Sometimes you get a reminder of home in the most unexpected places.
For Invercargill couple Alex and Evelyn Glennie, that happened on a recent visit to Scotland.
Mrs Glennie (nee Ford), hails originally from Oamaru, and she got a surprise when she and her husband visited a World War 2 war memorial in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, and spotted the name of a familiar town.
Among the eight names listed on the memorial was that of Flying Officer James William Thomson, one of the pilots on the Vickers Wellington bomber that crashed on January 19, 1942, during a training flight in the Cairngorm mountains.
The memorial was created from one of the Bristol Pegasus engines removed from the crash site years later.
Flying Officer Thomson, the son of James sen and Laura Thomson, was born in Oamaru on August 7, 1916.
He worked as a civil servant before joining the Royal New Zealand Air Force in February 1940.
He flew on night raids over Germany and earned a mention in the official history of the RNZAF for his actions on a bombing run in June 1940.
Hie crew had attacked Dusseldorf when it had a “harrowing experience”. From the official history:
“After the target had been bombed, the Wellington was twice caught and held by a cone of searchlights. Intense anti-aircraft fire was directed at the aircraft and one burst turned it over on its back and sent it hurtling down in a steep dive.
“Thomson blacked out for a few moments but recovered in time to pull his machine out of the dive and climb again to a safe height.
“Then, 25 miles north-east of Antwerp, the bomber was again picked up by searchlights and engaged by the ground defences. Suddenly the anti-aircraft fire stopped to make way for a Junkers 88, which riddled the Wellington with machine-gun and cannon fire.
“The rear gunner replied and the enemy machine turned sharply away and disappeared. Meanwhile a fire had broken out in the bomber, but it was soon extinguished by the crew.”
Flying Officer Thomson earned the Distinguished Flying Cross on September 18, 1941, and later joined the 20 Operational Training Unit.
He is buried at the Dyce Old Churchyard in Aberdeenshire.