Marshall Sir Hector McGregor, in a
distinguished 36-year career
with the Royal Air Force, achieved the
of any airman from Hawkes Bay.
time in the RAF spanned the era from
stringbag biplanes to
from .303 machine guns to guided
As a fledgling Pilot Officer, the first
fighter he flew was the
Armstrong Whitworth Siskin III, a fabric
covered bi-plane with a top speed of 141
HB Cultural Trust
Whitworth Siskin III
an Air Marshall, he flew the Hawker
jet fighter in supersonic flight, thereby
a member of the Swept Wing Club and
a scroll saying that he
alone and unaided splitte ye sound
Sir Hector was born in
Wairoa, Hawkes Bay, and received his education as
a boarder at Napier Boys High School.
One of his teachers was Mr R V deR Worker, a
pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during WWI.
Although Sir Hectors initial inclination
was to become a doctor, perhaps it was Rupert
encouraged him to pursue a career in military
In 1928, at the age
of 18 and never having flown in an aeroplane, he
was accepted as a direct entry cadet
into the RAF on a short service commission.
Looking back to that time in later years he said
he went to England
with an inferiority complex. I felt I was
up against something, but I soon found that New
can compete with comfort in England. His
subsequent career was testament to this.
gaining his wings, the first flying posting was
with Treble One Squadron.
Next, during the period when the Fleet Air Arm
was part of the RAF, he served as a pilot with No
(Fleet Fighter) Flight attached to HMS
Courageous. In 1932 he was granted a permanent
thereafter held several engineering and staff
officer jobs until appointed in 1938 as
of No 33 Squadron in Egypt. In March 1939 the
squadron, equipped with Gloster Gladiators, moved
and was tasked with assisting ground forces to
round up armed bands of tribesmen who were
certain areas, and was awarded the Distinguished
Service Order for his leadership in these
The unit then deployed to the Western Desert at
the outbreak of WW2. McGregor subsequently
to Britain in Jan 1940 to take up a Staff role.
When the Germans invaded the
Low Countries and France in May 1940 he did a
brief conversion onto
Hurricanes at an Operational Training Unit before
being appointed to command No 213 Squadron.
In the first week of June his Hurricane was badly
damaged in action over Dunkirk.
He had to ditch into the sea and was rescued by
an evacuation boat returning to Dover.
As the Battle of Britain gained in intensity
during July and August his squadron became
in escorting deep-sea convoys into Plymouth.
On 1 Sep 1940 he was
promoted to Wing Commander and did not fly
Wartime appointments that followed included
officer commanding two RAF Stations, planning
a Fighter Group and at Fighter Command and
Officer Commanding Fighter Commands
(which included Nos 485 and 486 [NZ]
After the War his career continued to advance
through a broad range of roles.
to Air Marshall and appointment as
Air Officer Commander in Chief of Fighter
Command followed in July 1959.
He was knighted in 1960.
Then in May 1962 he took up his final RAF
appointment in Singapore as Air Officer
Commander in Chief of the Far East Air
Force with responsibility for all Air
in the South East Asia Treaty
Hectors first visit back to New
Zealand was in 1956.
He returned again in 1962 where he was
guest of honour at his old school.
There waiting to greet him was his old
headmaster, MR WA Armour,
and four other teachers who had taught
Messrs RH Milburn, CJ Bagley, WA Stewart
and RV de R Worker.
For a brief moment he was a schoolboy
again, sitting at his old desk in Room 7.
As a distinguished
son of Hawkes Bay he was invited to
officially open the new Hawkes Bay
Airport in February 1964.
HB Cultural Trust
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