Cambridge Air Force Reunion

Here are some photos from the 2004 Air Force Reunion, which was held to officially launch the Wings over Cambridge website. The reunion saw Cambridge and ex-Cambridge airmen and airwomen come form far and wide to meet up and celebrate their history in the RNZAF, RAF, WAAF and other Air Forces. Most of the Air Force veterans attending had served in World War Two, and there were also widows of airmen and other family members in attendance. It was quite a remarkable day all in all. As well as the website launch and an afternoon tea that was kindly provided by volunteers from the Cambridge Historical Society and others, we also unveiled a special plaque to commemorate the people of Cambridge and their contribution to the Air Forces in WWII. This is situated outside of the Cambridge Town Hall still today, and will hopefully be a permanent reminder that people from this town contributed greatly in the World Wars. We were also lucky to have a very interesting keynote speaker, Bryan Cox, who was born and bred in Cambridge, and is well known as an author. He told us about his days in the RNZAF as a fighter pilot.

Thanks to kindly Wayne Timmo of the Cambridge Edition newspaper, Eris Parker of Cambridge Museum and Bruce Cooke for supplying the following photos. .Here are further detaisl of the reunion.

Venue: The Victorian Rooms, Cambridge Town Hall, Victoria Street , Cambridge

Date: Saturday the 13th of November 2004

Time: 12.00pm till 4.00pm



Cambridge Air Force veterans and their families gather in the Victoria Rooms of the Cambridge Town Hall for the presentations by Bryan Cox and Dave Homewood. From right, seated with back to camera: - unknown; Norm Todd; Merv Cronin; Ian James; Lenore Todd; Janet James... the lady standing with red hair is Shirley Ross; standing in black shirt is Ray Hirst; and in blue shirt standing is Dave Homewood. (photo: Bruce Cooke)



Dave Homewood, the reunion organiser and researcher/webmaster of this site, welcomes the many veterans and guests to the reunion. This website was projected onto the screen so the veterans could see the results of the research and their contributions. (photo: Bruce Cooke)



Ex-RNZAF fighter pilot Bryan Cox, who was born in Cambridge, gives an interesting presentation about the Air Force in wartime and his own personal story. (photo: Bruce Cooke)



There was very little room left to sit when everyone had arrived. Here the audience are enthralled by Bryan Cox's interesting talk. (photo: Eris Parker)




The Cambridge Air Force Plaque. The plaque is situated beneath a flowering chestnut tree outside of the Cambridge Town Hall in Jubilee Gardens. The tree was already there, but has been dedicated as 'our' tree now, the Air Force Memorial Tree, along with the plaque.

During our reunion the plaque was given a moving dedication ceremony by Squadron Leader Ross Horton, who is an Air Force Padre at RNZAF Base Whenuapai. Several members of Ross's family live in Cambridge, and his links to the town and the current RNZAF made him the perfect choice for the ceremony.

The following day, on the 14th of November 2004, during the Armistace Day ceremony, the plaque was officially unveiled by Air Commodore Terry Gardner who represented the Royal New Zealand Air Force, accompanied by Dave Homewood who instigated the plaque and Cambridge Air Force project. A brief ceremony for this unveiling was conducted by the Reverend Geoff Crawshaw of Cambridge, but was sadly curtailed due to wet weather and the rest of the commemorations being held inside the Town Hall. However, we'd had perfect weather on the 13th for the reunion which was the important part whilst everyone was together.

We hope this memorial tree and plaque will be a long-lasting reminder of the sacrifices made by scores of men and women who came from the Cambridge district, and who came to live here after the war, who'd served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and other Allied Air Forces such as the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and the New Zealand Women's Auxiliary Air Force. It is situated in a very prominent and beautiful spot in the town, and since its unveiling I have witnessed many people stopping to read the plaque and contemplate its meaning.



