In 1939 a 21 year old joined the N.Z.R.A.F. as a reservist. When World War II was declared he was called up and sent to Woodburn training camp in Blenheim and taught to fly. In August 1940 he sailed from New Zealand for England and went to war. As the sea voyage progressed from holiday cruise to deadly dangerous, he kept a diary and then gave it to a steward to post home from LA.
He was a foundation member of 485 NZ Spitfire Squadron. He watched his best friends die before his eyes, was shot up twice and made it back to his aerodrome and killed a man for the first time. And he wrote letters home.
In December 1941 he sailed for the Middle East and, after a spell as an instructor, he requested a transfer back to active duty. Only four of his training course of 21 men survived and came home. He was one of them. Many years later he wrote notes about his war time experiences in preparation for the memoir that never happened.
In 1991 he died at the age of 74 after an 11 month battle with cancer. He was my Dad and I inherited the box of letters and notes. It is time we all heard about his war and I have complied this as much for the younger members of my family who never knew this brave and modest man, as for anyone else. World War II, from the air and the ground, in his own words.
About Julie Thomas
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Published October 3, 2011
by Julie Thomas.
Biographies & Memoirs, War, History.