Ōhaupo-based David Head is searching for a man he met in Rotorua last year, someone who shared his father’s war-time experiences involving Lancaster aircraft, and may still be holding precious copies of his father’s stories.
In the months before last year’s nationwide lockdown, David was living in his bus – a Mitsubishi Fuso Rosa – when he overnighted at Rotorua’s Sulphur Point and met the man whose name he cannot remember. In talking, they discovered they had a fair bit in common around their dads.
“He owned a campervan and was there with his wife. We discovered we were both 70, and both our fathers had served in the RAF, mine as a pilot of a Lancaster bomber, and his as a navigator,” David said. “My father served in 286 Squadron and was in 7th Squadron, the Pathfinders, when he was finally demobbed in 1947.”
The man spoke about wanting to do work on his campervan during the winter and suggested to David that he come and stay so they could help do work on one another’s vehicles. Before they parted, they exchanged contact details and David gave him photocopies of articles and information he had about his father’s service.
“Then the lockdown happened, and my bus was stolen. Sadly, my ‘black book’ with all my contacts in it was in the bus, and I was only able to recover some of my belongings that were thrown out of the vehicle.”
David remembers the man as being tall, bald and owning an engineering business. He thinks he lived in Cambridge.
Now, with there still being no sign of his stolen bus, David wants to make contact with the man he met in Rotorua, and if nothing else, recover the precious photocopies he gave him relating to his father’s life.
His dad, Geoffrey Head, had penned many of his wartime stories. About six to eight of them had been published in Havelock North under the title ‘A Postcard From the War, by Biggles’.
“One related to my dad and his crew finding a missing sky train DC3 over the Alps in 1946 – they were the first people to spot it. That was a good story,” said David.
London-born Geoffrey was flying Lancasters by the time he was 20. He later married David’s mother and the family relocated to Australia before coming to New Zealand to settle. Geoffrey worked as a rep for Mobil Oil in the Wellington region, was active in Rotary and later went into the wine industry.
David is now eager to locate the man he met in Rotorua, and recover the photocopied documents relating to Geoffrey’s life.
Anyone who remembers meeting David in Rotorua, just before last year’s lockdown, can contact him via the Cambridge News. Email Viv Posselt at firstname.lastname@example.org.