The 30 Squadron and Servicing Unit RNZAF

Newsletter Archives 2004


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Issue No. 36
February 2004


30 Squadron and Servicing Unit Newsletter No. 36
February 2004

Dear 30 Squadron Members,

I must have received a record amount of correspondence during the Xmas period with a huge amount of interesting information from our American friends, which I will deal with in due course.

Unfortunately Father Time has also been very active as sadly I have to announce the passing of a further 3 comrades since our last newsletter, these being:

Bruce McKellar (Armourer) died at the Oamaru Hospital on the 21st November 2003. Although I did not know him personally he was well known to all my armourer friends. He did attend some of the very early reunions at Gisborne, however the distance to travel was too great for these to continue.

Arthur Talmage (Instrument section) died at Tauranga on the 6th January 2004 following a determined struggle to defeat the effects of a stroke, which had restricted his speech somewhat. Arthur was a great friend of mine and I will always remember him as our official hair-cutter (or shearer?) who worked hard at keeping our unit neat and tidy (see Newsletter #5 for further details and photo).

Ian Bills (Fitter II) died at Tauranga on the 10th January 2004.

Ian and his wife Shirley were regular attendees at all our annual reunions both Gisborne and at Auckland. In fact the last one was the first one I can remember that he missed, however sadly Ian was then suffering with cancer from which he never recovered.

Art Surtees, the editor of Marine VMBT 232 has forwarded some wonderful


information including a copy of the Los Angeles Times magazine which provides seven pages covering an article on the growing wave of Californians who are active in purchasing costal land in New Zealand.

Also included was the latest copy of the US Marine “Leatherneck” magazine, which featured an amazing article written by a former marine who, when on R and R in NZ, together with a group of convalescing marines in the Wellington Silverstream hospital, spent, 10 days leave in Gisborne in December 1942.

What started with a chance meeting in Wellington with a NZ WAAF who invited him to spend Xmas holidays with her parents ended with a total of 60 marines being billeted thanks to a Mrs Oakden who even talked NZ railways to provide a 60-seater railcar to transport them. They were welcomed by Mayor Bull and even visited a sheep ranch owned by a Mr. Jack Raymond (who was described as a bear of a man?) where they helped with the shearing. Boxing day was spent at the local races where several got the chance to ride some of the horses. Photos were included with the article, which proved beyond doubt that the event was genuine.

What is more astonishing is the fact that we in 8GR were never told or became aware that the Americans were in Town no doubt for reasons best known to the authorities involved.

Tom Sheahan the only remaining active 30SU member in Gisborne has undertaken to research the event however to date he has been unable to locate any of the Gisborne people who were involved during that time.




I had a surprising phone call from my old friend James (Red) Darroch the other day, whom I referred to in my previous newsletter concerning his attendance at Laury Faireys funeral (Newsletter # 34 October). Apparently he has now been transferred to The Beach Front Rest Home at Stanmore Bay where he is permanently installed as a resident even having his own private telephone (09 4247-313). Red says that it is a beautiful location and he only has to cross the road and he is on the sandy beach, which suits him, down to the ground as he used to be a lifesaver in his youth. Red says that he would be pleased indeed if any of his friends could phone him at the number quoted.

Received during the Xmas period a surprising letter from David Morgan who lives in Devon, England. He commences with the following words “Dear Wally Ingham, You don't know me but I feel I know you and other members of wartime 30 Squadron and SU”. It transpired that he is the son of F/O Cliff Morgan (Molly) the original 30 Squadron armament officer, who was tragically killed in a road accident close to the Officers camp in Childers Road in April 1943.

Tom Sheahan had previously forwarded a copy of an article in the Gisborne Herald, April 22nd 2003 entitled “RAF Armourer Remembered” concerning a small gathering at his grave in the Taruheru cemetery. The two ladies present Theo Spence and Lesley Barker both confirmed that they would write to him and so all armourers including the great Eric Kelly can be assured that David Morgan will be informed of the tribute paid to his father by visiting his gravesite on the 60th Anniversary of his death.