Above: RNZAF Padre Ross Horton, who is currently based at RNZAF Base Whenuapai, but who has family in Cambridge, conducts a moving dedication ceremony for the new Air Force plaque. Cambridge Air Force Veterans and their families look on. (Photo Wayne Timmo, Cambridge Edition, 13th of November 2004)



Ross Horton prepares to dedicate the plaque while the veterans gather around. (photo: Bruce Cooke)



Ross Horton reads the dedication service for the Air Force plaque and tree. The tree just happened to have bloomed that week with its lovely pink flowers (Photo Eris Parker)

Among the prayers and words that Ross read, he recited this wonderful poem, so it was remembered that the Air Force personnel we were dedicating the plaque to was not just aircrew members, but also the groundcrews.

By Flight Mechanic E. Sykes (1942)

Wherever you walk, you will hear people talk,
of the men who go up in the air,
of the daredevil way, they go into the fray;
Facing death without turning a hair.

They'll raise a big cheer and buy lots of beer,
for the pilot who's come home on leave,
but they don't give a jigger, for a flight mech or rigger,
with nothing but "props" on his sleeve.

They just say "Nice day" - and then turn away,
with never a mention of praise,
for the poor bloody erk, who does all the work,
and just orders his own beer - and pays !

They've never been told, of the hours in the cold,
that he spends sealing Germany 's fate,
how he works on a kite, till all hours of the night,
and then turns up next morning at eight.

He gets no rake-off, for working 'til take-off,
or helping the aircrew prepare,
but whenever there's trouble - it's "Quick at the double",
the man on the ground must be there.

Each flying crew, could confirm it as true,
that they know what this man's really worth,
they know that he's part of the RAF's heart,
even though he stays close to the earth.

He doesn't want glory, but please tell his story,
spread a little of his fame around,
He's just one of a few - so give him his due,
and "Three Cheers for the man on the ground


Admiring the plaque: Left to right - Ernie Gorringe (looking downwards); Tris Hill (RNZAF pilot); Lenore Todd (wife of Norm); Norman Todd (obscured, RNZAF Engineer and Flight Engineer); unknown; Howard McLeod (in background, brother-in-law of Leslie Buttimore); Dorothy Ford (wife of Eric Ford). (Photo Eris Parker)



Dave Homewood in the red tie, Paul Bevan obscured behind him, Ray Tocker (now RSA Presidant) in the blue tie, Jack Morris in Panama hat, and Merv Cronin in blue shirt. (Photo Eris Parker)



Left to right: Ross Horton; Lenore Todd, Norm Todd, Ernie Gorringe, unknown lady, unknown lady in background, Marianne Robertson with sunglasses, unknown old lady in front of her, Shirley Blayney, Ron Watts (Photo Eris Parker)



Left to right: John Richardson, Wynne Cox, Bryan Cox, Ross Horton, Dave Homewood, Merv Cronin, Esme Ganley (?), Ray Tocker, unknown, unknown, Jack Morris, Wayne Timmo (Photo Eris Parker)



(Photo Eris Parker)



Ross Horton conducting the ceremony. Behind him is Wayne Timmo, editor of the Cambridge Edition newspaper. (Photo Eris Parker)



Some of the many verterans and their families at the dedication ceremony. Some of those seen here in the front row are Margaret Soanes (Cambridge WAAF); Dorothy Ford; Ron Noice (RNZAF Air Bomber); Margaret Richardson; John Richardson (Pilot) Garry Blayney (Navigator), Bryan Cox (Pilot), Wynne Cox, and obscured are Shirley Ross, Des Hooker, Ray Hirst and Ian James, among many others.
(Photo Eris Parker)


Admiring the new plaque. Maree Beech in the green top, Margaret Morris right of her, and May Calvert in the blue suit. (Photo Eris Parker)



The Dedication ceremony over. Left to right: Mike Cater (obscured, using video camera); Ian James (Fleet Air Arm pilot); Margot Morris (WAAF); Janis James (Ian's wife); unknown, unknown, Dave Homewood (reunion organiser and webmaster); ? Ross (Jim Ross's son in background); unknown in background; Ross Horton (RNZAF Padre) and Paul Bevan (reunion helper). (Photo Eris Parker)



Veterans and family members admire the new plaque. (Photo Bruce Cooke)



As the gathered veterans disperse, heading back into the hall for a cuppa, our guest speaker Bryan Cox, a former RNZAF Corsair pilot, admires the new plaque. (Photo Wayne Timmo, Cambridge Edition, 13th of November 2004)




