|Frank during his training as a wireless operator|
Frank "Tinker" Symes was born on 3 March 1924 in Wairoa, northern Hawke's Bay,
|Frank (L) at the age of about 17|
He was educated at Nuhaka Primary School (1929-37) and then attended Hastings Boys' High (1938-39). Frank enjoyed playing cricket and football and was a member of the Hasting Boys' 1st XV Rugby Team.
Frank's father Stuart passed away on 12 January 1941. Frank was employed by his uncle, Bert, in Waverley, Taranaki as a farm labourer when he first applied to enlist in the RNZAF in 1941.
|Frank (R) in Canada in 1943|
Frank's service in the RNZAF commenced in July 1942 when he was 18 years' old. He eventually trained as a wireless operator and air gunner and departed New Zealand on 1 April 1943 to continue training in Canada where he was promoted to Flight Sergeant. He was then transferred to the United Kingdom and in December 1944 he and the rest of the Mallon crew were joined by Bob Jay. After their posting to Mepal on the 6th March 1945 Frank flew eight operational sorties, remaining with the crew until the end of hostilities. He continued as Eric Butler's Wireless Operator in 'Tiger Force'* until he left on the 27th August 1945, eventually returning to New Zealand in December 1945 and being demobbed in March 1946.
*'Tiger Force', also known as 'Very Long Range Bomber Force', was formed after V.E. Day from Bomber Command squadrons for use against targets in Japan in support of U.S. forces. They were going to be deployed to the Far East but were disbanded in August 1945 when the Japanese surrendered.
Some time later he received his medals:
- France and Germany and Star
- Defence Medal
- War Medal
- NZ War Service Medal
After service Frank eventually returned to the Wairoa district and moved
|Frank & Winnie on their wedding day|
Frank and Winnie married on 3 November 1954 in Wairoa, where they then lived. Frank worked at the local Freezing works and then at the Deluxe Ford Gas Service Station. Frank and Winnie went on to have seven children - six sons and one daughter: Stuart (deceased), Yvonne, Graeme, John, Anthony, Stephen and Cecil.
Frank passed away on 4 November 1979 at the age of 55, coincidentally the same age at which Bob died, and is buried at the Wairoa Cemetery, next to his mother Ellen. He is survived by Winnie, six children and 26 grand children. Winnie, Yvonne, two of Frank's sons, Graeme and John, and daughter-in-law Pauline (wife of the late Stuart) still live in the Wairoa district.
Sadly, Frank and Winnie's eldest son Stuart was killed in a car accident in 2012 at the age of 56.
|Frank & Winnie with (L to R) Stuart, Yvonne, Graeme, Antony (baby) and John. Stephen & Cecil were yet to be born.|