I have just been informed that another 30 Squadron air crew member more commonly known to all as “Rowdy” Horton is now a resident in Room 25, Malvina Major Retirement Village, 134 Burma Road, Wellington 4. Rowdy was our CO's navigator and usually flew in TBF serial #2513. I am told that he is now a little shaky on his feet but manages to get around very well with a stroller these days.


All of us wish you all the best in your new residence Rowdy.

Received a most interesting letter from Barbara Everson during the Xmas holidays in which she advises that she is very busy completing Ken Everson's memoirs, which she hopes to privately publish some time in the near future.

One item she requested was a copy of the “Funny words” rescue pamphlet, which all American airmen and some allied aircrew were issued with in case they were unfortunate to have crashed in the jungle and needed help.

Ken had sent me a copy some years ago. It was written both in Pidgin English and English, and was to be handed to any natives who may be able to help. Unfortunately my copy was also a copy of a copy and was unreadable.

Pidgin English was developed by officials in the Australian Dept. of Native Affairs and was a method by which Natives who spoke no English could readily understand. After many attempts to re-write the words, including contacting the Australian Consol who was unable to help, Julie Carr came to my rescue and amazingly through searching the Internet came up with exactly the details I was wanting. Interestingly, it was provided by US Army Air Corp # 70 Squadron, operating B26 Marauder aircraft exclusively in New Guinea and based in Australia (Brisbane). Strangely it referred to Fiji and the Fijian jungle, which obviously was an error as to the best of my knowledge the Pidgin-English language, was not used there and covered only the Australian territories mainly New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Pidgin English thingo that was reproduced here was not supplied, sorry

At long last I received a reply from our young Auckland Grammar School student who unfortunately had been busy in preparation and undertaking his important bursary examinations, and only now has had time to communicate with us.





He has given me a CD of the finished assignment and writes thus:

“I must thank you sir, for all the effort you put into guiding me in my project, and providing me with a vast number of invaluable resources. All of this helped me gain a greater appreciation of not only the life and experiences of Flying Officer Gardner, but also the reality New Zealand's contribution to the Pacific Conflict as a whole”

The CD is designed for the use of high school students for study about NZ's contribution to the war in the Pacific.

At the time of writing this newsletter I have not viewed it on a Computer but I am getting some copies made.

He says that some very important details, especially the events surrounding Ron Gardner's last operation (copy of the eye witness's account of what happened) has been omitted from the project by the Head of the History Department who regarded the circumstances as not suitable for school children!

Naturally he is very concerned about this, however, he has received a total of 145 marks out of a possible 160, which was one of the highest marks in his form class. He is to be congratulated for his fine efforts to record the efforts and sacrifice of one of the members of 30 Squadron.

Recently I had a long telephone call from Doug Black from Napier, who was catching up on the latest news regarding the newsletter derails. He referred to the latest effort concerning a Government Department who were calling for oral details required for a book which the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, intends to publish on the Pacific theatre WW2. They are also issuing questionnaires on this subject for all who participate.


The correct address is:

Megan Hutching

Oral Historian.

Phone (04) 406-6338.


Alternatively the Postal address is:

Radio New Zealand House

PO Box 5364 Wellington.

I would strongly advise that all members still capable of writing, to at least write to the above address (or telephone) and request a questionnaire. I have already done this as I consider it very important to have your memories recorded before it is too late! Never again will this opportunity arise in our lifetime.

My sincere thanks, to all who have taken the time and effort to supply me with articles of interest for our readers.

Compliments of the season to you all

Wally Ingham











Issue No. 37
April 2004


30 Squadron and Servicing Unit Newsletter No. 37
April 2004

Greetings to all members and friends of our organisation and deepest sympathy to all those effected or involved in the clean up of one of the biggest disasters in NZ's history caused by the vast record flooding and destruction of large areas of the lower North Island and parts of the South Island.

I am pleased to advise that Sir Frank Holmes has at last published his long awaited book entitled “Jungle Bomber” and is now available from his home address. The retail price is $20.00 plus P & P from his address.

