Interview with Iris Dare


Interview with Iris Dare


Iris was born in a village outside Newcastle. At the beginning of 1940 she went to Gosforth to join up for the Royal Air Force. Iris liked the idea of uniformed service more than the option of becoming a nurse. She was then sent to Swansea for about 18 months to train as a balloon operator, which involved a lot of heavy work. She was paid £1.30 for two weeks but loved her time in the Royal Air Force. Iris was posted to Stockport on balloons but later on she became a driver. She explained what working on balloons involved – splicing ropes, lifting concrete blocks and looking after the balloons. Nicknamed 'softy', she allowed her eight girls to go to the pub while being the corporal in charge of 16 girls, eight working each night. Despite her brother’s help, the balloon got loose and was eventually found in Switzerland. Iris went to the London area for three weeks to be tested for her sergeant’s stripes, which she gained although she admitted that she hadn’t deserved them. She then returned to Swansea, but she did not like Wales because people used to speak in English, but when they saw them in uniform, they switched immediately to Welsh so that they could not be understood.
Iris met Maurice at the New Zealand Officers Club in London and they married eight months later at a church that had been bombed the day before at Clapham Common. Maurice was born in June 1922 in Newcastle. In January 1940 he joined the Royal Air Force and from 1944 he flew as a New Zealand Lancaster pilot with 75 Squadron Maurice had completed a full tour of operations. In July 2019, Norman McDonald and Alf Bannon were the only two surviving members of his crew, still alive in New Zealand. Maurice never expressed regrets about what he had done during the war. His brother Charlie had been a prisoner of war. After Maurice finished a tour in December 1944, having done four years, he and Iris went back to New Zealand. Their first daughter, Marcia, was born in 1945 and Andrea followed. They stayed in New Zealand for 19 years before returning to England. Before the war Maurice had worked in a warehouse. After the war he became manager of the linen department of a warehouse in Auckland. On return to England he got a job with Paton & Baldwin Wools.




Temporal Coverage




00:58:54 audio recording


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GT: This is Wednesday the 4th of July 2018, and I am at the home of Mrs Iris Dare, wife of Maurice Edward Dare, a New Zealand Lancaster pilot of 75 New Zealand Squadron RAF, from 1944. Iris was born Nineteen June 1922 in Newcastle, England and joined the RAF in January 1940. Iris, thank you for having me in your home. Can you please tell me why you joined the Royal Air Force, and when?
ID: It was a time when I was making up my mind whether I should join the air force or do- Go into nursing. Well, the air force won because of one thing, the uniform [chuckles].
GT: [Chuckles]
ID: That’s all, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I enjoyed every minute of five years.
GT: So, you joined from Newcastle?
ID: I joined in 19- At the beginning of January 1940. The war had just started. I mean I can remember as if it were yesterday. I was listening to the radio and I heard them say, you know, ‘We are at war with Germany.’ Oh dear. Oh, I know what, should I do nursing, no, I like the uniform, I’d rather be in the women’s air force. So, I went to- I was born in a village outside Newcastle, but I went to Gosforth to join up and from there, as I say, they sent me down to Swansea down, right down in Wales, and I was there for about eighteen month I think, and it was- I’m sure it was the start of the training of- To be a balloon operator, which was- I enjoyed in a way but, only to a certain degree because there was a lot of heavy work attached to being that person. But, well, as I say, I got used to it and I enjoyed being with the girls, I mean, I made a lot of friends. It was really, really an- I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy one minute [emphasis] of being in the women’s air force. I absolutely loved it, loved it and, I mean, I’m sure the girls today have a better time than we had [chuckles] I mean, when you think about it, we used to get paid one-pound-thirty for a fortnight. But a lot of the things that we had and were given were from Lord Halifax, he used to supply us with all sorts of things, free. So, we had really nothing to spend the money on, only luxuries, and we spent them very quickly. By the end of the fortnight, nobody had any money, nobody. But of course, when I got married to Mauri, every now and again he would send me a five-pound note [emphasis], I mean, I don’t- Do they have five-pound notes now? Well, he used to send me that and of course, I used to treat all the girls, we’d go up to the NAAFI and we’d have- Because on a Thursday, you only had horse meat for your dinner and I didn’t like that, so we used to go to the NAAFI and have what you call a sticky bun and a cup of coffee [chuckles] and I used to pay for the girls. That was practically the end of the five pounds, oh gosh [chuckles].
