I was wondering if the historians on this forum would have knowledge of one Marama Tahu O’Tangi Potiki Te Whaiti PARATA, 391068. He was a WOAG in 8 SQN at Emirau in 1945 and crewed with S/L Maurie PIRIE, MBE. My dad, an 8 SQN pilot, knew him as Tom PARATA and recalled that he crewed as a SGT WOAG with 75 SQN RAF. Does any know the details of his tour with this SQN. 8 SQN photos of S/L PIRIE and W/O PARATA copyright National Archives of NZ
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 21, 2018 17:28:20 GMT 12
Sgt Parata served with No. 75 (NZ) Squadron from the 18th of August to the 10th of November 1942.
He crewed with Sgt Roy William Raharuhi, RNZAF (NZ412737). Their regular fellow Wellington crew members seem to have been: Sgt H.D. Reid RAF, Observer Sgt Terence Austin Murphy, RNZAF, (NZ413307) Air Bomber Sgt Robert James Carter DFM, RNZAF, (NZ41570) Air Gunner
Notice that the flying badges of both men are of the New Zealand metal type, which had no equivalent in the wartime RAF. They were introduced by the RNZAF in about August 1944. I think the RAAF may also have had metal aircrew badges in latter part of WW2 as well - can anybody confirm this? Incidentally, both photographs are of excellent quality - thanks for posting them. By all appearances, these photos were taken at Nausori, Fiji, where native bures were commonly to be found on the aerodrome for various purposes. No. 8 Squadron of course was stationed at Nausori before proceeding to the "forward area".
Just noticed that Parata in his photo is wearing his W/O badge in the approved tropical manner on a KD wrist band. Also of interest is that his metal aircrew badge is merely that of an A/G, although he was a qualified W/Opr A/G. This anomaly came about because the RNZAF only had Pilot, Nav, A/G and F/E badges in the metal (tropical) form, although this could be got around by having a cloth "Sparks" badge on the upper sleeve, but this option was not always taken up by those qualified to do so. The Canadians introduced a "WAG" aircrew badge in about 1941/42, which obviated use of the "Sparks" badge and these were often issued to RNZAF members on graduation in Canada, but the RAF opinion in the UK was that they were not official, and should be replaced by a cloth A/G badge on chest and a "Sparks" badge on upper sleeve. Many RNZAAF W/Opr A/Gs wore the Canadian WAG badge in NZ, seemingly without too much opposition. The little-known light blue cotton field service cap is worn by Parata, complete with its black plastic buttons. This was the replacement for the totally unsuitable woollen F/S cap previously worn, and descendants of this cap mat still exist in the service. Can anybody deny or confirm this? David D
A few notes on career of Parata. Enlisted Ohakea 24/10/39 as ACH GD, remustered to AG u/t 14/4/41, emb for Canada 26/5, disemb 13/6, to 3 WS 16/6, to 4 B&GS 27/10, awarded A/G badge and promoted/remustered to Temp Sgt W/Opr A/G 24/11/41 (to F/Sgt 1/6/43, W/O 1/6/44), to 1 Y Depot 28/11, emb for UK 8/1/42, disemb 3 PRC 20/1, to 1 Sigs Sch 24/2, 9(O)AFU 4/4, 11 OTU 27/5, 75(NZ) Sqdn 18/8, tfd to 115 Sqdn 10/11/42 with the Raharuhi crew; emb on repat to NZ (no date), disemb NZ (Auckland) 10/2/43, to 2 GR Sqdn Nelson 28/2, moved to Ohakea with sqdn 26/4, moved overseas with sqdn (now 2 BR Sqdn, equipped with PV-1 Ventura) on 18/11/43, served at E/Santo, G/Canal, Munda, B/Ville, disemb NZ 24/5/44. Sqdn reformed Gisborne x/6/44, to Aircrew Pool (Hobsonville) 25/8, posted to 8 Sqdn @ Whenuapai 1/10/44, emb for Fiji (Nausori) 22/11/44, served at Funafuti 3 - 17/12/44, then to Emirau, disemb NZ 30/3/45. To NEP 1/5, tfd to Reserve C 13/6/45. So a fairly busy operational career after his training in NZ, Canada and the UK, no indulging in instructing or other non-operational stuff, all Browning guns, bombs and depth charges. Only relatively "quiet periods" were in Canada (intensive training) and with 2 Sqdn in NZ (also quite busy working up on Hudsons, then Venturas, as well as on operations patrolling the approached to our ports). Abbreviations used above: WS = Wireless School; B&GS = Bombing and Gunnery School; emb = embark, disemb = disembark; repat = repatriation; PRC =Personnel Reception Centre; NEP = Non-effective Pool; Sigs Sch = Signals School; (O)AFU = Observers Advanced Flying Unit; OTU = Operational Training Unit; 1 Y Depot was simply a holding unit in Canada for personnel awaiting embarkation for UK. David D
Thanks’ gentlemen for your detailed responses to my question, the knowledge base of the individuals associated with this forum never ceases to amaze. As for W/O PARATA his service history is astonishing, having survived a tour with 75 Squadron in the European air war where aircrew casualties were close to 50%, this brave airman continued to serve in the Pacific air war were my father’s recollection of him was of an extremely good-natured and experienced senior NCO. <style></style>
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 31, 2018 14:55:48 GMT 12
Quite a reasonable number of the guys who served in the Pacific on bombers had already flown bomber ops in Europe. Same with fighter guys too. Not many people seem to realise there was a lot of airmen who did both theatres.
Quote-"The little-known light blue cotton field service cap is worn by Parata, complete with its black plastic buttons. This was the replacement for the totally unsuitable woollen F/S cap previously worn, and descendants of this cap mat still exist in the service. Can anybody deny or confirm this?"
That style of cap (allbeit with metal buttons) was issued to personel servingng in Singapore, when we had tailor made KD uniforms made there they also made us an even lighter F/S cap of a paler blue. I still have mine somewhere. The NZ issue ones were made from similar material to that used for the blue shirts worn with battledress.
Photo from “The Weekly News”, 17 March 1943, but thought to be taken at Mildenhall the year before, “A Maori team at a British air station”, L-R: Sgt Roy Raharuhi (pilot), Sgt Marama Parata (wireless operator, Raharuhi crew), Sgt “Mana” Manawaiti (wireless operator, Trott crew), and Sgt “Ted” Gray (wireless operator, Broady crew). - Air Force Museum of New Zealand, via the Raharuhi family.
I found this fascinating. Is anyone able to advise whether Tom Parata lived in Rotorua after demob? My parents were friends with Billie and Tom Parata in the 1950s and I had been to their home. There were two daughters, one called Denise, about the same age as me or slightly older. If I "age" the photo of Tom, I reckon it may well have been he.
What some people don't know is that they don't know enough to know that they don't know anything