Mem­o­ries of a sea­plane’s visit

The Northland Age - - Local News -

The wartime re­al­ity be­hind the mys­te­ri­ous visit of a Martin Mariner sea­plane dur­ing World War II (A cou­ple of mys­ter­ies to clear up, North­land Age, March 28) may have been solved, thanks to the vivid mem­o­ries of a for­mer pupil at Man­gonui School.

Whanga¯rei res­i­dent Rose Pera had no trou­ble rememberin­g the in­ci­dent.

“I re­mem­ber that it was dam­aged and needed re­pairs,” she said.

“It was towed by Bob Marchant to his jetty at But­ler Point, where Bob car­ried out the mi­nor re­pairs that were needed.

“The crew came ashore to the Post Of­fice to re­port on their where­abouts to base us­ing Morse Code, and my older sis­ter, who worked at the Post Of­fice, was in­vited by the Amer­i­can crew to din­ner at the Marchants’ house. Later she was given a tour of the plane, which was a real high­light.”

The ar­rival of the plane and her fam­ily’s prox­im­ity to the Amer­i­cans was the talk of the school for some time, and gave Rose in­stant school yard sta­tus.

Ac­cord­ing to Her­itage New Zealand’s North­land man­ager, Bill Ed­wards, float planes were slow in the air but had very long range, up to 2600 nau­ti­cal miles (4800km), so it was pos­si­ble that this one had flown to Man­gonui from the Pa­cific af­ter suf­fer­ing dam­age in com­bat, or it may sim­ply have needed re­pairs.

“Ei­ther way, Man­gonui would have been a very wel­come haven for the Amer­i­can crew un­til they were able to get un­der way again,” he said.

“The fact that they were able to get word out through the Man­gonui Post Of­fice to com­rades that they were safe would have been an added bonus.”

Mr Ed­wards said en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to share their sto­ries and in­for­ma­tion had been cen­tral to the suc­cess of the North­land World War II Her­itage In­ven­tory project, which was cur­rently be­ing fi­nalised by vol­un­teer re­searchers Jack Kemp and Dr Bill Guthrie.

“It’s tremen­dous that peo­ple like Rose have been able to share their knowl­edge, which in turn has helped build our un­der­stand­ing of what was go­ing on mil­i­tar­ily in North­land dur­ing the Sec­ond World War,” he added.

PIC­TURE / HER­ITAGE NZ

The Martin Mariner at Man­gonui, ap­par­ently in need of re­pairs.

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