GT: So, when you were doing square bashing and marching and all that kind of stuff, or was it admin or?
ID: You do that at your initial training, and I won, well, no I didn’t win, I mean, they had a word of command, that is to take the parade, and I thought- There was two people left after we’d had the audition, I was one, and a young girl, seventeen, was the- Another one, she won it, I didn’t get to go with the passing out parade, she did it.
GT: Seventeen.
ID: But, I mean, I do try to speak clearly because of Andrea being deaf.
GT: So, when you were doing your marching, you joined up in January, that was winter for England was it? So, were you in skirts or did they give you trousers ‘cause it must’ve been really cold?
ID: Well, we had the dress uniform and a battle dress, trousers and a what do you call it? Top thing.
GT: Tunic, tunic?
ID: But that was mainly for working, but I mean I've seen a lot of the girls, when I was there, they would wear them to go out with but I never did, I used to wear my uniform. But that is about the only time I have ever had a skirt, I mean, the lady today said to me, she’s taking me to the hospital, she said, ‘I think you should wear a skirt,’ I said, ‘A skirt [emphasis]? I have never owned such a thing as a skirt’ [chuckles]. Oh dear, honestly, but it was a wonderful time, wonderful. I recommend it.
GT: So, they posted you to Stockport on balloons, did they?
ID: Yes, that was- I was first on balloons. But, then later on I became a driver, and I used to-
GT: Now, with the balloons though, what did you do to look after the balloons? And your brother was involved, you said?
ID: No, I didn’t do anything before the balloons, that’s the first thing I was taught on. But-
GT: And what did that involve Iris? What, did you have to do for the balloons?
ID: Well, to start off with, you’ve got to learn how to splice ropes, you learnt how to lift heavy concrete blocks, and you’ve got to look after a balloon, which I didn’t and got severely told off for.
GT: What happened Iris? What happened?
ID: I don’t know, I mean, when I was a corporal, I went out with the girls one night and I had, I think about nine gin and oranges, by the time I came outside, I got back to the billet and of course, in the thing that we were living in, this tin thing, you have a separate room, the girls are in there and you’ve got a room to yourself. Well, I came in and I lay down and everything went round and round and afterwards, I told one of the girls, she said, ‘You should have lain on your stomach and you wouldn’t have had that,’ and I said, ‘Now she tells me’. But, the WAAF officer came round that morning, and she had to interview me sort of for the day, and well she, she looked at me and she said, (it was a very warm day) she said, ‘Are you alright corporal?’ I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘It’s a nice day and you’ve got your battle dress on and a big scarf round your neck,’ she said, ‘Aren’t you hot?’ [chuckles]. I don’t know, honestly, I felt so embarrassed but, I found the officers very nice, very nice, but I like the uniform today, I really do.
GT: So, tell me how you lost a balloon?
