Thanks for your generous offer macfire. I will check and maybe you would like to present it before the group flies out to Londaon next week. I will pm you. Phil82, I couldnt agree more. In 2009 at the unveiling of the BC memorial in Auckland , Sir Richard was reluctant to be part of the VIP group at the service , and later was much happier chatting with his mates. On this trip as both an Air Marshal and one of the RNZAF s most repected officers he will certainly recieve full recognition of his service.l
I'll let you into another little vignette on Dick Bolt; he's a brilliant off the cuff speaker!
There was another former Bomber Pilot and CAS,AVM Larry Siegert (Oct 76 - Oct 79), who I got to know quite well, both as CAS and some years later when retired. When he died two or three years ago, he had a full military funeral in Lower Hutt, attended by many of his contempories, including , of course, Dick Bolt who did a eulogy. He described Siegert as "the best natural pilot I ever met" and then proceeded to speak for a good fifteen minute without a noticeable break and not a note in sight!
Siegert incidentally, would have been well-qualified to go to London had he been alive. I asked him one day if it was true that, as a pilot of a Stirling supply dropping after D-day, had he not only survived an attack by three German aircraft but shot one of them down! 'All true " he said," except I didn't do the shooting, it was my rear gunner". Another lovely guy from a great generation.
I also attended a function once attended by another Lancaster Pilot, Arthur Joplin of Auckland, and to listen to the banter between Dick Bolt and Arthur [they were in different Bomber Groups] was really something special!
I always consider it a privilege to be in the same room as these guys.
Arthur served on 617 squadron , having been posted directly from OTU as a sprog pilot.He, like many is the ultimate gentleman and certainly doesnt boast of his ops against the Tirpitz. Another example of the priviledge of knowing such great people , after a year or twoof first meeting them , his wife Bette talked about her lifetime as Sir Edmund Hillarys secretary,,,,thats his chair you are sitting on . Just as well I WAS sitting.
Bomber Command veteran Bruce Cunningham prepares to fly to London for the unveiling of a memorial. Photo / APNZ
Bruce Cunningham and his comrades were flying low on the night he was shot out of the sky.
It was 1945 and they were tasked to bomb railway lines near Brussels in Belgium when something hit his Lancaster aircraft.
Mr Cunningham doesn't know where the shot came from but the 92-year-old will never forget what went through his mind as he watched his mates fly away while he parachuted to ground.
"I distinctly remember thinking: 'They're a mile above me, I'm sitting down here ... and they're going home for eggs and bacon'."
The World War II veteran, who became a prisoner of war, shared his sense of humour as he and 32 others who served in the New Zealand Air Force with Bomber Command prepared to fly to London this morning.
The veterans, all aged between 87 and 94, left the RNZAF Whenuapai base in Auckland for the unveiling of a long-awaited Bomber Command memorial in Green Park.
Mr Cunningham, of Wellington, said he went back to Belgium in 1996 and visited the cafe where he landed after parachuting to safety.
A woman working there returned part of the parachute, which she had kept and made a wedding dress from after Mr Cunningham was dragged to a Russian detention camp.
Twice he tried to escape. Once was with a former Eden College prefect Guy Pease, a soldier originally from England who studied in New Zealand and now lives in Australia.
Mr Cunningham said he remained close friends with Mr Pease, the pair sharing a special bond from their days at the camp.
"He was out here two or three years ago and we had a meal together and I said, 'you know, old habits die hard'. He said, 'what do you mean?' I said, 'well if I drop a piece of food on the ground I don't put it in the rubbish bin, I pick it up and I blow on it and I eat it'." Mr Cunningham said.
"You know what he said? 'I don't bother blowing on it'."
Stories of mateship formed during World War II will be shared by the veterans flying to London.
About 6000 New Zealanders who flew in bombing raids over Europe during the war.
More than 90 veterans applied for the Government-funded trip to London but 40 withdrew after considering the difficulty of the journey.
The approved 33 will have their international travel, accommodation and other costs including care and support teams and medical assistance paid for during the two-week trip.