Above: Former pilots Peter Cornwall and John Richardson and former navigator Garry Blayney talk about old times (photo: Eris Parker)



Above: Pam Morris (wife of John); Grace Ronayne (sister of John, wife of late RNZAF pilot Graeme Ronayne); Margaret Morris (WAAF, sister of Grace and John); John Morris (RNZAF Bomber pilot). May Calvert (widow of Roy Calvert) (Photo Eris Parker)



Above: Shirley Blayney (wife of Garry Blayney), Meg ?, Shirley Ross (wife of the late Jim Ross) and Wynne Cox (wife of Bryan Cox) (photo: Eris Parker)



Ray Hirst (RNZAF Flight Mechanic), Ian James (Fleet Air Arm pilot), Jan James (Ian's wife) and Pat Hirst (Ray's wife). (photo: Eris Parker)



Nancy Fisher and Julia White, both ex-Womens Auxiliary Air Force ladies, and both widows of RNZAF airmen. (photo: Eris Parker)



Ron Noice, who was an RNZAF Air Bomber, and a box full of memories. Ron was shot down on what was to be his 35th and last operation of a tour, and spent the end of the war as a Prisoner of War. (photo: Eris Parker)



Dee Harris and Marianne Robertson, the daughters of Julia White, travelled great distances to attend the special day, which they thoroughly enjoyed. (photo: Eris Parker)



There were many interesting Air Force related displays inside the hall, which attracted much attention. (Photo Bruce Cooke)



Ron Watts and Tris Hill enjoy a chat during aftenoon tea. Both were pilots who went to fight with the Royal Air Force. (photo: Eris Parker)



Former No. 488 (NZ) Squadron commander Ron Watts in the foreground, with Tris Hill, Shirley Ross and Cecil Buttimore in the background. Cecil's brother Leslie Buttimore was killed in the wartime RNZAF whilst training in Scotland. (photo: Eris Parker)



Tris Hill, Cecil Buttimore, Shirley McLeod (Cecil's sister, and herself a veteran of the WWII Navy) and her husband Howard McLeod. (photo: Eris Parker)



Ron Watts, John Richardson, Margaret Richardson and Nancy Fisher. (photo: Eris Parker)



Shirley Blayney, Shirley Ross, Wynne Cox and Maud Walker. Maud was Jim Ross's cousin, and good friends with the Ross and the Cox families. Her brother Maurice was in the Cambridge Air Training Corps, and she has been a huge help in the Cambridge Air Force project in tracking down people and remembering helpful information.





Cambridge's Bruce Cooke kindly displayed his collection of World War Two RNZAF models. They included a Sunderland, Oxford, Hudson, Ventura, Anson, Harvard, Tiger Moth, Dakota, Avenger, Catalina, Dauntless, Corsair and two Kittyhawks. (Photo Bruce Cooke)



We did not have a register unfortunately and as so many more people attended than we actually expected, but we have tried to piece together a list of people who attended. We know this list is incomplete, because there were a number of people who's names we didn't get to record. At just one point in the day, Paul Bevan did a headcount and counted 75 people. Not everyone stayed the whole day and some people didn't arrive till late or near the end (including my parents) so we probably got more like 90 people through on the day. If you can add to or correct this list please do so:

2011 Update - If the people below are known to have passed away since the reunion I will add in RIP

Marie Beech

Paul Bevan

Garry Blayney

Shirley Blayney

Cecil Buttimore

Mark Buttimore

May Calvert

Mike Cater

Charlie Christiansen

John Coles

Sally Coles

Bruce Cooke

Margot Cornwall

Peter Cornwall

Bryan Cox

Wynne Cox

Merv Cronin

Nancy Fisher

Dorothy Ford

Eric Ford

John Gall

Esme Ganley

Pam Garrett

Tony Garrett

Ernie Gorringe

Dee Harris

Tristram Hill

Ethne Hill

Partricia Hirst

Ray Hirst

Gordon Homewood

Judy Homewood

Lynda Homewood

Wendy Homewood

Des Hooker

Esther Hooker

Ross Horton

Ian James

Janet James

Howard McLeod

Shirley McLeod

Olive Montgomery

Jack Morris

Margaret Morris

Pamela Morris

Ron Noice

John Richardson

Margaret Richardson

Marianne Robertson

Grayce Ronayne

Shirley Ross

Tony Ross

Michael Ross

Tim Ross

Simon Ross

Bert Sinclair

Margaret Soanes

Richard Stowers

Robert Stowers

Wayne Timmo

Ray Tocker

Barbara Tocker

Lenore Todd

Norman Todd

Ashley Tuck (briefly)