ID: Oh, don’t mention the balloon [emphasis]. Honestly, I was left- I was a corporal and I had sixteen girls. Now, you let eight go on the evening up till ten o’clock, that’s alternate every night, eight go, the next night the other eight go. Well, I was left with eight girls and, as I say, it was a beautiful night, and they said, ‘Can’t we just go down the pub?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m sure, you know, nothing’s going to happen, yeah’. And I should never have let them go. Well, I mean, you know what they used to call me? Softie. They just had to say it and I would say yes, and I was sitting- And they hadn’t gone ten minutes [emphasis] and the bell rang from headquarters, ‘Bed all balloons’ and I thought, ‘Oh gosh what do I do?’. You’ve got to have an eight crew to do that ‘cause everybody has their individual job, and my brother was on the next site (he’s as daft as a brush) and I rang him and I said, ‘Can you come round and help me?’. So, he came round, and he said, ‘What do you want me to do?’ I said, ‘Can you drive the winch, that reels in the balloon?,’ and on the balloon, you’ve got fifteen feet and then you’ve got a bag, and then another fifteen feet and you’ve got another bag. Now the thing was, that they hoped a plane would come along, go in that bit in between, cut the wire and it would cling on to their plane wing, saw the wing off and it would down the plane. I think it did, one or two times, I'm not sure, I’m sure I'd heard that they’d done it a few times. Well, he gets into this winch- Honest, I can’t tell you how- I stood there watching him and I thought, ‘Oh god, what is he doing?’. And he did that, and they fired, and off the balloon went, and I had to ring headquarters and had to speak to a Sergeant Starky, so he came round about an hour later, asked me what I'd done and I told him, and I said, ‘Have they found it yet?’. He said, ‘Yes, they’ve shot it down over Switzerland.’ And that was the end of my [unclear], he said, ‘Don’t let me ever [emphasis] see you do that again.’ It wasn’t my fault, but I got the blame. Anyway, that’s the story.
GT: Did they post you from barrage balloons, away- At that time or did you stay on for a while?
ID: No, I was there for a while. I was there until I went down to- God, it’s down London ways. You go there, to be tested and the officer that I was with up in Stockport had put my name down to go down there to be tested. This is to get your stripes. I went down there, we were there for three weeks, and they test everything you do on the balloon. Well, I was living off everybody else's brains. I mean, I was standing next to a girl and we were standing there in a group, and the instructor was there, and he asked the girl to do something with the balloon and she hadn’t done it, and it was to untie- The balloon was tied to hold it down, she hadn’t done that right, and then a girl standing next to me said [whispering under her breath], ‘She hasn’t untied the balloon,’ I said, [louder] ‘She hasn’t untied the balloon,’ he said, ‘Give that girl marks’ [chuckles] I got the marks and they didn’t. But that’s how I think- I mean, as I say, there was twenty-two girls on the course at the time, and I'm sure there was no more than four or five when you go up for the last day and they tell you whether you- I mean, there was a girl there called something King, a blonde girl, she come from London and she really studied hard, every night she studied, and I was going out enjoying myself, I thought, ‘I’m just here for a party and a nice time,’ I never [emphasis] did any studying. Anyway, at the end of the day, I went in and- As I say, there was these three ladies and two men at a table, and they just looked down the page and they said, ‘Congratulations Corporal,’ and that’s how I got my stripes. I really didn’t deserve them, not really. But, then on- I mean I was ok, it was then that I was sent to- Down to Swansea again, and, it was so [emphasis] remote, there was that place and the next place to it and I was at a place called St Mawgan. I’d never been to Wales, but I didn’t like it, for the simple reason, the people were awful. They used to- If you were in a pub, sitting there and they would come in, they would be talking in English, the minute they saw you in uniform, they’d go back to their dialogue- Welsh, you know. I don’t know why they didn’t want you to hear, I mean I wasn’t bothered about what they were doing, I really couldn’t have cared less, but I do think- I mean, I don’t probably think they’re like that now, but they were like that then. I’m sure things have changed, I'm sure, but I don’t like Wales. Oh, dark, drab place, it really is.
GT: So, when you were as a corporal with the balloons there- You had a bit of competition?
ID: A competition?
GT: You had some competition with the other girls I hear? And one of them-
ID: Oh no, no, I still acted as if I was one of the girls, and I was smartly told off, I wasn’t.
GT: Did you get your sergeants stripes?
