Battle of Britain

After all the excitement of the America’s Cup drama this morning, a quiet Sunday drive seemed to be the order of the day. We set off from Kaiatai with our first stop at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom at Awanui where we viewed woodwork made from 45,000yo swamp kauri before continuing along the road with the idea of heading out to Waipapakauri Beach. However, the best laid plans were soon to go slightly awry. As we approached the settlement before the turnoff there seemed to be some sort of ceremony being held at the memorial site of the Waipapakauri Airport. Not ones to drive on by, we decided to stop and check out what was going on. We were soon to discover that it was the local memorial to Battle of Britain. September 15th is the day chosen to commemorate the Battle of Britain as on this day in 1940, the Luftwaffe embarked on their largest bombing attack yet, forcing the engagement of the entirety of the RAF in defence of London and the South East, which resulted in a decisive victory in favour of Britain that proved to mark a turning point in Britain’s favour.

We stayed and listened to the speeches, watched the Air Training Corps put through their paces, and returned service men & women honour their colleagues. We were reminded of all the ceremonies we attended in Oamaru where Alexandra was a member of the local ATC squadron.

20130916-104741.jpg Local ATC cadets forming the guard.

Originally established in 1933 as a small local aerodrome, Waipapakauri was commandeered as an air force base by the RNZAF at the outbreak of war in 1939. In 1941, when Japan entered the war, this was New Zealand’s most northern airport. A Reconnaissance squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air-force was stationed here. At the peak of activity there were eighteen aircraft, 26 officers, 250 airmen and 110 personnel from the Women’s Auxiliary. A further 200 soldiers from the Home Guard and an artillery anti-aircraft battery were also stationed nearby.

All that remains are the remnants of an underground operations bunker and the Waipapakauri Hotel which, during hostilities, had been used as a hospital and officers’ mess. Alongside the Hotel is where the memorial is positioned.

We paid our respects before carrying on with our travels.

20130916-104805.jpg Roy in the queue to place a poppy.

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2 Responses to “Battle of Britain”

  1. Stuartinnz Says:

    Glad you liked Waipapakauri, it’s a fascinating place, with its ‘overground underground’ bunker, and the hotel which was officer’s mess, hospital and bar all at the same time during WWII. NZ Historic Places Trust has registered both the command bunker and the hotel, so I had quite a bit of involvement in providing historical information when the memorial was erected a few years ago.

  2. Alex Vannini Says:

    Awwww gives me fond memories of ATC!

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