Anzac Day is a time to remember – this is for my Mother & Father who I miss greatly. They both served in WWII.
In Memory of my Mum and Dad, I miss you, but you will forever be remembered on this day, and every day by your family. Your 4 Children, 13 Grand Children and 10 Great Grand Children and brothers and Sister-in-laws all love you both.
With all my love Roger Bennett
My Mother Audrey May Sciascia (Bennett) Born 20th July 1921 Koputaroa NZ – Died 12th November 1986 Palmerston North NZ. The First Daughter of John de Tomba Sciascia and Alice May Sciascia, of Koputaroa her older brother John Leslie Sciascia was also killed in Action in El Alamein Egypt in 1942. This tribute was made for my Uncle by my cousin, David Sciascia. https://vimeo.com/41694693 My mother served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force as it was known or the Waff’s as it was called.
She was also often referred to as Dito-repeat-oh as her WAAF number was 1717, her name was Sciascia, and she lived at Tiro Tiro Road in Levin.
This wartime propaganda film from the NFU celebrates the role of women in the Air Force. Established in 1941 to free up men for other duties, more than 4,700 women served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during WWII. The film is also a recruitment vehicle. It shows WAAF members in traditional (for the time) roles such as sewing and typing. But more male-dominated jobs are being taken on as women are trained as metal workers, mechanics and drivers. And when they’re not working, the women relax by “knitting, drinking a cup of tea and talking.”
From my Dad’s Eulogy
Bruce Frederick Bennett, the youngest son of Fred and Maud Bennett. Born on the 30th November 1920 in Bramley, Surrey, England. – Died 19th July 2009 Tauranga NZ
His older sister, Muriel Martina (Lettis) and brother Percy Seymour Bennett, known as Ben and his brother-in-law James Lettis and sister-in-law Georgie, have all passed on so all that remains of the family in England is Christopher his nephew. “My only cousin on my dad’s side.”
Our dear loving Dad has had a very long and interesting 88 years of life. He started his working life as an apprenticed compositor in the printing trade.
With the outbreak of World War 2, he signed up with the RAF and was an armourer in the 488 Fighter Squadron.
They were sent to Burma and as Dad never really spoke of this, from what we can gather it must have been a horrific time for him. With the fall of Singapore, what remained of the squadron was evacuated and ended up in Adelaide in Australia before eventually coming to New Zealand.
From The book “The Last Stand in Singapore” by Graham Clayton
“Last Stand in Singapore: The Story of 488 Squadron RNZAF” is the story of the squadron’s efforts to defend one of the bastions of the British Empire, Malaya and latterly Singapore. 488 Squadron was New Zealand’s first fighter squadron formed in New Zealand; although, under the control of the RAF, it was staffed nearly entirely with New Zealanders. Shipping out from Wellington, the squadron arrived in Singapore in October 1941, to strengthen the air defences in the area. In six months, the squadron would return to New Zealand, depleted and demoralised.
The story of the 488 squadrons is told chronologically, beginning with the shipping of the squadron and its personnel to Singapore, onto aircrew training (with the usual mishaps) and then into battle when the Japanese invade Malaya in December. Initially equipped with the Brewster Buffalo, the pilots of the squadron struggled to make much impact on the battle for Malaya due to the superiority of the Japanese aircraft. There is a telling account of one pilot’s attempt to intercept a Japanese bomber; despite many efforts both in pilot skill and ground crew attempts to lighten the aircraft, the pilot was still unable to match the altitude of the bomber by several thousand feet. One example of the difficulties faced in trying to hold back the Japanese.
It was no easy fare for the ground crew either; one appreciates the difficulties that they faced in trying to service and maintain aircraft under constant bombing raids (and laterally artillery once the Japanese guns came into range). It was clear that there was great respect for the ground crew and their scrounging abilities, which ensure that many aircraft remain in operation. There were also run-ins with many of the Englishmen the squadron encountered, some of the “pukka sahibs” displaying the best (worst) of their superior attitudes to colonials – leading many of the New Zealanders to wonder why they were fighting for Britain.
As the situation deteriorates, the squadron moves from its airfield in Malaya back to Singapore Island. By now partially equipped with Hurricanes, the pilots, despite their best efforts, cannot restore the situation. Eventually, the squadron has to evacuate Singapore, arriving in Sumatra on the “Empire Star”, and from there the squadron continues to operate a brave and futile rearguard defence. Some members of the squadron remain behind on secondment to an RAF squadron (sadly to become POWs – there is a chapter on their story) while the remainder of the squadron retire to Australia and then onto New Zealand. Battered and bruised, sadly the remnants of the squadron’s personnel were reallocated to other squadrons.
“Last Stand” is told largely from personal accounts; the author’s father was one of the squadron’s ground crew, and through his father, the author was able to gain access to other individuals. The diary extracts of one of the flight commanders were also a key source for the author. This personal touch makes a change from the more formal history of Singapore’s downfall. One of the highlights of “Last Stand” is the photographs which are throughout the book. Most have been sourced through the author’s father. As such, these haven’t been widely published (if at all) before. A minor quibble is that some photographs are clearly out of focus, and to my mind don’t add much to the narrative given this. Nonetheless, these photographs reveal aspects of life on the squadron’s airfield, and there are some taken at the docks of Singapore (and shortly after). This, together with the narrative, makes for an insightful read into the difficulties experienced by some of the defenders of Singapore.