The second visit of the band occurred on Wednesday the 25th of March 1942. Their objectives were to entertain and to entice the locals to give generously towards the ‘Bonds For Bombers' scheme. These war bonds were a way to raise money for the RNZAF to buy new bomber aircraft. The money given to the Government was considered a loan with an extra 3% return when the war was over. Cambridge rallied to the cause.
In the weeks leading up to the band's visit, large front-page adverts and several articles publicised the event in several issues of the Waikato Independent newspaper. Because the band would begin its display in the afternoon on a Wednesday, Mayor Edgar James decreed that shops should be closed early to allow everyone to attend the performance, ensuring a good turn out. Local schools too were encouraged to allow children to attend the event.
The fundraising for the ‘Bonds For Bombers' campaign began on Monday the 23rd of March and ran till the following Friday. The highlight would of course be the visit by the band, but residents of Cambridge and the district were encouraged to give generously to the cause all week.
It wasn't just Cambridge involved in the scheme however, ‘Bonds For Bombers' week was running all over New Zealand, so having the RNZAF Band visiting was no doubt a bit of a coup, and it can be assumed that the band had a very busy week traveling the country.
The event seems to have gone very well indeed. The Waikato Independent gave a rousing description of the band's visit in the paper on the following Friday. The article stated, “… all the streets were thronged to witness the visit of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band and planes added stimulus to the “Bonds For Bombers” Campaign, which is at present being conducted in Cambridge and throughout New Zealand.”
The article describes the afternoon in detail from its beginning, shortly after 2.00pm when all the shops had shut. A procession, “consisting of several army cars and armoured cars, the Royal Air Force Band, a detachment of troops, the WWSA, St John Ambulance Nursing Division and army trucks moved down Victoria Street from the Town Hall, along Duke Street, and back to the Town Hall, the whole then doing a circuit of Jubilee Park - the band, troops, WWSA and Nursing Division halting in front of the Town Hall, while the mechanised section continued up Victoria Street.”
To explain certain elements made in this statement, the band was of course in fact the RNZAF Band, not the RAF Band as the newspaper wrongly stated. The ‘detachment of troops' was most likely to be members of the NZ Territorials or perhaps even regular force Army troops who were in camp at the Cambridge Raceway in Taylor Street, as this was an Army training depot during the war. Alternately they may have been from the military camp at Hautapu, just north of Cambridge. The WWSA, or Woman's War Service Auxiliary was a volunteer organisation that aided in many patriotic efforts throughout the war. And Jubilee Park, for those Cambridge people who are unaware – as it is very rarely referred to by its proper name these days – is the piece of parkland that the Town Clock and Cenotaph stand on. Due to recent upgrades in the town, Jubilee Park actually butts right up to the front of the Town Hall, but during the war the two were separated by Kirkwood Street, so the park could be driven (and marched) right around like an island.
The paper continues the story, “Jubilee Park being triangular, enabled the procession, as it was moving round, at one period to form a huge V.” The paper's mention of this as seemingly having some significance no doubt relates to the "V for Victory” campaign that was prominent in the Allied countries at the time, lead by Winston Churchill, in which the letter ‘V' spurred on morale.
A highlight of the proceedings was a visit, “promptly at 2.30pm” of three RNZAF bombers in formation to make a flypast. The papers says they were “flying at low altitude, and made several circuits of the town before returning to their base.” Sadly the reporter gave no hint of what type the aircraft were, but at that time of the war if they were indeed real bombers, they would have to have been either Lockheed Hudsons or Vickers Vincents or Vildebeests. The latter two were very similar large biplane bombers, whereas the Hudson was a modern twin-tailed, twin-engined monoplane.
Alternately they could have been training aircraft such as Airspeed Oxfords, Avro Ansons or maybe even single engined trainer planes that were exaggerated in the press. However it does seem likely that they could have been actual bombers to tie in with the “Bonds For Bombers” Campaign. The nearest RNZAF Station with a runway was Rukuhia (now Hamilton International Airport), but this was No 1 Repair Depot and had no squadrons based on site permanently, so perhaps the aircraft had flown down from Auckland, or perhaps Rotorua or Tauranga, which also had large stations.
As for the band itself, the newspaper reported, “The marching and playing of the band was a treat to see and hear, and the troops, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Stanley, acquitted themselves very creditably, as also did the WWSA and the Nursing Division.”
The Mayor, Mr Edgar James, addressed the crowd from the steps of the Town Hall. After welcoming the band and its conductor, Flight Lieutenant Gladstone Hill, to Cambridge, he outlined the purposes of the display. This was followed by a speech by Mr Mervyn Wells about the “Bonds For Bombers” Campaign. The subject was no doubt close to his heart because his son, the fighter ace Bill Wells, was flying Spitfires in Britain that were bought through similar fundraising by New Zealand towns and cities. Mr Wells remarked that up till noon that day they had received £2000 towards the fund. It was reported that the Post Office took £1050 worth of sales that day alone, and Wells mentioned that the bonds would now be for sale at the Town Hall too.
At this point the Mayor called upon Mrs Wells, who purchased a bond publicly at the Town Hall, kicking off a flood of buying. In the flurry of bond sales that followed a further £1197 worth were sold at the Town Hall. The paper states that the band then performed “the highlight of the afternoon, “ which was, “the display given by the band of ceremonial slow and quick marching in front of the Town Hall. The band executed its movements with precision and finesse, and the playing left nothing to be desired.”
“The slow marching was executed to Maori tunes, waltz time, and for the quick marches they played ‘National Emblem' and ‘Light of Foot'. Among other selections played was ‘The Skaters Waltz', some very pretty work being done by the drummers during the rendering of this piece.”
The article concluded by stating that “Members of the Ladies' Patriotic Committee and the WWSA entertained the Air Force Band and soldiers to afternoon tea in the Town Hall after the ceremony.”
But the fervor didn't quite finish there, the paper also reported on the amount of money that the fundraising had made. By today's standards it seems quite astonishing.
On the following day, the Thursday, it said £3467 had been raised, and by the following day that figure had increased to £5832.
By the following Wednesday, April 1st , a week after the Band had visited, the paper reported the sum had tallied to an incredible £12,188. Not bad for eight days work in such a small town. In those days that amount was a fortune. The paper also says, “It is interesting to note that although the Post Office was only open until mid-day on Saturday the sales for the morning exceeded those of any previous day.”
Despite the fact the ‘Bonds For Bombers' Campaign was meant to be a five-day affair, money continued to pour in for much longer, and by Wednesday 8th of April 1942, the campaign had raised a total exceeding £14,000. The report mentioned that “the response in Cambridge was a general one, and large numbers of residents contributed according to their respective purses. There was no very large amounts, £500 being the limit of any one application. Included in the more substantial amounts was £230 from the Cambridge branch of the New Zealand Farmers Union. In the amount contributed were 86 £100 bonds, 409 £10 bonds and 998 £1 bonds.” That breakdown of figures shows how many people were willing to contribute to the cause. Also mentioned was the fact that between £400 and £500 of the total were “telephoned promises” which were yet to be collected.