Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 42, September 1998

Hamish Auckland Wilson, President of the Paeroa Historical Society from 1979 until 1982, died suddenly on 23 September 1997 at the age of 77.

Hamish was born in Thames on 13 December 1920. He attended Netherton school and in 1927, at the age of seven, travelled to the United Kingdom with his mother. They later returned to Paeroa and he attended the Paeroa High School and is remembered as being the last student to have ridden his horse to school. As a youngster he was full of pranks and he alleged that he was one of three who were responsible for the sinking of the "Kopu" at its mooring at the Paeroa Wharf in 1935.

During the Second World War Hamish served in the Air Force and, as a rear gunner on Stirling bombers, went on five bombing raids over Europe. Each time something went wrong and twice the crew had to bail out. On the fifth occasion, the aircraft, heavily laden with bombs, failed to get sufficient height after take-off and crashed. The crew attempted to clear the burning aircraft but the captain, unable to help the trapped and unconscious mid-upper gunner, called for Hamish Wilson's help. Badly burnt, the three managed to cross a fence and two fields before the bomber exploded. For his bravery in returning to the blazing aircraft to rescue his fellow crew member, Hamish was awarded the George Medal.

Hamish returned to New Zealand in August 1943, because of war wounds and in January 1944 married Joan Farrell at Whangarei. The couple had six children, four daughters and two sons. One son died in infancy and the other later died of leukaemia.

As a farmer, Hamish's greatest passion was the Ayrshire breed of cattle, the "red and whites", he was so fond of talking about. He believed the Ayrshire to be a superior breed, both for their yield and protein rating.

He was the longest serving member of the Netherton School Committee, long time member, secretary and later, with Joan, Patron of the A.& P. Show Association. He was also a member of the Caledonian Society, cattle and calf judge and whip of the Maramarua Hunt Club. As a keen Forest and Bird Protection Society member he was often witnessed tying knots in young saplings, mainly tanekaha. In years to come these knotted trees will be wondered at . . . He taught his children to love the bush, trees, animals and birds. He valued history and tradition and was proud to be a fourth generation New Zealander.

He is survived by his wife, Joan, four daughters, 16 grandchildren and four great grand children.