Something the John Key National government has refused to do; recognise the sacrifice of our servicemen and women in WW2:
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw says he had a special reason to recognise Armistice Day in Britain — his grandfather was a fighter pilot there in World War 2.
McCaw paused at 11am (UK time) to reflect on his grandfather, J H “Jim” McCaw, who flew from Royal Air Force bases in Britain with 486 (NZ) Squadron, made up mostly of New Zealand pilots.
The Daily Telegraph reported McCaw stopped at training to remember his grandfather, who at the same age had just returned to New Zealand after flying over 300 operational sorties.
In the summer of 1944 he was doing little but shooting down German V1 and V2 rockets launched at London, and when the cannon on his Hawker Tempest MK5 fighter ran out of ammunition, the pilot would bump the missiles off-course with his wingtip.
Officially, he was credited with 19-1/2 “kills” but he also managed to shepherd a lot of missiles out to sea.
“Thousands, probably tens of thousands, of Londoners owe him their lives to Richie McCaw’s grandfather and his colleagues,” the newspaper said.
“On one evening alone in July 1944 he destroyed four V2s heading towards the suburbs, finishing his patrol by scraping into Biggin Hill well past midnight with his fuel tanks showing empty.”
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his attacks on German-controlled railways and other ground targets, and attacks at sea in which 73 ships were destroyed.
“The `old fella’ was a great man and we were very close before he died in 1996,” McCaw said.
“I stayed up at the family farm in Kurow regularly in the holidays — he used to run a gliding school there as well — and sometimes … he would tell me all the old war stories.
“But the really scary ones he made light of or just didn’t mention at all. You had to talk to his mates in the bar to find out the truth about those.”
McCaw said a famous piece of film used in documentaries was taken from the gun turret of a Tempest where the pilot fired his cannon so close to the target that he had to fly through the explosion, shrapnel and debris.
“It’s pretty terrifying,” he said. “Carnage. That pilot was the old fella. He came out of the other side.”
But 10 of Flight Lieutenant McCaw’s comrades in 486 Squadron were killed that summer by V2 explosions as they attacked the bombs, destroying 223 of them.
McCaw said his grandfather had passed on his love of flying: “My dad and uncles all fly, and me as well. I learnt to fly exactly where the old fella learnt.”
Acknowledgements : NZPA