ID: Yes, I did, but as I say, when he came round, the officer, one day, a man, I said, ‘I don’t want them anymore, I really don’t, you don’t get paid enough.’ So, he said, ‘I think you’re very silly,’ I said, ‘Why?’ he said, ‘Your sergeants stripe came through this morning,’ [chuckles] I said, ‘Oh right’. Because from then, I went from one-thirty a fortnight to four-pound-forty a fortnight, thought I’ll have that, yes. That was good, I had that. So that’s why I took it actually [chuckles]. Honestly- No I was ok as a sergeant but I never got any further, that was all I got up to, for five years.
GT: So now, tell me how you met Mauri, because we’ve got, we’ve got Mauri, Flying Officer Maurice Edward Dare, a pilot from New Zealand and he arrived in around about March 1944 to England, and so, from there how did you meet him?
ID: Well, I was on this site up in London in Clapham Common and there was a girl there called Tina, she was a corporal, and I, I mean, I wasn’t a friend of hers, I didn’t go out with her at all. Do you know what she used to go- Have you heard of David Niven? She used to go out with him. She was the most gorgeous looking girl, blonde hair, beautiful teeth, beautiful skin - She had everything, and one night, in the summer there was- Her girls, she’d sent them on the day off, or evening off and she was going to go off too, and it was my night off, and she said, ‘Are you doing anything?’ and I said, ‘Not really’, she said, ‘Well, would you like to come with me to town?’, and I said, ‘Yeah, ok’. I’d never been with her before, and we go up there and I said, ‘Have you got any special place in mind?’, she said, ‘Oh, I think’ (How she knew it, I don’t know) she said, ‘I’m gonna- I think we’ll go to the New Zealand officers club’. I said, ‘Oh right, ok, never been to that before’. So, we went in, there was an empty table, we sat down, the next table was Mauri and I think four or five of his crew, and we sat there for a while, didn’t seem to get very far and she said, ‘You think we should go?’, I said, ‘Well, not much going on here’. So, we got up to go and Mauri looked across, he said, ‘Are you going?’, and I looked, I said ‘Well we thought about it’. He said, ‘Why don’t you join us?’. So, I would think as a I say, there was four men of his crew with him, and three of them left him and Danny Boon. Now, Tina went to sit next to Danny Boon and I’d sat next to Mauri, and we had the evening with them and then they took us back to Clapham Common, and the next morning, they were out there, when we were doing something to the balloon, I looked and they were standing at the railings, and Mauri was swinging a key. I said, ‘What are you doing with that?’, he said, ‘We’ve just booked into a hotel across the road’ [chuckles] and they were on a week's holiday. So, we went out the first night, she went with Danny and I went with Mauri. The next night, she said to me, ‘Can we swap because I like yours better than mine?’, I said, ‘Don’t be silly, you can’t do that, that’s terrible’, so she said, ‘Oh, I thought you might change, ‘cause I’m not keen on that one’. But, she ended up marrying him, really, Danny Boon of Whakatāne and his family are supposed to be the most well-known people in that area, and I mean, Danny when he married Tina, on the property they had he built a house because the big house was where his mother used to live with her two daughters and Tina, she’s a cockney, she just says what she thinks, you know? And the mother-in-law said to her one day, ‘Tina, did you know we had a lady in our family?’, and Tina just said, ‘Well, I think we’ve all [emphasis] got a bow to our- We’ve all got a something to our bow’ [laughs]. She was, she was awful. But, anyway, being as he only had two sisters, the mother died, so of course he took over and he went to live in the big house but he then supplied a house for his two sisters, and he let the house that he’d had down from the house to a chap that was working on the farm. So, we went down once to have a weekend with him, and we had to get up at four o’clock in the morning, and Mauri was supposed to milk the cows and there was just two little calves that had just been born, and I said to Danny, ‘What have you called them?’, he said, ‘Well let Marcia name them’. So she named them Marci and Andrea [laughs] the two little calves.
GT: That was after the war-
ID: Oh yes, after.
GT: But I would like to know, how you and Mauri got on, and how you knew he was a flyer? Did he tell you?