Eve Tuck (briefly)

Maud Walker

Ron Watts

Julia White






































































Niece of Tris Hill, also helping out

Helping out

Navigatorin WWII

Wife of Garry Blayney

Brother of Leslie Buttimore (who was WWII WOp/AG)

Cecil Buttimore's son

Widow of Roy Calvert (who was Pilot in WWII)

Helping out, Filming

Flight Mechanic in WWII

Husband of Sally Coles

Daughter of RNZAF pilot Tony Firth (WWII RNZAF pilot)

Helping out

Wife of Peter Cornwall

Pilot in WWII

Pilot WWII (and guest speaker)

Wife of Bryan Cox

Friend of Bert Sinclair

WAAF, and widow of Roy Fisher (who was WWII Pilot)

Wife of Eric Ford

Flight Mechanic in WWII

Helping out

Widow of Eddie Ganley (who was RNZAF WWII)

Friend of Olive Montgomery

Friend of Olive Montgomery

MT Driver in WWII

Daughter of Julia White


Wife of Tristram

Wife of Ray Hirst

Flight Mechanic in WWII

Father of Dave Homewood

Mother of Dave Homewood

Sister of Dave Homewood

Sister of Dave Homewood

General Service Hand in WWII

Wife of Des Hooker

RNZAF Padre Officiating on Unveiling

Pilot in Fleet Air Arm

Wife of Ian James

Shirley McLeod's husband

Sister of Leslie Buttimore (who was WWII WOp/AG)

WAAF Stores in WWII

Pilot in WWII, POW

WAAF Driver, sister of Jack Morris

Wife of Jack Morris

Air Bomber in Lancasters, POW

Pilot (Pilot in WWII)

wife of John Richardson

Daughter of Julia White

Sister and widow of RNZAF personnel

Widow of Jim Ross (who was WWII Flight Engineer)

Son of Jim Ross

Son of Jim Ross

Son of Jim Ross

Son of Jim Ross

Pilot in WWII


Son of Bob Stowers (RNZAF Pilot WWII)

Pilot in WWII

Editor of Cambridge Edition

RSA Representative, postwar RNZAF

Ray Tocker's wife

Wife of Norman Todd

RNZAF Flight Mechanic and Flight Engineer WWII

Friend of Dave Homewood

Friend of Dave Homewood

Cousin of Jim Ross


WAAF Librarian WWII



I could not have got this whole day together without a lot of help from a lot of people. The greatest help came from Eris Parker from Cambridge Museum, and my family, especially my dad Gordon Homewood, and I must thank the following people and organisations for their wonderful support:
- Mike Cater
- Paul Bevan
- Marie Beech
- John Gall
- Susan Hague
- Bryan Cox
- Ross Horton
- Bruce Cooke
- Rob Feisst of the Cambridge Community Board
- Amanda Scott and her excelent staff at the Cambridge Information Centre
- Liz Stolwyck of the Waipa District Council
- Nelson Goodley and Ray Tocker of the Cambridge Returned Services Association
- Geoff Crawshaw for the official unveiling
- Air Commodore Terry Gardner for the official unveiling
- New Zealand Post
- The Cambridge Senior Citizens for providing crockery
- All those who attended making the day such a great success, and all those who contributed who have been forgotten here


If anyone who attended has more photographs we'd love to see them and have the chance to copy and add them to this site please. Unfortunately we didn't get the chance to photograph every single person there as it was such a busy day, so we'd love to receive more photos. Also if you see any mistakes or can add further names to the captions above, please contact me