Travel

Dear Peg and Family,
Before World War. II, we as a Nation never travelled very far. Sure many commuted by rail to a nearby Schools, or worked close in cities. But for most, that would be the extent of our wanderings. For those of us, who didn’t get to enjoy these odd excursions, there was always the occasional picnic train.
‘Picnics’, were a popular form of an outing which was sponsored by the Friendly Societies, or other local institutions, such as Churches. In other words, no one from that era travelled very far. If we did, where were you going to stay? On arrival at an destination. Often we did have a loose referral system, if you had a relation, or the friend of a friend, who could put you up for a night or two, then you took advantage of what was on offer. As far as Motels went, as yet they didn’t exist. They were tied to the fact that you required a motor vehicle in every home to make them function.
Change with a vengeance arrived with the outbreak of what is now called ‘Hostilities’. If and when you were, ‘called up’ to Serve your Country. You would find that you were being posted to various camps through out the length and breadth of New Zealand. Travel was now a necessity, should you wish to return home.
Given a leave pass, it was always a struggle, even with it to return home. All travel was now on severely overloaded systems. Air traffic was still in it’s infancy. The Air Force itself was only being cobbled together. Most of the planes that we being trained on at the time, were of the open cockpit type not what the ordinary commuter would look at. Actually not an improvement on what had been around during the previous War. However it must be said, that if you could fly one of theses early trainers well, you could fly anything.
My travel experiences came about quicker than expected. I was inducted into the Army at the tender age of 18 years of age. Switched across into the Air Force, immediately commenced their required study. You also needed to be a volunteer and  have required educational levels to do this. Passed their exams and then completed a primary trainer flying course at Taieri Aerodrome. Three days later, I was holding onto a ships hand rail, part of the grey Ghost, a huge converted liner, watching Wellington disappear into the gloom. I had even shaken hands with the Prime Minister who had come down to the wharfs to farewell us. We were now headed for America with 30,000 other first time travellers. We were unescorted, relying on the speed of our vessel to keep us safe.
There was always a wind across the deck of about 30pmh, so special arrangements were made for the toilets. No peeing into the wind as they used to do in the days of yore. Someone is bound to get it wrong, we only had about a metre of space each to sit on. A pipe about a metre in diameter was laid across three sides of the deck in the open, with a hundred holes a metre or so apart and filled with running water this took care of the toilet problem. There were salt water showers under which soap didn’t lather, when cold it left a sticky rubbery feel residue on the skin. There were fresh water taps, but they were all under armed guard. You were only allowed what you could drink on the spot. I must report too on the new food we were being given. It all seemed to be sloppy, served by bored handlers who couldn’t give a toss of how they dispensed it. It seemed that thy didn’t care if they landed it on the stainless pressed plate we were given, or onto our uniforms. As we had no way of washing our gear. It had to happen, and one of our lot ‘king hit’ a food handler. Sending him and our dinner serving pails into a tangled heap. This started a riot, with everyone joining in. However it did fix the problem. From then on you could hear some say, ‘Look out, it’s the New Zealanders again.’
Of course scuttle butt knew exactly where we were headed, and when we were about to land. However it came to pass all too quick. We ran down the West Coast of USA because of a storm, and on arrival at San Diego, disembarked and we were bundled on board a train for another equally long journey. This time through the ‘Rockies’ to where were now headed. The Flat interior of Canada.
Initially our course had been split into two halves. The half that remained in New Zealand immediately commenced Service flying, formed into squadrons and did a couple tours in the Pacific while we waited in Canada for something to happen to us. Where we were at least no one was shooting at us.
After I gained my wings, I still had a  lot of travelling to do. Sometimes  we travelled first Class, and sometimes we travelled in the hold of a ship which certainly was not first class. I promised myself that one day I would return on a proper cruise and would accept all the pampering these events normally have,
Love to all from Christchurch,
Wally
Before World War. II, we as a Nation never travelled very far. Sure many commuted by rail to a nearby Schools, or worked close in cities. But for most, that would be the extent of our wanderings. For those of us, who didn’t get to enjoy these odd excursions, there was always the occasional picnic train.
‘Picnics’, were a popular form of an outing which was sponsored by the Friendly Societies, or other local institutions, such as Churches. In other words, no one from that era travelled very far. If we did, where were you going to stay? On arrival at an destination. Often we did have a loose referral system, if you had a relation, or the friend of a friend, who could put you up for a night or two, then you took advantage of what was on offer. As far as Motels went, as yet they didn’t exist. They were tied to the fact that you required a motor vehicle in every home to make them function.
Change with a vengeance arrived with the outbreak of what is now called ‘Hostilities’. If and when you were, ‘called up’ to Serve your Country. You would find that you were being posted to various camps through out the length and breadth of New Zealand. Travel was now a necessity, should you wish to return home.
Given a leave pass, it was always a struggle, even with it to return home. All travel was now on severely overloaded systems. Air traffic was still in it’s infancy. The Air Force itself was only being cobbled together. Most of the planes that we being trained on at the time, were of the open cockpit type not what the ordinary commuter would look at. Actually not an improvement on what had been around during the previous War. However it must be said, that if you could fly one of theses early trainers well, you could fly anything.
My travel experiences came about quicker than expected. I was inducted into the Army at the tender age of 18 years of age. Switched across into the Air Force, immediately commenced their required study. You also needed to be a volunteer and  have required educational levels to do this. Passed their exams and then completed a primary trainer flying course at Taieri Aerodrome. Three days later, I was holding onto a ships hand rail, part of the grey Ghost, a huge converted liner, watching Wellington disappear into the gloom. I had even shaken hands with the Prime Minister who had come down to the wharfs to farewell us. We were now headed for America with 30,000 other first time travellers. We were unescorted, relying on the speed of our vessel to keep us safe.
There was always a wind across the deck of about 30pmh, so special arrangements were made for the toilets. No peeing into the wind as they used to do in the days of yore. Someone is bound to get it wrong, we only had about a metre of space each to sit on. A pipe about a metre in diameter was laid across three sides of the deck in the open, with a hundred holes a metre or so apart and filled with running water this took care of the toilet problem. There were salt water showers under which soap didn’t lather, when cold it left a sticky rubbery feel residue on the skin. There were fresh water taps, but they were all under armed guard. You were only allowed what you could drink on the spot. I must report too on the new food we were being given. It all seemed to be sloppy, served by bored handlers who couldn’t give a toss of how they dispensed it. It seemed that thy didn’t care if they landed it on the stainless pressed plate we were given, or onto our uniforms. As we had no way of washing our gear. It had to happen, and one of our lot ‘king hit’ a food handler. Sending him and our dinner serving pails into a tangled heap. This started a riot, with everyone joining in. However it did fix the problem. From then on you could hear some say, ‘Look out, it’s the New Zealanders again.’
Of course scuttle butt knew exactly where we were headed, and when we were about to land. However it came to pass all too quick. We ran down the West Coast of USA because of a storm, and on arrival at San Diego, disembarked and we were bundled on board a train for another equally long journey. This time through the ‘Rockies’ to where were now headed. The Flat interior of Canada.
Initially our course had been split into two halves. The half that remained in New Zealand immediately commenced Service flying, formed into squadrons and did a couple tours in the Pacific while we waited in Canada for something to happen to us. Where we were at least no one was shooting at us.
After I gained my wings, I still had a  lot of travelling to do. Sometimes  we travelled first Class, and sometimes we travelled in the hold of a ship which certainly was not first class. I promised myself that one day I would return on a proper cruise and would accept all the pampering these events normally have,
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