Harry Cammish is now able to realise a dream of being honoured for war services in his home country, Britain.
The 89-year-old Orewa resident is among five Royal Air Force war veterans living in New Zealand who will be properly recognised. They were excluded from an official New Zealand veterans' memorial trip to London for a new $12 million Bomber Command memorial unveiling in June and July.
"I think it's fantastic," Mr Cammish says of the opportunity to now go.
He was a flight engineer whose Lancaster was shot down in World War II. He baled out of the stricken aircraft and was found by the French resistance who helped him escaped over the Pyrenees mountains into Spain. Mr Cammish was not accommodated under the RNZAF visit just over a month ago because he had flown with the British RAF, in 50 Squadron. The British government did not offer to help any Bomber Command veterans in New Zealand wanting to attend the unveiling.
But with the generosity of Auckland entrepreneur and philanthropist Ian Kuperus it is now possible for the five to go. The others are Des Hall of Howick, Doug Williamson of Grey Lynn, Eddie Leaf of Hamilton and Wally Halliwell of Mairangi Bay.
Mr Kuperus was struck by the dedication of the British Bomber Command crews and their heroic actions and decided to fund a special trip for the men. They will have a support crew of partners, assistants and medical staff. Mr Kuperus says the tour is being sponsored by his firm Tax Management New Zealand for a significant amount but that giving the men the opportunity is invaluable.
Mr Cammish is taking daughter Linda Wright from Ahuroa as his wife Betty died about 12 years ago.
A farewell dinner and address for the veterans will be held at Auckland's Novotel Airport Hotel on September 19.
Cammish Lane in Orewa is named after the couple in recognition of their community contribution. Mr Cammish is an Orewa Lions Club life member while wife Betty was an initiator of Meals on Wheels in the Hibiscus Coast.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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