Gerry Newey

Flight Sergeant Gerald (Gerry) Newey, RNZAF, NZ425285, Wireless Operator.

Gerry Newey was born on the 18th September 1921 on a dairy farm at Okaiawa, near Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand, the seventh child of James and Nora Newey. James and Nora had separately emigrated from England, met and married in 1913.

When Gerry’s mother became unwell, the family moved north for the warmer climate, to a dairy farm at Tapuhi in the Bay of Islands. After a few years, they moved down to Auckland where James worked at a sugar refinery. The family moved back up north to Ruapekapeka to have another try at dairy farming but they lost the farm in the Depression, and moved back to Auckland.

Gerry’s mother passed away when he was only 10, and as his father was losing his eyesight due to cataracts, it was a struggle to keep the family together. By now Gerry had 12 siblings, and the older ones were forced to leave school early and find work to supplement the family income. Gerry left school at age 15.

When the war broke out, the family was living on a small piece of land that James had purchased in Greenhithe, on the northern outskirts of Auckland. Gerry had worked as a delivery van driver at Newdick Brothers, a bakery in Grey St, downtown Auckland, as a dairy van driver, worked on his brother’s farm for a year and spent 2 months in the Territorials. At the time he enlisted, he described himself as a labourer, working in a market garden.

He was conscripted into the NZ Army on 23 October 1940 at age 19 years 1 month, and signed up at Silverdale. He was recorded as being of dark complexion, 5 ft 6 ½ ins tall, blue eyes, and black hair.

Gerry in uniform, age 19.
– Gerry Newey collection, thanks to Phil and Bruce Newey.

Gerry served 3 months in the 15th North Auckland Regiment, based first at Whangarei, and then 2 months in the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Regiment, at Paihia.

D Company, 15th North Auckland Regiment, 1940. The photo was taken in segments so Gerry took the opportunity to run around the back and appear in it twice
(standing 2nd from left, and 3rd from right).
– Gerry Newey collection, thanks to Phil and Bruce Newey.
Gerry, left and right versions.
– Gerry Newey collection, thanks to Phil and Bruce Newey.
Gerry on leave with niece Anne, 1940.
– Gerry Newey collection, thanks to Phil and Bruce Newey.
Gerry, kneeling front centre.
– Gerry Newey collection, thanks to Phil and Bruce Newey.

He volunteered for aircrew in the RNZAF in March 1941, and undertook a 21-week correspondence course, studying maths, physics and mechanics for the RNZAF pre-entry exam.

Having passed the exam, he enlisted into the air force at RNZAF Station Waipapakauri (Term of Engagement: “D of W” – Duration of War), on 1 May 1942, and was transferred there on 30th May.

30 May 1942 –  26 November 1942: No. 7 G.R. (General Reconnaisance) Squadron, RNZAF Station Waipapakauri, Waipapakauri, Northland.

Gerry began his air force life with the rank of Aircraftman Second Class (AC2) with No. 7 GR Squadron in the Aerodrome Defence Unit at Waipapakauri, New Zealand’s northern-most military aerodrome, near Kaitaia.

The squadron operated Vickers Vincents, large, obsolete biplane bombers, patrolling the northern coastline and sea approaches to New Zealand.

Aerodrome Defence Units, as well as helping defend the aerodrome against possible attack, provided an organisation in which aircrew could be grouped prior to beginning their training, and in which they received their pre-entry education. The trainees spent about half their time in general service training, which was a prerequisite of their subsequent aircrew training. The other half was spent in educational training to bring them up to the standard necessary for entry into the Initial Training Wing.

Then his aircrew training proper began at the RNZAF’s Initial Training Wing (ITW) in Rotorua.

NEXT: ITW, Rotorua.