John Peter HANNA
Known to all as Peter
Serial Number: NZ413682
RNZAF Trade: Pilot
Date of Enlistment: 15th of June 1941
Rank Achieved: Warrant Officer
Date of Birth: Born on the 25th of November 1920, at Masterton
Personal Details: Peter was the son of Mr Robert Stanley Hanna and Mrs Lillian Adelaide Hanna of Leamington, Cambridge. He had a brother, David Stanley Hanna, and a sister Judith Lillian Hanna (now Judy Green).
Peter was educated at Cambridge Primary School and Cambridge District High School.
Peter was a well-known sportsman in his time, and was a member of the Leamington Rugby Football Club. He also played for the Cambridge Cricket Team, the Cambridge Tennis Club and was prominent in golfing circles too. Prior to enlisting in the RNZAF Peter worked for the Cambridge District Power Board. He was married to Muriel, and they had a daughter Deborah (now Deborah Page) who has kindly supplied the photos and additional information for this page.
Service Details: Peter was in the Territorial Army before joining the RNZAF. He joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a trainee pilot at the same time as Gordon Easter, also from Cambridge, in 1941. Both ended up training together in New Zealand and Canada. They left Auckland on the ship Mariposa on the 20th of October 1941. Peter and Gordon trained at No. 4 Service Flying Training School at Saskatoon, on Course No. 42.
The following excerpt comes from The New Zealand Observer magazine, which was a social magazine of the day, dated the 15th of October 1941. This snippet of news, written by a Cambridge-based columnist identified only as SALLY who wrote the column with seemingly only female readers in mind, came under the section "Waikato Doings" and the subheading "Cambridge Sidelights";
"AIRMEN ENTERTAINED: The Patriotic Committee staged a morning tea recently in honour of Pilot Officer Jim Meredith, and Aircraftsmen Peter Hanna and Gordon Easter. Some of the people who came along to say 'happy landings' and wish them the best of luck were Mrs Edgar James (Mayoress), Mrs Arthur Nicholl, Mrs R.S. Hanna, Mrs Charlie Meredith, Mrs M.A. Bell, Mrs A.R. Batchelor, Mrs E. J. Easter, Mrs W. Garland and Ethyl Swayne."
On the same page the following report was made by the same journalist:
"COMBINED PARTY: Mrs H.B. Rishworth and Mrs R.S. Hanna combined their efforts in a coming-of-age party for Rosemary Rishworth, and one in honour of Aircraftsman Peter Hanna. The party was staged at Mrs Rishworth's home at Karapiro - ideal for a party. The lounge and supper tables were beautifully decorated by Mrs Eddie Nickle with tulips, anemones and ranunculus. Mrs Rishworth wore an attractive floral organdie frock in autumn shades, Mrs Hanna's frock being of black lace.
Rosemary was wearing a frock of black moire taffetas which suited her fairness perfectly, whilst sister Pam wore a taffeta frock of hyacinth blue. Various games and dancing and a sumptuous supper, I hear, helped this to be a very bright party. Several lasses who came a distance were the guests of Mrs Rishworth for the weekend. A few of the many invited along were Mrs Mervyn Wells, Mrs Joe Banks, Mrs Eddie Nickle, George Vospers, the Frank Vospers, the Joe Butlers, Susan Banks, Sheila Richardson, Coralie Foster, Janet Abraham (over from Hamilton), Barbara Potts (Matamata), Elizabeth Alford, Heather McDiarmid (Hamilton), Shirley Savage (Te Aroha), Ruth and Pat Nickle, Phyllis Vosper, Billy Magson and Maureen Long of Hamilton. SALLY."
Peter sailed for the UK where he was attached to Royal Air Force bomber units. On the 8th of November 1942 he was piloting a No. 13 OTU Bristol Blenheim IV (1991) with Sgt Owen as his co-pilot, when they crashed. peter spent the next four months in RAF Halton Hospital recovering from his injuries.
From Peter's flying logbook these are his various postings (will elaborate on this soon)
Initial Training Wing, RNZAF Station Levin - 4 May 1941 - 28 July 1941
No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School, RNZAF New Plymouth - 30 July 1941 - 15 Aug 1941 - DH82 Tiger Moth
No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School, RNZAF Taieri - 28 Aug 1941 - 25 Sep 1941 - DH82 Tiger Moth
No. 4 Service Flying Training School, Saskatoon, Canada - 19 Nov 1941 - 29 Feb 1942 - Cessna Crane
No. 1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada - 10 March 1942 - 13 March 1942
No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth - 21 March 1942 - 24 April 1942
No. 405 "Vancouver" Squadron, Pocklington - 25 April 1942 - 24 June 1942 - Halifax II
No. 6 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, Little Rissington - 25 June 1942 - 18 Aug 1942 - ?
No. 13 Operational Training Unit, Bicester 19 Aug 1942 - 8 Nov 1942 - Bristol Blenheim
RAF Halton Hospital 8 Nov 1942 - 4 March 1943
No. 2 Aircrew Convalescent Depot, Hoylake 4 March 1943 - 4 June 1943
No. 13 Operational Training Unit, Bicester 4 June 1943 - 17 Sep 1943 - Bristol Blenheim
RAF Finmere 17 Sep 1943 - 5 October 1943
No. 107 Squadron, Hartford Bridge 2 Nov 1943 - 8 Feb 1944 - Douglas Boston
No. 107 Squadron, Lasham 8 Feb 1944 - 5 July 1944 - Douglas Boston
No. 2 Group Support Unit, Swanton Morley 5 July 1944 - 17 Sep 1944
No. 226 Squadron Hatford Bridge 4 Sep 1944 - 17 Oct 1944 - North American B-25 Mitchell II
No. 226 Squadron, Vitry, France 17 Oct 1944 - 13 Mar 1945 - North American B-25 Mitchell II
No. 416 Repair and Salvage Unit, Eveqe, Belgium 13 March 1945 - 2 June 1945
Details of Death: Peter died on the 5th of October 2003, in Hamilton, aged 82
Buried at: Hamilton?
Connection with Cambridge: Peter Hanna lived in Cambridge before the war, coming here very young and then living in Cambridge till he joined the RNZAF in 1941.
Thanks To: Peter's daughter Deborah Page for the photos and a lot of the information on this page.
Cambridge Museum records via Eris Parker
The New Zealand Observer magazine, dated the 15th of October 1941
The Waikato Independent newspaper dated:
Homeserviceman to camp 1 July 1940
Farewelled with wallet 8 Oct 1941
Injured on active service 23 Nov 1942
Warrant Officer and Mrs Hanna arrives on ‘ Stirling Castle ' 1 March 1946
Welcome home dance 27 Feb 1946