Wairarapa News : February 6th 2013
23 WAIRARAPA NEWS, FEBRUARY 6, 2013 IN FOCUS Motorcyclists Skills Day Texas Street (off The Square) Martinborough Sunday 10th February 2013 9.00am -- 1.30pm Professional Motorcycle Trainers take you through a set of challenging exercises and answer any riding questions you may have. Enquiries contact: Dave or Kerry Wairarapa Road Safety Council (06)3771379 firstname.lastname@example.org (in the case of bad weather this event will be cancelled) Stay Upright and Survive FREE SPOT PRIZES 5142100AA 5160192AA 8 Lincoln Road, Masterton P: 06 377 0139 F: 06 378 2470 A/H: 027 419 0676 E: email@example.com WWW.WORLDTRAVELLERS.CO.NZ Introducing our new Travel Consultant Going further, staying in touch Genevieve Morris Genevieve joins our team with a wealth of knowledge of the travel industry Genevieve comes to us with 5 years experience in the travel industry, having worked as both an International Flight Attendant for Air New Zealand and locally as a Senior Travel consultant. Her wealth of travel experience includes having lived in Switzerland and Hong Kong and having travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Pop in and plan the trip of a lifetime with her today. WOW airshow revives memories Memories: From left, WOW director Tom Williams and Bob Glading with the Masterton- based Corsair. ''I reckon I could still get it up and down again, but it would be too dangerous,'' said Bob. Afloat: HMS Formidable, from which Bob flew. The Tirpitz at anchor: This photo was taken by a reconnaissance Mosquito, and Bob was delighted to see one of these aircraft at Wings Over Wairarapa. By KEVIN BALL Bob Glading as a young Fleet Air Arm pilot. Pilot, 93, still going strong ' Fighters were to cover the torpedo and bomber aircraft...andmany good lives were lost in operations which should never have taken place. ' Bob Glading Bob Glading drove from Auck- land's North Shore to Masterton for the Wings over Wairarapa air show, played a couple of rounds of golf and then drove back home again. Nothing special about that, you might think. But Bob Glading, Fleet Air Arm Corsair pilot, sur- vivor of what was virtually a suicide mission against the legendary German battleship Tirpitz and two-time New Zealand Open golf champion, is far from an ordinary bloke. Bob, who left school at 13 in the depths of the Depression, turns 93 in March. He's alert and lively, an entertaining speaker and still plays a mean round of golf on a handicap equivalent of 14. He'll run rings around me on the golf course,'' said his Master- ton host and old friend, Merv Brown. It was his love of golf that steered Bob in his early years. After leaving school he got a job with a golf pro, and at 17 won his first New Zealand championship. When the war loomed he applied to join the air force, and was wait- ing to hear back when a friend told him that if he joined the navy (Fleet Air Arm) he'd get in quicker and would train in the United States. That appealed, as he hoped to earn a place on the US golf tour. He did eventually arrive in the United States, via New Zealand and England (checking out the legendary St Andrew's golf course), where he did his basic training in a Boeing Stearman bi- plane. Then it was on to Pensacola and getting his wings in Harvards, and Miami where he flew the Brewster Buffalo ( a funny little fighter which was so short it was prone to crab around almost sideways, being blown almost out of the cockpit.'') In Lewiston, Maine, the survivors of the training formed a squadron and began flying Martlets ( devils on the ground with narrow undercarriages . . . I put one on its back, fortunately with only minor damage to the pilot'') and then the F4U Corsair, discarded by the Americans because they crashed so many try- ing to land them on flight decks. After becoming competent on the Corsairs they flew to Norfolk Naval Air Station to qualify for deck landings on a small Escort carrier-sized strip. Bob was one of the few to successfully complete this task before the weather and a series of accidents halted proceed- ings. The squadron, 1841, trans- ferred to England on an escort carrier and were assigned to the 26,000-ton HMS Formidable, for operations in Norway. Watching the Corsair perform at Wings over Wairarapa must have brought back memories for Bob of the suicide'' mission against the Tirpitz, at anchor in a fjord surrounded by heavy anti- aircraft armour. Fighters were to cover the tor- pedo and bomber aircraft which were armed with nothing suf- ficiently large to do real damage to Tirpitz, and many good lives were lost in operations which should never have taken place,'' Bob wrote later. I suspect it was planned by some retired Admiral at Admiralty to provide some pub- licity for the Fleet Air Arm, which had not made headlines for a long time. In my first flight they had fil- led the fjords with smoke so the Tirpitz was obscured. My wing man and I headed towards where we saw much flak emerging, and upon diving through the smoke towards the flak I discovered to my horror that I was strafing the battleship, which was throwing everything at us and we beat a hasty retreat. Strafing a battle- ship was a sure and quick way to die, I thought, and quite useless. It was soon obvious that the whole operation was plain bloody ridiculous and in effect, a waste of good young lives, dreamed up by idiots,'' he wrote. Formidable made her way to Australia and then headed back into the Pacific and the war against Japan, working her way through the islands to Japan, on the way coming under attack from kamikaze suicide pilots. The Brit- ish ships had steel decks, instead of the American wooden ones, so on the two occasions kamikazes struck they just left dents, which were quickly filled with concrete. Strafing and cover for bombers, plus strafing barges, kept us busy and we were losing a pilot almost every day,'' said Bob. At war's end, the squadron had lost half its original members. Formidable led the fleet into Sydney Harbour, to a huge wel- come, and a month later Bob returned to New Zealand and his fiance, Margaret. They were married for 63 years and raised a family of three chil- dren. Margaret died in 2009, aged 87. The couple had known each other for 72 years. Bob was mentioned in despatches for his efforts and was shocked to receive a Distinguished Service Cross for his wartime role, not because of any particular heroics, but I suppose because I seemed to carry out my job reasonably well and had the good fortune to survive''. Post-war, Bob returned to his first love, golf. He was New Zea- land Open winner twice, NZPGA champion, won the New Zealand Foursomes title three times, rep- resented New Zealand in 1946, 1947 and 1959 and was an New Zealand professional representa- tive in 1949. He has led golf tours to the US, playing at Pebble Beach, Augusta and a host of other courses and at 93, he's showing few signs of slow- ing down.
January 30th 2013
February 13th 2013