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A magnificent plane at Whitianga Airport

Whitianga airfield is ideal for this type of training, the aero club having recently spent many thousands of dollars upgrading the grass surface, and of course its’ proximity to Ardmore being only a ten-minute flight away. This Goodyear built Corsair is the only remaining example of the 424 Corsairs operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force both here and in the Pacific during World War Two (WWII). After the war it was taken to Hamilton to be scrapped but by good fortune it was saved from the scrap heap, the only Corsair that was saved, and for many years it was stored beside Asplins garage...

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Reflecting back in time

The photo above was taken just last week and the photo below is of the early Whitianga Hotel. He has been frequenting the hotel since the 1970s. He remembers the days when Whitianga was pretty much a holiday town and you could always find The Whitianga Hotel packed to the rafters on New Year’s Eve, with holiday makers singing along with guitars and enjoying a good time. Even the local constabulary standing outside the door, amicably keeping an eye on things, enjoyed the festivities. Those days were remembered for having a few drinks at the pub, buying a few roadies from the wholesale next...

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This truck is the ‘real McCoy’

The Mad Max: Fury Road truck trnasported from New Zealand to star in the movie. This was a Pacific Truck and Trailer Company truck, brought out to NZ to carry pine forest logs. It belongs to Barry Caulfield who is now retired in Thames. Outside a large shed there is an assembly of machinery parked in a paddock facing the highway. It is the truck that captures my attention. When driving past, I imagined it was the largest Mack truck I had ever seen. When finally, I had time to venture closer I found it was twice as big as the Mack’s I knew, and it was not a Mack, it was a ‘Pacific’. First...

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Who was Von Luckner? Part Three

There was a major problem for Von Luckner having to feed close to 300 prisoners although his supplies had been supplemented from such cargoes as chickens and pigs from a British cargo vessel. Consequently, when a French barque was captured, he put his prisoners aboard, but much reduced the rigging, so the Seeadler could escape before being reported. The Royal Navy were obviously intent on sinking the Seeadler and had cruisers and armed merchant cruisers in the area of operation while the captures continued with the sinking of several American ships as they had since entered the war. Von Luckner...

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Who was Von Luckner 1881 -1966? Part Two

Captain and Count Von Luckner. However, the chief mate defied the Russian captain who had threatened him with a harpoon, and instead launched a lifeboat with volunteers. One of the albatrosses seized Von Luckner’s hand as he held on in desperation, while it pecked him continually with its beak. The albatross beat the air with its wings trying to rise keeping Von Luckner a float also attracting other birds which gave the rescue party a reference point thus saving the boy’s life. The rescue party in the high seas were upended and pitched into the water while trying to swing over the davits....

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“It’s never too late to come back” just 300 of them

Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Leslie Lee. I knew I had seen one in my deceased mother’s jewellery box and after a quick search I had it in my hand. A Google search later and a cross reference with Dad’s service record and his remarkable story unfolded. Dad’s story: Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Leslie LEE – 41916 Dad, a customs officer from Tuakau, near Auckland, enlisted in February 1941, aged 19. In July he embarked for flight training school in Canada, gaining his wings as an RAF Pilot Officer later that year. After three more months of operational training in the U.K. he was sent to Egypt...

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Our oldest veteran – Private Peter Sheehan

Private Peter William Sheehan was in the army for approximately three years and for two of those years, he served in the infantry in Egypt and Italy. His number for service was 449 437.  He received a back full of shrapnel and some of that shrapnel remains in his body. Peter says it works its way out from time to time showing up just under the skin surface. Peter is a member of the Whitianga Bowling Club and until recently he helped with maintenance on a daily basis. He was absent from this years Anzac dawn parade as he had a stint in hospital. Peter lives with his daughter, Chrissie and son,...

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Anzac Day mishap put right

Johnathon had concluded his active service some years prior and had returned to be with his family for the Anzac service. To be asked to carry one of the flags at the head of the parade on Anzac Day was a great honour.  The memories of what he experienced in war have not left him, but neither has his pride in serving his country and his love for New Zealand dimmed in any way. It was a mistake that the flag was taken from him and the ‘why’ was never resolved – a misunderstanding, no doubt.  The RSA members who organised the parade were embarrassed and upset that this occurred. Fast forward...

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