David Palmer describes his five-part series in Aviation News NZ as “the first real account” of 487 (NZ) Squadron. Now there’s a strong possibility the series could morph into something more substantial. Whilst there’s plenty of support for such an idea, he hesitates to state definitely that the result will become a book.
“At least I can compile a history for donation to the Air Force Museum at Wigram, which bemoans the lack of material on 487.” The unit contained many Kiwis with a remarkable history. About half the aircrews and almost all the ground staff were British RAF personnel; the rest were New Zealanders (probably more than 200) and they were instrumental in several famous air raids, most notably the Amiens prison break in 1944. Palmer recalls that his five-part series began with an old pilot..
“Then, being a meticulous sort and any way interested, I looked up 487’s Operatons Record Book at Wigram and discovered a wonderful untapped resource, and was told by staff how neglected the squadron is. Since the articles appeared, a man has got in touch saying his dad was one of the Kiwi pilots on the Amiens prison raid and has sent me a swag of material.
A freelance writer and editor who recently took his wife and son back to his home in Canterbury, Palmer is a technical writer at Tait Electronics. “I’m interested enough in aviation to have a pilot’s licence, and a love of history runs through all I do. I would qualify as an expert on the Battle of Britain because of the original research I did on it, and am pretty knowledgeable about World War 1 and World War 2 aviation generally.
“Three years back I met an old pilot, Guy Robertson, who had a distinguished air-combat career in the Solomons and then began a major aerial topdressing firm in the 1950s. I’ve been interviewing a succession of fine elderly gentlemen who learnt to fly in the ‘40s and then flew top-dressers in the pioneering days. I do feel a measure of social responsibility in recording the memories of these people, some of whom have done extraordinary things.
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