Our 32 "Boys" took off at 0900 this morning from Whenuapai aboard NZ7571. With them were the medical team, caregivers, CAF Peter Stockwell, his staff, W/C Anthony Hawes Chaplin to the RNZAF and many more.
Here's a few pictures from this morning.
Ray Tait, Wakey Wakefield, Tom Whyte and Roy Montrowe
VA Minister Nathan Guy farewells the group. VA CEO Rick Ottaway and CAF in the background.
CAF AVM Peter Stockwell talks with NZBCA Executive, Frank Prebble (VP) Ron Mayhill (President) Bunny Burrows (VP)
PJW4118 couldn't resist this one with mates Roy Montrowe and Bunny Burrows
Post by ngatimozart on Jun 21, 2012 15:05:17 GMT 12
The story from Stuff. Lofty band of brothers MICHAEL FIELD
It might be the solemn last reunion of the men who as teenagers flew in World War Two's Bomber Command, but as 32 of the old airmen left New Zealand today, they were upV for a laugh or two.
"A couple of women are waiting for me at London Bridge," said Jack Wakefield, 90, from Blenheim, drawing a laugh from fellow tail gunner Tom Whyte, 87, from Auckland, "and yes, they're easier to chase now they're older".
The veterans, aged between 87 and 94, are enroute to London aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force 757 and the unveiling of a monument in Green Park to the thousands who died in nightly bombing raids over Nazi occupied Europe.
Around 6000 New Zealanders flew in Wellington and Lancaster bombers with 1851 killed.
Wakefield, who did two tours in Wellingtons, says he remembers practically everything.
"What is most important is that in our minds we can see the faces of every one that meant anything to us and was close to us. Most of them didn't make it," he said.
"It was a war we had to fight and we are bloody proud we paid our part... We were all pretty tough in our minds."
He flew in three of the 1000 bomber raids, on Cologne, Essen and Bremen: "that is when we knew we were winning....
"I was a tail gunner, I used to see where we had been and that suited me fine; the rest of the crew saw where the hell we were going."
Going on leave in London was always memorable.
"We made our mark. We liked the ladies and we were generally gentlemen but then we had times and got very very drunk and sang naughty songs in the pub."
Ray Tait, 88, of Russell was a navigator and remembers friends not even 20 years of age who were killed.
"We certainly felt the Nazi menace had to be wiped out and we had no compunction about doing what we were doing - that evil could not be allowed to continue." Frank Prebble, 88, from Auckland, was a visual bomb aimer in a Pathfinder Squadron.
"I spent my time up in the nose of the aircraft; you saw everything, more than the pilot."
His pilot was from Oxford University and there was never any idle chatter between the crews, unlike the movies.
But there was one time, he said, they were "coned" by German searchlights and flak struck their Lancaster. The navigator came on the radio: "'Jesus skipper that was too close to the balls', a piece of flak had gone right through his chart table."
He is grateful for the chance to "remember for a moment, those young faces, those who did not come back".
Travelling with the party is Chief of the Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Peter Stockwell.
He said of the 32: "Veterans with 20-year-old minds on older airframes and our challenge is going to ensure that those 20-years-old minds don't let the undercarriage get too far ahead."
Tom Whyte says as the youngest he feels like the baby on the trip.
"I feel a bit inferior because I got so little done before the war came to an end and I flew in aircraft so much better than the inferior ones of all the others."
London leave was an alcohol haze - but he remembered his tail gunner or air gunner (AG) song, singing it was gusto at Whenuapai: Ad Feedback
"I want to be a straight AG,
"And fly right over Germany,
"And watch the flak come up at me,
"It is foolish but it is fun,
"In my turret I will sit and try and shoot a Messerschmitt,
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 27, 2012 23:53:52 GMT 12
Great shots. Here's another that Peter and Karola Wheeler could not get to load up. It shows Jack "Wakey" Wakefield of Blenheim at the RAF Musuem, Hendon, pointing himself out ina No. 75 Squadron group shot. RNZAF Official.