'd write it all down.
Post by strikemaster on Mar 11, 2011 14:52:50 GMT 12
I'm sure a lot never gets written down because the person in question doesn't always care to remember too. If history isn't told, we are doomed to repeat it. Best we can do sometimes is to retell what we've heard.
This photo has, 'No 5 Course' on the back with the names, Rear, Lee, Blundell, Prior, Harvey, Rutherford, Hannah. Front, Waters, Matheson, AMH, Kirkup, Wadingford, Ransom.
This was just sent to me by my mate Richard Stowers, who got it from Keith Penny's brother Jack. The same photo but with signatures which add initials to the pilot's names.
Keith Stuart Strode Penny NZ39932 and his brother Russell William Strode Penny were both killed in 1942 as pilots. Keith in a Harvard at Tauranga during a mock-dogfight attack with a bomber (Oxford?). And Russel in a No. 486 (NZ) Squadron Typhoon while attacking a German bomber.
Richard wrote in the email: "Jack told me a few stories. One was...Russell grew up on the family dairy farm outside Levin where he had a petfarm dog. After Keith joined up the dog missed him. Aircraft flew over thefarm each day as Ohakea and Paraparaumu where close by. One day Keith flewover and the dog went crazy, looking up at the sky.After Keith left the farm the dog moped about and, when not working, sat ona lupin-covered mound near the homestead watching the roadway, obviouslywaiting for Keith's return. One day he stayed on the mound and continuallyhowled throughout the day and night. A few days later the family got atelegram telling of Russell¹s death. Apparently he died on the same day thedog howled!!!"
Ken Lee in the photo is still with us, and went on to fly with No. 485 (NZ) Squadron after a period as an instructor.
14 Squadron F/Lt Frank Keefe -Middle row,1st on the right F/Lt Bruce Hay -1st row,4th from the left F/Sgt Ian Munro- Middle row,4th form the left F/O Albert Saward -Top row,4th from the left F/Sgt John McArthur -Middle row 4th from the left F/O Peter G Moore- Top row ,4th from the left F/O Ian Thorburn- Top row,3rd from the left ? ?
I seem to have missed this fascinating section. Shorty: your photo posted on July 2010 jogged my memory as I have two photos that have the same 'look' Taken by Les Adams (No 1 Serving Unit) at Kokum show the burial party of a Corsair Pilot later in 1944. From Errols books, Noel Harper (17 Sq) is a likely candidate. he crashed on take off from Fighter 1 Guada canal (Kokum) in NZ5254 on Sept 15 and was initially buried on Guada Canal. While your photo has a lot of palms and these have not the burial ground was near Henderson field in open country while Kukum had (and still has) a lot of palms. Thats my best guess.
I hadn't thought of a funeral party, however, no coffin/altar, flag not at half mast, no firing party. For those reasons I still tend to think it's either a handover of some sort. I doubt it's the normal daily flag raising as no US flag which I would tend to think would be there given the Seabee sign and the number of US personel there. I suppose one scenario is that the Seabees have finished the base, pulled their flag down and handed the place over to our guys who have run their flag up? Although itf that were the case they would have taken their sign down as well so I really am still confused as to where it is and waht is happening.
Getting back to this mysterious location from page 1. Could it be Omaka? Short hangar (same as Omaka) single ended and a double row of windows across the back wall.(also tha same as Omaka) the door to the left could be the one that leads through to where the present day Aero Club office is. Omaka is also big enough to get a Hudson into. It does throw my original thought that they were a Sunderland crew out the window but you can't win them all. They couls easily be Oxford crews?
Post by Dave Homewood on Aug 18, 2011 0:11:25 GMT 12
This is the best image I can find from my collection showing that end of the hangar - I'm not sure it is a matcxh because the internal office walls are lower in this modern view, and the structure is all different. Note the b&w photo shows a flush wall whereas in the Omaka photo the vertical beams protrude from the wall, ie not flush.
The other half of the Omaka hangar was used at Nelson. Could this be that half? That would definitely account fo the Hudson. Perhaps these are Hudson crews? I'm not that familar with the Nelson hangar, perhaps young Crabtree could check it out?
Dave I think only one is a half size one. The hangars at Omaka and Nelson were originally destined to be number 6 hangar at Woodbourne (standard size) but the material was allocated in two halves to Omaka and Nelson which is why those hangars only have doors at one end and are only half the length. (but you probably knew that)