Home' The Wellingtonian : June 23rd 2011 Contents 2 THE WELLINGTONIAN, JUNE 23, 2011
ACT List MP
Hon Heather Roy
Out of Parliament O ce
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Fond memories: Harry
Tolley is proud of his
brother Alan's efforts in
fighting for his country.
Photo: EMMA BEER
My brother the war hero
Pilot Officer Alan Tolley
Last month we published a story about the search for relatives of two
Wellington airmen who died in World War II. The story generated considerable
publicity and family members of one of the airmen, Alan Gray Tolley, were
located. Emma Beer spoke to Harry Tolley, a Masterton resident and brother
of Pilot Officer Tolley.
Alan Tolley was a man of strong
moral standards, who died fight-
ing for his country, says his proud
The war hero was born in 1921
and grew up in Kelburn and
Northland, attending Kelburn
Normal Primary School.
Harry, now 93, said that while
at school his brother developed
into a man with very strong
In particular, he was opposed
to drink and all those things. No
such thing as drugs in those
Alan was a strong church-goer
and the philosophy of those
people, at St Michael's Church,
became part of him, Harry said.
At that time Alan was a scout
and a cub.
So those moral standards
tended to develop with that
environment, and at the same
time [he was] a very good
Both men went on to attend
To get there Alan rode a push
bike all the way from Northland.
It was a pretty good thing to do,''
After leaving school, Alan
became a part-time night student
at a private accounting college,
He worked for the North Island
Motor Union, a predecessor of the
Automobile Association, as
an accounting clerk.
Harry said they were close
as brothers and shared com-
mon interests, such as
sports. Alan was a keen ten-
About mid-1939, as the
war was beginning, Alan
decided to join the service.
At that stage the war clouds
were developing over Europe.
Alan, because of his loyalty as a
New Zealander, decided he
wanted to be a serviceman of some
sort and had a particular interest
in becoming an air force person.''
Harry said that was probably
because he and his Wellington
College companions were keen
sportsmen and keen people in all
those fields of exciting stimulating
Alan completed a six-month
pre-entrance course for pilots and
then joined the full-time training
classes. Harry also joined the mili-
tary, serving in the army.
Once deployed, Alan was
involved in many air raids.
The flying crews of those days
flew on various types of aircraft,
including the Wellington Bomber
and Stirling Bomber.''
On his final flight, Alan was
captain of a Stirling Bomber,
which departed on April 20, 1943.
While over Denmark on the
return leg, the plane was shot
down. All seven men on board
Harry said he was very proud''
of his younger brother, who died
fighting for what he believed in.
I want to emphasis that he's a
New Zealander, having all the
characteristics of having good
training which developed into a
loyalty for his country.
It's a nice thing, at this point to
make a story about those really
good people who served to pre-
serve the freedoms and enjoyment
of life that we enjoy.''
Harry recalled a story which
Alan told, with a great deal of
enjoyment'', in one of his many
[They went] to a concert where
Vera Lynn [also known as The
Forces' Sweetheart''] was the star.
These young men worked their
way forward to get on to the stage
to meet Vera Lynn. That was a big
thing, a highlight.''
Harry said if Alan had come
home after the war he most likely
would have continued with
He would have become a com-
pany secretary and probably from
there moved on to executive
officer and then some meaningful
type of business.''
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