Frank Holmes
61 Cheviot Rd
Lowry Bay

Frank's memories are different from “The Avengers” in that he and his crew arrived directly from NZ as replacements for one of the 30 Squadron crews and then carried on with his 31 Squadron mates when #30 Squadron aircrews returned to NZ.

Frank eventually carried out three separate tours first as a TBF Pilot, then retraining as a fighter pilot and flying Corsairs with #24 Squadron on Bouganville, and finally at Green Island again with #24 Squadron. His review of the debate that went on about the roll on about what NZ and the RNZAF should play in the latter stages of the Pacific War is most enlightening.

Incidentally Jack Simpson, 30 Squadron Navigator who was erroneously listed as deceased in our book “The Avengers” and subsequently assured us that he was indeed still alive and kicking is also nearing completion of his own memories which I am sure will provide further interesting reading.

In my previous Newsletter #36 I referred to the amazing article published in the US Marine leather-neck magazine concerning a group of Marines visiting Gisborne during Xmas 1942 and my difficulty in finding anyone who was involved as Tom Sheehan had almost reached a brick wall. I decided to broadcast the event through the Radio Pacific talk back show in the hope that some one may be able to confirm or recall the event. Sure enough thanks to some wonderful people who telephoned me I was able to establish that the WAAF Pat Oakden was still alive but very unwell in a Wellington Retirement rest home.


Another person who emailed me via Julie Carr confirmed that his father Allan Shackleton had in fact billeted two Marines at his then Gisborne home during that time and further more is still in touch with one of them who was amazingly the Marine Norm Hatch author of the article.

It appears that a similar event happened in Havlock North very early in 1943 from other members of the same Marine Unit. Again this was kept very quiet and I am slowly receiving more information from a lady who is actually researching the details at this moment. Naturally all this is very time consuming however I will advise further as the full story unfolds.

An interesting letter arrived from a W (Bill) Snowling who had heard about my radio broadcast and enclosed some interesting documents which may be of interest. On his first tour he was attached to the servicing Unit #14 Fighter Squadron (P. 40's) in the Solomon Islands and his second tour was to Green Island where on the 19th November 1944 he attended a parade of RNZAF personnel in dedication of a number of NZ Army personal 3rd Division who were killed when they landed and secured Green Island from the Japanese forces. Our own 30 SU arrived on 15th December 1944 and no doubt were not aware of what took place previously, however the following poem especially written for the occasion by Padre Roland Hart is quoted thus:

Just a few white wooden crosses
On an Island's coral point
But these crosses there remind us
That the world is out of joint

And to us has been committed
The task to set it right
And the only way that we have found
Is to fight and fight and fight

But when the fighting's over
And our work out here is done
We will quietly remember
New Zealand's fallen sons

Recently I had the pleasure of reading a book entitled “Among Those Present” which is the official story of the exploits of the three Fijian Battalions in the Pacific War printed with permission of the Government Printing Office in Honiara 1967.





The second Battalion arrived at Empress Augusta Bay, Bouganville in December 1943 when they were immediately instructed to establish an outpost 35 miles up the Numa Numa trail at an abandoned mission station named IBU in order to watch out for the Japanese who were thought to be assembled in great strength.

What is amazing is that high on a plateau at IBU they levelled out a tiny airstrip in the jungle and from then on all communications were made using a Piper Cub (Grasshopper) light aircraft until finally this had to be abandoned as the Japanese attacks on their tiny outpost made it untenable to carry on.

I too distinctly recall that Piper Cub aircraft for one day when walking up the roadway I was amazed to see a camouflaged Cub aircraft commencing to take off alongside of me and with its tail up skidded around a corner of the road on one wheel and next moment was airborne.

I will never forget the times when those Fijian soldiers would march past our camp and disappear down the Numa Numa Trail happily singing and then 3 or 4 days later would come back tired but happy and carrying various Japanese souvenirs including one very fearful prisoner being dragged along at the end of a rope.