ID: Flying. Well, I didn’t always know when he was flying, but if he could tell me he would, but I mean sometimes he would come over the house that we were renting at the time, it was a village, he’d dip down and go up and dip down again, I used to have the kids standing outside waving to him [chuckles]. You could see him [emphasis] in the cockpit, he was so low.
GT: Did he tell you he was flying on 75 Squadron, or couldn’t he tell you anything?
ID: Oh yes, he told me. Yes, he told me. But I didn’t know what 75th Squadron meant.
GT: Oh [emphasis] 75 Squadron, not 75th.
ID: Well, isn’t it the only one in New Zealand?
GT: Oh, now it is, but back then it was 75 New Zealand Squadron Royal Air Force, yeah. So, so when he was flying and doing his ops, did he let you know or?
ID: If he could.
GT: You’d become a couple by then, had you?
ID: Oh yes, yes, and we were in a village and not far up the road, was the station where he was. If he wanted a babysitter, he would get a young chap and a young chap came down one night and he said, ‘Can I ask, what is your name?’, I said, ‘Dare’, he said ‘Dare, any relation to Charlie Dare?’, I said, ‘It’s Mauri’s brother’, he said, ‘See these teeth? He filled them in the camp’. He was training to be a dentist, and when he got back to New Zealand, the government offered to pay for him to finish training and become a complete dentist.
GT: So that was Mauri’s brother?
ID: Yes.
GT: So Mauri’s brother RNZAF, and he joined-
ID: He- Charlie, there was only the two brothers there was no daughters in their family at all. But, Charlie, I mean after- He was shot down on the first trip, so he was a prisoner of war for four-and-a-half years, a sorry mess when he came home, very sorry mess. Crippled with arthritis because of lack of food. I mean, he told me one day that the Gestapo had come into their camp, stopped at their Nissen Hut where they were and they had a horse and trap and when they came out to get their horse and trap, it was just the trap. They’d taken the horse, killed it and eaten it. He said, they used to scrape the scrap heaps where the cook had put them out, (potato peelings, things like that) boil them up and put- I don’t know, they used to get some beans or something from the Germans, they didn’t feed them well, not at all. But-
GT: And Mauri got to see Charlie after the air force, but- Now, when did you marry Mauri?
ID: Eight months after I met him.
GT: And he was still flying on operations at the time?
ID: Yes, but he was on holiday that week.
GT: And where did you marry?
ID: At Clapham Common, where I was stationed. I was there, oh quite a while, up in London. Clapham Common was where we were married and we were married in a church that was bombed the night before and the altar where you- At the top, the minister told us to do kneeling, he said, ‘I can’t ask you to kneel, because it’s all broken glass down here’. But the morning we were supposed to marry, I stayed with another girl, it’s on my wedding photos, she’s the corporal, I stayed with her. Got ready the next morning, came to the church, I managed- I don’t know, oh I know, there was a chap I'd met from the army at Catterick camp, and- Oh it’s long before I met Mauri, and he became a prisoner of war, I had forgotten about him and then all of a sudden I got this letter that they sent from Germany and it was from him [emphasis] and it said he was sending me fifty pound, and I thought, ‘What is he doing?’, I wrote back, I said, ‘Why are you sending me fifty pounds?’, he said, ‘I want you to buy an engagement ring’, and I got- He gave me the address of his mother, she lived I think in Manchester, so I got in touch with her and I said, ‘I’ve got to send you this money because I don’t want to get engaged to him, I really don’t’. So, she said, ‘If he gave you that money, then you keep that money’. So, I used that money to buy my plain clothes to get married to Mauri [chuckles], aren’t I horrible?
GT: Who was your best man?
ID: Warren [unclear], navigator of his.
GT: The navigator of Mauri’s crew.
ID: I didn’t know the rest of the crew.
GD: Yeah.
ID: I’m surprised that anybody of their left alive.
GT: Well, just to briefly mention the crew of Mauri. So, you had Mauri Dare as the pilot, G. Warren as the navigator, N. McDonald as the bomb aimer, W. Neville as the wireless operator, J. Dunbar as the flight engineer, A. Bannon as the mid-upper gunner and G. Lawton as the rear gunner, and currently, as of July 2018, Norman McDonald the bomb aimer and Alf Bannan the mid-upper gunner are still alive in New Zealand.
