Hamilton Branch Meeting - 2018 WARBIRDS OVER WANAKA AIRSHOW

DATE: Wed 25 April 2018 - Lecture
TIME: 19:30 hrs / 7.30pm
VENUE: Glenview Club, Peacockes Road, Glenview, Hamilton.
SPEAKER: Grant Finlay

With ANZAC commemorations coming up, I often reflect on the wastage of lost souls, gallantly lost in both military and civil conflict, and their told and untold stories. Also I reflect on the development of aviation and engineering history through the eras of war and civil periods. The many lives lost during this time also is reflected.

Recently I learned of two Whenuapai air crashes, one in 1942, that of a B17-E Fortress, the 'Texas Tornado', and a B24 Liberator in 1943, both that had crashed on takeoff. These were two separate incidents, with the former on a "secret mission", the latter on a political mission. Last year a TV news item was shown on the crash site of the Fortress, aligned with the main runway, on farmland, that had then exploded when one of the four 500 lb bombs on board detonated, killing all on board. This was the largest NZ air disaster to the then date.

This was well presented and can be accessed on line for further viewing. Along with a friend, whom had been investigating this for some time, we travelled to Whenuapai, and visited the crash site on farmland. The site had been investigated last year by archaeologist Robert Brassey from the Auckland Council, while he had been reporting on building projects for the future of Auckland's housing development situation. Some personal items had been found from boots to ammunition. A large hole had been excavated around the main crash area giving easy access, but now was mostly filled with water. All around, fragments of aluminum mostly molten in form, could be seen, mixed with surrounding clay.

Photos taken the next day after the crash, were found on line, and showed the devastation of the wreckage and the house that had been shifted off its foundations adjacent to the crash site. It was a sad reflection of a past and a nearly forgotten incident, that has no memorial or historic reference, that was about to be turned into a housing project for the future. Eleven lives were lost. What were their missions? History may one day tell us. Share what you know on this incident, and find historic online sites that seek testimonies for generational and historic values.

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