Service Personnel
Flight Lieutenant
This is a very brief account of just one of the 11,000 aircrew
New Zealand supplied for WW2; a Hawkes Bay country lad, G.G.White.
In 1940 at the age of 20 Geof White was quite happy to remain working on the Takapau farm
where he was born. The Battle of Britain was over, but the situation in Europe was not looking good.
He decided the honourable thing to do was to join up. Although at that stage his feet had never
left the ground, he applied for the Air Force, since this seemed an air war.
It was a 14 month wait before ground training in Levin.
Then a shift to New Plymouth to be introduced to Tiger Moths,
followed by more flying at Ohakea in Hawker Hinds.
Within months, Geof found himself with a small group of
fledging pilots who were told to pack their kits
and board a boat. After leaving port, they were informed
their destination was England.
Further training at a base near Bristol this time on the Miles Master and Hurricanes,
where Geof proved himself to be above average in flying and aerial gunnery.
He was posted to Biggin Hill 611 Spitfire squadron,
whose main task was escorting daylight bombers over France
and intercepting hit and run Germans attacking the
South coast of England.

611 Sqdn Biggin Hill
After several months, he was again boarded onto a ship.
This time, after leaving port, the destination announced was Gibraltar, where he, (and eight others),
were to fly Mk IX Spitfires the 1000 miles in three hops to Malta and be based there.
This latter journey alone was full of incidences, two aircraft did not make it.
Malta was a handy target for both German and Italian bombers
and fighters. This strategic base was a thorn in the Axis side.
The airfields of Malta were bombed with regular occurrence.

Malta. 126 sqdrn with C.O

Geof White's Spit breaks off
attack on freighter
The five squadrons based there had plenty to do.
As well as ground and shipping attacks, Geof White downed several
enemy aircraft, plus at one stage, under heavy enemy fire,
set a 1000 ton freighter burning with a low level attack.
The ship eventually ran aground on the Italian coast.
2 bombed Spits.Malta 109 forced landed Malta Another Hun less fortunate.
The exploits encountered in Malta would fill several chapters
but here is his account of his last operational sortie:

“ With the invasion of Sicily by the Allies, our flight (126 Squadron) was sent off to hunt
Messerschmitt 109’s which were shooting up the front line towards Syracuse.
When we arrived I got behind one fairly smartly but when I fired, the cannon in the port wing didn’t
work and the recoil from the working one slewed the aircraft to one side enough to ruin my aim.
I turned on him again and the same thing happened. At this stage tracer streamed past
my cockpit from behind and I looked back to see a 109 firing at me luckily from long range.
He didn’t look that dangerous but I thought I had better do something about it.
He was about a1000 yards behind and about 1000 feet higher, so I pulled up into a fairly steep
climb. Looking back I saw he hadn’t followed and was heading back toward his base.
I turned and gave chase to a second one closing the gap to a perfect position about 200
yards behind, and knowing the canons were useless, gave him a long burst with the six
.303 machine guns and I got the distinct impression he was receiving quite a bit of damage.
He dropped down into a long narrow valley but I kept above and behind him, lowered the
nose to give him a couple of short bursts. He finally came up to my level because there was
a ridge ahead. I thought at this stage he would bail out ( this had happened in the past when
the canopy was suddenly ejected and the pilot jumped out right in front of my nose), but
apparently he decided to do a forced landing. There was a flat piece of land in front which
looked fairly rough. He ran the 109 with its wheels up onto the uneven ground, it slid along OK for
a short distance, but then there was an awful explosion and that was the end of him.”

Spit 1X in pen at Malta
At the end of this action Geof White reported sick,
and spent the next 12 months hospitalised in England with TB.
It was the end of his fighting career.