ID: Well, I mean I don’t know how friendly he was with these men, but he never mentioned them, only the guy that was our best man, and at the time Mauri had just got his commission and he had no money, so that Warren chap lent him a hundred-pound [chuckles] and as soon as he got paid his back money, he paid him back of course. But, ah the times, I wish it was now, I wish I was in it now. I really [emphasis] do, it was much better than anything I’ve been in, and I would’ve- I mean, my girlfriend back in New Zealand, she was- She came from Scotland, she- I’ve asked you, haven’t I? Did you hear- Have you heard of Whitecliff Saw Mill? It’s just outside Auckland. Well, Jimmy, his father owned that, and he had three brothers, and when he went back to New Zealand, the father died and they were supposed to share, the four of them, but the other three, apart from Jim, didn’t want it. So he raised money to pay them out and he took it, and he’d married Jan. Now, when we got to New Zealand, we stayed with Mauri’s mother and we were there about three months, and Charlie, he was in something- The [unclear] flag, I think, renting, and he wanted to be somewhere near. He’d got in touch with the, the chap that I told you- There was Mr Butland[?] that got made Sir Butland[?] with the money, he gave seventy-five-thousand, he said it was his profits, he gave it to England to help the war effort, and he got knighted for it, and his wife, Mrs Butland- I mean, he was going flying around in- Oh god- A big American car, blue, blue something and she had this little old Austin, she wouldn’t change, and her and I got on absolutely famous. When we left, she said- She sent word when we came back when he had the Panama Canal thing, she sent word she wanted to see us and I went up to this big house in Remuera and she gave me a present and she had a lovely silver cigarette case for Mauri with his initials on and a picture of New Zealand, and she had for Marcia a lovely little pair of patent leather shoes, and we were sitting there talking and I heard in the distance something like a bell, and I said, ‘What’s that?’, and she said, ‘Oh, it’s a bell in the far wing’. They had tennis courts, swimming pool everything, but she never, ever, would’ve let anybody think that she had anything. I mean she was so down to earth but her family, all like that.
GT: Now, Iris take me back to the, the end of ‘44, you’d married Mauri and Mauri was continuing with air operations. During that time, did you ever worry about losing Mauri?
ID: Tomorrow?
GT: Did you ever worry about losing Mauri, being shot down for instance?
ID: Oh gosh, yes, yes, absolutely. But as soon as he could he would ring through and let me- Oh, I mean not me, the neighbour that had a phone, not many people had a phone in those days, not a landline. I mean, mobiles never heard of anyway. But they would- Yes, he would let me know but- For going over, as I say, he would write a letter and he’d put a cross on the bottom and he told me previously, if I ever do that, you know I'm going on a raid and- I mean, it was quite often he did that, and that was a night raid.
GT: So, you were in Clapham and he was in Mepal, so he would write you a letter, how long did it take for that letter to get from him to you? Couple of days?
ID: Just, different things that were going on, but nothing that would give away any secrets what so ever, never.
GT: Did he ever have any black marks on his letter?
ID: No [emphasis], no, that was only [chuckles] when this chap in the army was writing to me, I thought, ‘There’s not much of a letter left there, only a couple of words’, so silly. I mean, they never mentioned the war, I don’t know what the Germans were afraid of.
GT: So that was- Oh you mean the British Intelligence because they were worried about censorship of the letters, I understand, yeah.
ID: I’m sorry I didn’t get-
GT: So that was the censorship of the letters wasn’t it? So, so, ok, so did you ever go to Mepal to visit Mauri?
ID: To visit?
GT: Yeah, did you visit Mauri in Mepal air base?