Other times these Fijian soldiers when off duty would arrive at our servicing area to view our TBF's and occasionally after seeking permission would climb up into the cockpit and acting like children would pretend to fly the aircraft with appropriate noises – what wonderful people they were. I am sure many of us will remember them furthermore who were aware that one of these men a Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu was posthumously awarded the Victoria cross while we were still on Bouganville.

I recall some of us were on Parade for the ceremony when the award took place, however details of these will have to wait until a further newsletter. In the meantime I'm sure some of our men will be able to supply some more memories of those wonderful soldiers

Early in January this year Art Surtees, editor of VMBT 232 Newsletter, forwarded an airmail letter advising that one of their members Tom Eldridge and is wife Sandy would be calling in at Wellington and Auckland during their 21 day sea tour of the South Pacific and was hoping that both Gerry Burton and self would be able to make contact.


Unfortunately because my wife suffers terribly from arthritis and back problems my daughter Sue acted as my minder and we enlisted the services of my granddaughter Laura who owns a large car and is very familiar with the sights of Auckland. It was indeed our pleasure to act as hosts to those wonderful people and to renew our fellowship with those whom we shared those hardships with so long ago.

What is noticeable back on the home front these days is the deafening silence from the armourers Once upon a time I was inundated with correspondence from them particularly the late Ho Hum and Eric Kelly who was always telling me how fortunate we other trades were to have such exulted members in our midst. I do know that they are still around somewhere even young Eric Shepherd more commonly known as Rip-Van-Winkle who has a reputation of dancing with all the young and not so young ladies in his neighbourhood, and even my close-by neighbour Les (Bulla) Bland whom I understand was a participant in the Auckland “Round the Bays” fun run or rather he advised me some time ago that he would be a started, perhaps he is still running and looking for the finishing post. One armourer who did write recently was a long lost member by name of A R Fraser more commonly known as “Hank” who advised that he hoped to surprise everyone by turning yup at our next reunion. Perhaps this could be extended to Eric Kelly also to ensure us that he is still capable of representing the armourers.

Recently I have been trying to collect a group of photos covering each section and so far have the servicing party (Riggers and Engine fitters), Armourers, Radio, Instrument, Medical, Electrical and Administration sections but have not been able to find any covering the M.T. section, the idea being to name each individual in order that these can be passed on to a museum for posterity. There is also an aircrew group being passed around which hopefully will be completed in the near future.

Some time ago Mrs L Daniels forwarded me a group photo of 5 men, one of which is her husband the late Bill Daniels whom I had always presumed was a rigger (as listed in our book “The Avengers”). Lucy says she has no idea who the others are.

Fortunately by a stroke of luck I have just turned up a letter written by the late Bruce Chapman of Timaru in March 2001 who was one of our M.T. section and who





writes: “Bill Daniels I knew quite well and used to visit his place in the Whangamata area. When we passed them – by the way he was a petrol-wallah”. Hopefully young George Brasell if he could possibly drag himself away from all his activities may be able to shed some light on the subject. Anyone who may be able to recognise anyone in the photo please advise me. Incidentally Bill Daniels is the one kneeling in the photo.

Barbara Everson has since forwarded me a section of the late Ken Everson's memoirs, which she is endeavouring to complete and presumably have it published in the not to distant future. The section I am endeavouring to read is Chapter 7 “World War II Combat”. Although I have only scanned through some pages as yet, it is indeed an exciting recollection of his personal experiences in the Pacific War. His description of life on Bouganville is most vivid, particularly from a personal point of view. Even his description of building a “Luxury” foxhole with his tent-mate Gerry Ray is both incredible and humorous. Hopefully I will endeavour to publish specific paragraphs of this from time to time, particularly as his experiences were very similar to ours. This is provided that Barbara will authorise permission for these to be printed.

My thanks to all members who still continue to write in with their memories of long ago.


Wally Ingham.







This is where the scanned Newsletters begin

Issue No. 38
June 2004






Letter from Bob "Aussie" Stephen


Issue No. 39
August 2004





Issue No.40
September 2004





Issue No. 41
December 2004







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