Welshman made region his home

Last updated 05:00 31/12/2013

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The Royal Air Force had a couple of reasons not to enlist Greg Bannan when World War II broke out.

Firstly, at the age of 16, he was too young. And secondly, Mr Bannan worked in a Welsh coal mine, a job regarded as an essential service.

Thomas James Gregory Bannan was farewelled by friends and family yesterday. He died in New Plymouth on Boxing Day morning, aged 90.

"He passed away quietly at Telford Rest Home, after a lovely Christmas," his stepson Stuart Girvan said.

Born in Wales, Mr Bannan worked in a coal mine near Pontypridd caring for pit ponies.

The first time he tried to enlist in the RAF he was sent home. But in March 1942 he was called up for active service and became a tailgunner on an Avro Lancaster - a British, four-engined, heavy bomber aircraft.

He reached the rank of flight sergeant.

Mr Bannan emigrated to New Zealand in 1953 with his wife and son.

They first lived in Tauranga, before moving to New Plymouth, which Mr Bannan thought had a climate similar to his native Wales.

In New Plymouth he took up work as a maintenance fitter at a fertiliser plant.

He had two children, two step-children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A service for Mr Bannan was held at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Fitzroy, which he regularly attended.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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