Tag Archives: Gerry Newey

More information on ‘Tap’ Heperi

Photo: Next Graduating Squadron, No. 3 Wireless School, Squadron 65,  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, September 1943. From WAGMag, September 43 issue, Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.

Photo: Next Graduating Squadron, No. 3 Wireless School, Squadron 65, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, September 1943.
From WAGMag, September 43 issue, Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.

Many thanks as always to Chris, for sending me the following information on Tapua Heperi that he initially came across whilst researching his uncle, Gerry:

Early in my research into my uncle’s service and Wireless Operator training in Canada, I came across a copy of the September 1943 issue of “WAGMag”, the monthly magazine of No 3 Wireless School in Winnipeg, and was excited to see a graduating class photo of 65 Squadron, with Gerry sitting front and centre!

Notable amongst the names listed below the photo was a “T. Heperi” – I hadn’t been expecting to see a Maori surname – and its owner “Tap Heperi” features prominently elsewhere in both this and the June and July issues of WAGMag, in 65 Squadron (class) news and various station sports results. Obviously respected by his peers, (and promoted to the rank of Corporal by the time he graduated) he is mentioned as a Squadron “senior”:

Class seniors, Tap Heperi, Errol Oakley and Jim Sutherland, are due a lot of credit for untiring representation throughout the entire course. From the boys, “thanks a lot”.”

He is mentioned as a member of the Squadron boxing team, and in a report of an away boxing match on June 30th 1943, against No.33 SFTS Carberry:

“Tapuli (sic) Hepiri took the only other decision for No. 3, when he outfought, outboxed and outgrimaced the heavy LAC Ayres from Carberry. Both boxers went at it hammer and tongs for three rounds, but Hepiri was slightly faster and used his left and his deceptive hip movement to advantage.”

– and again in games of “rugger” against Carberry on July 16th, and against No.5 AOS on 21 August 1943, where he helped “provide the power” in the forwards:

Outstanding of these is LAC Heperi, class senior for “A” flight. Tall and well built, this Maori lad likes plenty of fast action, having recently transferred his attention from punching opponents to kicking their shins. With LAC Hicks, another Newzie, he represented the squadron in rugger against Carberry some little time ago.

He must have been quite a sportsman!

Later, when I started to work my way through the the Wood crew’s op’s in the 75 ORBs, Dec 44 – April 45, it was another surprise to see the name of T. Heperi pop up as W/Op in the Clements crew! So I guess that Gerry would have known him well.

After the War, Tapua Peter Heperi apparently owned a dairy farm in in the Okaihau Valley, Northland, and archival National Film Unit footage exists of he and his family on the farm in the ’60’s. Although no longer with us, Google turns up another Tap Heperi, a singer of some note, who was born 8 October 1943 in Rawene, Northland, NZ, quite possibly conceived on final leave before his Dad shipped off to Canada!


Glad to be of assistance……

I got a great email from Chris Newey this morning regarding me seemingly inadvertently assisting with a research problem he’d been grappling with for a few weeks. Chris had been trying to understand a number of references to Lancastes coded ‘MU’ in his Uncle’s (Gerry Newey) log book. Another eagle eyed 75(NZ) researcher Wayne, noticed something in Reuben Birch‘s logbook, that was so generously donated by Martyn at the end of the week.

I’ll let Chris tell the story……………

“Had to let you know that your blog has just provided another fascinating piece in the giant jigsaw:
I had an email from Wayne this afternoon who spotted the fact that Ron Birch’s logbook also contains entries for Lancasters coded “MU”: MU-F, and MU-D.

The entries are under “Feltwell”, for the 17, 18 and 19 April 1945, training flights for G-H bombing, gyro, film and fighter affiliation, just prior to his crew being posted to Mepal.
I hadn’t registered the codes when I first browsed through Martyn’s/Ron’s logbook pages, and had assumed that the Feltwell entries were for No. 3 Lancaster Finishing School, as per Gerry’s training.
But looking back through the logbook, Ron’s crew had already trained on Lancasters at 1653 HCU, and as Wayne pointed out, 3 LFS wound up at the end of January 45.

A bit of Googling pulled up a history of Feltwell (http://www.feltwell.net/raffeltwell/articles/raf_feltwell.htm ) and reference to the formation of a special G-H Training Flight there in January 1945:   “All the RAF training resources were now concentrated on the production of crews for long range flights in the Pacific, so that a G.H. Flight came into being in January 1945 to train navigators in the use of new long range navigation devices.”

So this raises the strong possibility that the GH Training Flight at Feltwell used “MU” a/c codes, not the “A5” codes used by 3LFS. I also found reference to a “No 1 GH Course” which took place at Feltwell from 22 January to 3 February 1945: so I’m picking that the Meharry crew were on a G-H training course at Feltwell during 17-19 April.

And the two entries for MU coded a/c in Gerry’s logbook either mean:
– he and his crew attended a G-H course at Feltwell on 21, 22 March, or
– two Feltwell-based Lancasters were used for G-H training at Mepal ..? (Gerry flew 75-coded a/c JN-Z and JN-W on G-H training exercises on the 25th)

This is all quite exciting – litlle snippets of information, often looking you in the face, and next thing another door opens …! OK I’m getting a bit carried away, but I think this is very cool stuff indeed!

So thank you again for all your efforts, I’m sure you will want to know that they are already proving a big help to us old plane spotters!


I suppose over the last couple of months particularly, I have realised through the number of daily visits that there is clearly massive interest in the Squadron. When I get an email like the one above from Chris, I know ‘Jock’ would be tickled pink at how people are still interested and so willing to contribute information about their relatives for the wider benefit  of the 75(NZ) Squadron research community and to the memory of all of those brave boys.

It makes me feel I made the right decision when I decided to start this journey 18 months ago.