Roy Tucker 

Information and photos via his Son, Graeme.


The following is a brief outline of the war experiences of  Roy Tucker RNZAF NZ39396,  ground crew, Pacific theatre.  

Copyright: Unless otherwise credited, text and photos in the following pages have been supplied by Graeme Tucker, who retains copyright to them.



I applied for the Royal New Zealand Air Force and eventually was accepted for entrance in July 1939. I was posted to Hobsonville and Flight 40 on an Engine Flight Mechanic's course. 

I was the only one to gain Leading Aircraftsman Rank, no doubt my Technical Correspondence School course showed up. I was then posted to Wigram and into the Engine Repair Section to help set up the repair and overhaul of the Armstrong Siddeley Panther 14 cylinder engines for the Fairey Gordon aircraft. During this time, I was required to go into N.Z. Grinding and Gear Company (now MACE ENGINEERING) for tool manufacture. I was promoted to Corporal in June and sent on the first Fitter 2E Course at the new Technical Training Station at Rongotai, Wellington in July 1940. After a short spell at Whenuapai, I was back at Wigram Engine Section again.

I was posted Overseas in Dec. 1942 but did not get away until the middle of January 1943, and sailed to Espiritu Santos, New Hebrides.  About 220 of us went on the R.N.Z.N. Monowai, arriving at Segond Channel on Jan. 29. We set up camp in a coconut plantation and things were pretty primitive. This was not too far from No.3 (G.R) Squadron who had a camp in the jungle near the end of the Pallikulo Airstrip. We were to be RNZAF No.4 Repair Depot; but first were attached to the US NAVY for experience on US aircraft which the RNZAF were about to get. About 20 of us were attached to Lion 1, later called Aviation Overhaul, and the rest were to work on aircraft at the airstrip. After about 3 months, about 200 were sent home to set up the SBD Dauntless dive bomber and TBF Avenger torpedo squadrons, the rest of us set up the Repair Depot after first doing some building construction.

On arrival at Santos we were the second RNZAF lot to the forward area as 14 Squadron had arrived about April. While at Santos, I was required to show the RNZAF Chief Engineer, Group Capt. M. S. Keogh around the US Navy Workshops and he informed me that they were setting up a large Repair Depot in the Hamilton area and that he would have me posted there on my return to NZ.  (I put in for a Ventura Squadron, but was posted to Hamilton!) 

No.4 R.D. was moved to Guadalcanal (Cactus) on Kukum Fighter strip.  At the Canal we repaired P-40 Kittyhawks, Ventura Bombers and some earlier stuff, a Hudson Bomber. At Kukum strip it was handy to the beach and a good place for swimming. At the Canal we saw little of the natives as they had moved back into the hills when the Japanese arrived. For our time at the Canal the Japanese on land had been withdrawn except for a few, and they kept up to the north but their bombers and fighters were overhead pretty often, and the odd submarine would send a few shells over.  

I returned to NZ in late March 1944. Flew Canal to Santos in a very new Lockheed Lodestar, and then Santos to NZ in a C47, non stop 9 hours. On leave back in NZ, I received a posting to the Engine Shop in Hamilton and a promotion to Sergeant. On arriving at Hamilton and reporting to Flt.Lt. Norm Kitto, I was put in charge of engine accessories, repairs and overhauls, also to keep a check on Te Rapa Stores for new arrivals of engine spares and tools or equipment, and also to cover engine test bench problems.

In June 1945 I was posted to the Royal Australian Air Force, a total of 27 of us were sent for engineering training on the new P-5I Mustang Fighter. We flew to Sydney in a C47, then by train to Melbourne. First to the RAAF Technical Training School at Ascot Vale, then to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corp. factory where they were both manufacturing Mustangs as well as assembling US kit sets. All were fitted with Packard manufactured Rolls Royce Merlin Engines. We were then sent to RAAF Station LAVERTON Engine Shop where they were repairing and overhauling Merlin engines. The Station had about 18000 personnel. While there the Atom Bombs were dropped on Japan, and the war was ended.

We went by train to Sydney and spent some time with little money awaiting some travel to NZ. Finally we were allocated to a Royal Canadian Air Force Transport Liberator, B-24 Aircraft. We took off late in the afternoon in mid October. It rained all the way across the Tasman Sea and in the dark the crew had some difficulty in locating Whenuapai and insufficient fuel to divert to Norfolk Island. After a long time flying, they finally located Whenuapai and landed on the short runway, but too far along it and ran off the end across a deep ditch which knocked off the landing gear! We came to a stop in heavy rain. The nose was torn off and fuel flowed from engines but there was no fire and everyone got out without injuries. Eventually some transport arrived and conveyed all to the Station where after some recording of personnel and a quick medical, we were taken to RNZAF PORT DEPOT in Auckland, then sent on leave.

After a weeks leave, I reported back to Hamilton to find that No.1 Repair Depot was being transferred to Ohakea, and quite a lot of equipment had already been dispatched.    I was posted to Ohakea to set up the Engine Shop to repair and overhaul the Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Engines for the Dakota C47 & Catalina aircraft. (R1830, 82,92 &90C) It required some trips back to Hamilton to arrange transfer of tools and equipment.

In early 1946 I was promoted to Flight Sergeant and remained in the Air Force at Ohakea until I had completed my 8 year engagement, leaving on July 18, 1947.  

Footnote: When Roy left the RNZAF he continued in aviation throughout the rest of his working life, starting with National Airways Corporation in charge of the engine shop at Palmerston North (Milson), and from there to Christchurch in 1948, and remained in charge of the engine shop there until his retirement in 1981.



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