Tuesday, June 5, 2012
We recently received a wonderful donation from Mr Geoff Proctor of Nelson, New Zealand. Geoff’s father Donald served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and was stationed on Norfolk for a year from June 1943.
Donald took home with him a copy of one of the original roneoed copies of “The Bounty and After” by A.S. Gazzard which Geoff has now so kindly donated and sent back to the Island. The copy is special as the inside cover contains the signatures of around 50 New Zealand servicemen and also several locals including Bessie Gondon, Louis Gondon (Toothy), Beverly Downes (Simpson) and Lucie Downes.
This 1943 publication was printed and published by the Norfolk Island Weekly which Albert published between approximately 1937 and 1943. In 1983 his daughter Mrs Dorothy Mitchell, published 500 copies in a soft cover book. She notes in the front cover that “The text of this book is as it was originally written by my father during the period 1930 to 1943. The words and phrases used are in keeping with this historical period”. The book is described as a short history of the descendants of the mutineers of the Bounty and opens with “The fortunes of Norfolk Island have been strangely interwoven with those of New South Wales. Few places in the modern world have had a history so strange, so various, so horrible and romantic, and in latter years such a peaceful, and happy one”.
Geoff has told us that his father always hoped to return to Norfolk Island but was sadly killed in an accident at a young age. He did however talk with his family about his time on the island and spoke highly of one of the families he had spent time with. When Geoff brought his mother to Norfolk some years ago they met with locals at the RSL who remembered Donald.
The RNZAF played an important role here during WWII. The first ‘unofficial’ landings on the newly completed Norfolk Island airstrip were RNZAF planes on Christmas Day 1942. A New Zealand company, the 36th Battalion designated as ‘N Force’, made up of 1,488 personnel was dispatched to protect the airfield. They were stationed here between 1942 and 1944 and as a result, Norfolk’s war history is more closely tied to New Zealand than Australia. Throughout the duration of the war, an average of 150 planes a month staged through Norfolk, bringing sixteen different types of aircraft.