My Dad was too young to serve in the war (he was 16 when it ended), but talked a lot about his wartime experiences living in Greenhithe, just across the harbour from the twin RNZAF bases at Whenuapai and Hobsonville. His interest in ‘planes probably came from even earlier influences, such as the books he was given as a boy, including “Thrilling Flights” by Capt. W.E. Johns, which I also enjoyed reading many years later.
His older brother Gerry served as a Wireless Operator on Lancasters, but didn’t talk much about his experiences, at least that I remember. He was a very nice guy, and Dad was quite close to him, standing as Best Man at his wedding. Sadly Gerry passed away in 1977, only 56 years old.
Since I was a kid I had memories of a particular photo that hung on the wall in Uncle Gerry and Aunty Marion’s downstairs hallway – a panoramic, full 75 (NZ) Squadron photo taken in front of (and on top of) a Lancaster bomber. That photo had always fascinated me.
Photo above: Uncle Gerry’s picture – 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, March 1945. Gerry and crewmates directly under the nose of the Lancaster.
– Phil & Bruce Newey.
My interest in warbirds and aviation history grew over the years, something I was able to share with Dad before he passed away in 2006.
The need to discover Gerry’s ‘story’ grew even stronger after reading Max Lambert’s relentless account of New Zealanders in Bomber Command “Night After Night” and watching Steve Hatton’s excellent film, “Into The Wind“.
Gerry’s two sons, Phil and Bruce, now both living in the U.S., were also keen to find out more. Like me, they wished they had asked their Dad more questions when he was around …
Bruce had already started to make inquiries.
Phil offered to dig out and copy his Dad’s logbook and some of the photos that Gerry had kept, stored away in an old suitcase.
Then in April 2012, following up a contact by Bruce a few years earlier, came the email with details of Gerry’s final operation, details of two crewmates who were decorated as a result of the dramatic incident, and the email address of a surviving crew member!
Six and a half years later, thanks to the wonders of the internet, the generosity of the families of the crewmates and the dedication of a small group of 75(NZ) Sqdn enthusiasts, we have assembled an amazingly detailed account of the JN-Dog boys’ story. There has been a lot of pride and satisfaction in re-discovering their accomplishments and, incredibly, we are still discovering new information to add to the story.
They were from a unique generation, and we can only imagine what they went through. This is for them, and for their families, so that we will remember them.
Chris Newey and Phil & Bruce Newey
Nephew and sons of Flight Sergeant Gerry Newey, RNZAF, NZ425285, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, HK601 JN-D, C Flight, 75(NZ) Squadron RAF
You can pick up the main story from when the boys first came together at No.12 Operational Training Unit, Chipping Warden.
More about how the story came together here.
Contacts & updates
If you would like to get in touch with someone in the JN-Dog ‘family’ or if you have a contribution to add to the story, you can contact us here.
You can also sign up to receive an email notification any time a new post is added to this website.
Special thanks to the families of the JN-Dog crew for sharing their photos, information and memories, and for giving permission to reproduce them here.
Debbie, Sue, Audrey, Emily, Glynis, Doug and David – you have all been generous, helpful and encouraging.
Cousins Phil and Bruce (Gerry’s sons) got the research underway, and Phil has done a magnificent job of hunting through that Pandora’s box of a suitcase, scanning and loaning Gerry’s logbook, diary, documents, memorabilia and seemingly endless photos. Thanks for entrusting me with some of these priceless items, and with your Dad’s story. I am still traumatised by that time you guys tied me to a tree at Matangi when I was 8 years old, but I think I can finally forgive you …
And thank you Doug, not just for writing down your own story, but for letting me get to know you and generously answering the many, many questions that have come up. Your friendship (and Janet’s) has been a completely unexpected bonus!
I would also like to thank the many people in the 75(NZ) Squadron ‘family’ who generously help each other to add to our collective understanding of what our fathers, uncles and grandfathers went through. In particular, Peter Wheeler, who has single-handedly rescued and preserved a huge amount of the history of New Zealanders in Bomber Command.
It is frustrating that a few prefer to keep information to themselves, whether it be for their own special projects, or through some misguided sense of ownership, an approach that has in fact led to the loss of valuable material over the years. It’s only through sharing that our knowledge will grow.
Simon Sommerville epitomises this philosophy with his brilliant website and database, a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to research a relative. His attitude is that no-one “owns” this information, and that wherever it’s available, the true and accurate history should be made available to anyone who is interested. As a result, people have wanted to contribute, and his site has grown spectacularly. Thanks Simon!
After all, the best way we can thank the boys who went through so much for us, is to make sure that their stories are out there and not forgotten.