New Zealand Bomber Command Association



15.8.22 – 4.6.24

Flight Sergeant George Richard Davis
RNZAF, NZ436786

George Davis
(Credit: Online Cenotaph / © NZIPP Photograph by Chris Parker)

From Auckland, George Davis completed a degree in accounting before the war and was working for Mayburn & Porter, doing the books for the Auckland Softball and Wrestling Associations. At age 19 he enlisted in the Army and served in the Army Signals Corp as a motorbike despatch rider, based at Kaikohe.

In search of more excitement, in early 1943 he applied to join the RNZAF. He and a mate, both university-qualified, managed to short-cut the usual initial training process, and soon found themselves in Canada. He trained at No. 8 Bombing & Gunnery School in Lethbridge and then at No. 2 Air Observer School in Edmonton, graduating in June 1944 as a Navigator.

By the time he reached England in late 1944, heavy bomber aircrew requirements were changing, and his advanced training was in the new role of Second Navigator (Nav 2), responsible for radar and electronics, as well as bomb aiming. He joined a mostly Kiwi crew and they trained on Lancasters, ready to “do their bit.”

Finally, the crew received their posting to an operational bomber squadron, 75 (NZ) Sq. RAF based at Mepal, but as fate would have it, the posting arrived on 8 May 1945, V.E. Day! The posting was immediately cancelled, and George never made it to the Squadron.

He was disappointed, but fortunately did not have to wait around in England for too long and was shipped back home on the brand-new liner, the Andes, embarking on the 23rd of September. As the ship left the dock at Southampton, the 1480 RNZAF airmen on board were farewelled with a fly-past by two new 75 (NZ) Sq. Lincolns.

After breaking the record for the passage to Melbourne, the Andes sailed for Lyttleton on the 18th of October. According to George, during the crossing, the troops awoke to see flying fish overtaking the ship.

Later the Captain received word that the Lyttleton watersiders were arguing conditions for unloading her on the Sunday, and the Monday was not suitable either as it was Labour Day, a public holiday!! The Andes had to slow right down and wait until the 23rd to dock, spending an extra two days sitting out in the Tasman Sea. The ship, packed full of men desperate to see home and their families, finally docked at 7.30 on the Tuesday morning.

Infuriated by the delay, the boys hung out a large sign (weighted down with beer bottles) – “Welcome Home, except on Labour Weekend as we are going to the Races” and pelted the official welcoming party on the wharf. According to another airman on board, “the shower of coins and tomatoes/eggs was enough for the band to seek shelter, while the wharfies took off as the airmen disembarked – we hunted them like vermin, anybody who was caught had a quick swim.”

After the war, George returned to his profession and worked in the dairy industry, serving as Company Secretary for the Piriaka, Kaipara and Rangitaiki Plains dairy companies, the latter for twenty-five years. Heavily involved in the local Edgecumbe community and local service clubs, he and his wife Rona created magic on the dance floor and taught ballroom dancing to hundreds of local high school students. They also loved tramping, walking and water-skiing. Sadly, Rona passed away in 2009. They had been married for over 60 years. George retired at age 75 and even as a centenarian possessed a sharp mind and formidable memory.

It was a shame that, although active in the RSA, George did not feel he qualified to join the NZBCA or his squadron association. And yet he had spent more than three years serving his country and more than two years training for an operational role in Bomber Command.

June 1944: Class Graduation, No 2 Air Observers’ School (2AOS), Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. George is second from the left in the second row.
(Credit: Davis family)

Crew in training, England 1945. George front right with, from rear: Jim Henderson, George Oughton, Rear Gunner Tom, (front) Ian Catterall.
(Credit: Davis family)

June 22, 2024

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