Serial Number: NZ401424
RNZAF Trade: Observer
Date of Enlistment: June 1940
Rank Achieved: Flying Officer
Date of Birth: Born 30th of January 1920, in Cambridge
Personal Details: Harry 'matriculated' from Kings College, Auckland. Before the war, he was a bank clerk at the Union Bank in Cambridge where he worked with his brother Carl. He had resided with Mr and Mrs Hounslow of Leamington before he joined the RNZAF. He returned to Cambridge after the war and lived here till 1960.
Service Details: Harry's son Tony says, "On entering the RNZAF, he trained on Avro Ansons (from his logbook) and as I recall, when overseas he flew briefly in Beaufighters before going on to India as a navigator on the D.H. Mosquito, guarding the Burmese border to prevent the Japanese from crossing into India. He lived (and perhaps fought) alongside the Ghurka for a time, recounting one or two stories to me from that period."
Harry was the Navigator on Bristol Blenheims of No. 18 Squadron, Royal Air Force, serving in Malta and the Mediterranean region, according to the Official History volume New Zealanders With The Royal Air Force.
Tony Duignan says, "I was unaware he had served in Malta with 18 Sqdn on Blenheims until it was brought to my attention on your excellent website. Also I believe, from what he told me years ago, that he was on Wellingtons in the Far East. At some stage he contracted amoebic dysentery, and was hospitalised along with a mate, for around 6 months,in Cairo. When they were released from hospital with a strict warning to limit their drinking to '' a few beers'', they immediately got hold of a 'stone jar' of the local moonshine made from apricots (quote:a bit rough, with bits floating around in it), got legless, and were picked up in a back alley by some american MP's and driven back to camp in a jeep."
"He also spoke a 'smattering' of Arabic, Tony continues, "He spoke about coming home on leave, I presume in 1944. He got a ride back to NZ with some "yanks in a DC3". When he asked them where they were landing, they told him "at Wenyuappy". He was surprised they found New Zealand at all. It must have been a very successful leave, because I was born in October 1945."
As Tony alludes to above, the Waikato Independent reported that Harry returned to New Zealand on furlough leave in September 1944 for several months rest after four years in the RNZAF. He must have been commissioned after that point as he was a Warrant Officer when he returned home.
Details of Death: Harry died on the 15th of April 1996, aged 76
Buried at: Leamington Cemetery, Leamington, Cambridge
Connection with Cambridge: Harry was born in Cambridge and he lived in here up till and after the war
Waikato Independent reports that mentioned William Harry "Digger" Duignan
RNZAF 2 Sept 1940
Safe and Well 18 July 1941
Warrant Officer – Returned Home 22 Sept 1944
Welcome Home 13 Dec 1944
Thanks to Harry's brother Carl and his sons Tony Duignan and the late David Duignan, plus other members of the Duignan family for their valued assistance with this page. Photo kindly supplied by the late David Duignan.