Skipper Johnny Wood’s daughter Debbie has just sent through a beautiful photo of her parents’ wedding.
Plans for the wedding were already under way on the 10th of January 1945 when Johnny asked Gerry to be his Best Man, as mentioned in Gerry’s diary:
“Skip asked me to be best man at his wedding to Betty which is due to come off after our tour.”
Gerry was obviously very honoured as ten days later he wrote to Betty to thank her as well.
Unfortunately the end of their tour more or less coincided with the end of the war in Europe. The crew was split up.
Gerry was posted off the squadron on VE Day, to get ready for repatriation back to New Zealand, as was Jack Pauling.
Gerry embarked at Liverpool docks on the 3rd of July and sailed home on the “Mauritania II”. He was back living with his Dad in Greenhithe near Auckland by the time Johnny and Betty were married.
After Johnny left 75(NZ) Squadron on 17 July, he was posted to 105 Operational Training Unit at Bramcote as an instructor. 105 OTU trained pilots and crews for Transport Command and flew Douglas Dakotas.
The wedding took place at Kidderminster, England, on the 26th of September 1945.
Jim Hooper (or “Hoop” as Johnny called him) had stepped in as Johnny’s Best Man.
Debbie has kindly given permission to share the photo of her parents’ wedding – standing at left is Flying Officer Jim Hooper, next to the groom Pilot Officer John Wood DFC, who together with his bride Betty, made a very handsome couple.
Debbie also found another copy of the only crew photo that we have, the same one that was in Gerry’s collection. It was taken during Heavy Conversion training on Stirlings at Stradishall in September or October 1944, just before Flight Engineer Doug Williamson joined the crew.
Even though it is a very small print, it has scanned well and it is quite a bit sharper than Gerry’s copy. You can even read the sign above the doorway, “3 BARRACK BLOCK”. And as a bonus we have Johnny’s hand-written caption on the back.
– Thanks to Debbie for permission to reproduce these two wonderful photos from her father’s collection.