ID: Oh yes, yes. In fact my granddaughter took him just after he’d had his first stroke when he was seventy-something to a base near Peterborough. She took him for the day, and he got down there and there was three chaps waiting for him, to show him around and then they took him into the officer’s mess for lunch, and they took him onto the plane and my granddaughter said, honestly, she said, ‘They were trying to tell him what was going on’, she said, ‘He absolutely floored them, he knew all, they didn’t have to tell him, he knew it all’. It had all come back, I was amazed, he’d had his stroke, but it wasn’t severe.
GT: Ok, but in World War Two though, when you were at Mepal air base, did you go into any of the pubs in Sutton or- And Ely or anything like that?
ID: Yeah.
GT: Yeah, which ones?
ID: Oh.
GT: All of them?
ID: The Green Man, was one, a little, a really little old pub, I don’t know, very, very old, very old.
GT: Chequers? The pub, Chequers? Or, The Green Pickerel? The Three Pickerels? No, ok- Well, now when Mauri finished his tour in December ‘44, what happened to Mauri after that? Did he fly anymore?
ID: No, he only did the four years and then he was put- Sent back home. Well, or course they sent him on a boat, and he I think went on the Rangitiki, and I went on the- The one I went on, was a patient carrier with like a sick hospital and if you have children, they had a special room for the children, and they get looked after for the night.
GT: So, did you have children by then?
ID: Yeah, I had Marcia.
GT: Marcia, oh, when was she born?
ID: She was born in 1940…- Halfway between 1945 and ‘46.
GT: And then when did you sail to New Zealand? When did you follow? 1946?
ID: I can’t- Yeah. As I say, we only took the normal- That they were supposed to do, and then we went back but, there was no planes flying there at the time it was all boats, and I know he was on one boat and I was on the next one, every stop- When we got to Suez Canal thing, he was on one side of the canal and I was on the other, and he rang me from there, yeah, and we spoke, yeah, I don’t know whose phone, whether it was their phone, his phone or any, I've no idea, but I was quite surprised but yes- Took six weeks to get there, six weeks [emphasis]. Mind, I enjoyed it. It was lovely, I got to know one of the chaps on the- That used to serve the meals, and I just used to say, ‘That was a nice pudding, can I have another?’, ‘I’ll see what I can do’, and he used to get me another pudding [chuckles].
GT: So, when you arrived then to New Zealand, what air- What seaport did you go into?
ID: Wellington. That’s when we came up on the train and I said to him, asked him each stop, Paekākāriki, ‘Don’t be silly Mauri, what is it called?’, ‘Paekākāriki’.
GT: And it’s still Paekākāriki. Oh right, so, Mauri was living in Auckland by then?
ID: Oh yes, his mother, she was English, she had gone there with her father when she was young from Essex in London. He had an antique shop and he opened one in- When he got to Auckland, he opened it in the next, what do they call- Oh god, New something it’s called, now I forget, and he opened it there and then he came- He went to live with his- Mauri’s mother had a sister, and he went to live with her, but he was a wonderful old man, him and I got on like a house on fire, he- I used to sit and talk to him and he used to say to me, ‘Nobody ever does that, nobody sits and talks to me’. He used to ask me about London, the tubes and things like that and he said to me one day, ‘The Elephant and Castle and another station, and then another one, but something happened to that middle one, what was it?’, I said, ‘It was bombed on the entrance and it flooded and eight-hundred people were trapped and killed, eight hundred people’. So, I loved talking to him because you could talk about England. But oh boy, I don’t think I enjoyed my days in England like I did in New Zealand, I loved Auckland. Absolutely, and never got to see the South Island, I never got there.
GT: So, how long did you stay in New Zealand then, before you came back to England?
ID: Nineteen years.
GT: You were nineteen years in New Zealand?
ID: I mean, the girl in the hospital just recently said to me, ‘Where do you come from? What’s your accent?’, I said, ‘I haven’t got an accent’, she said, ‘You have’, I said, ‘Well what do you make it?’, she said, ‘Australian?’ I said, ‘Oh gosh, no’, she said, ‘Then it’s got to be New Zealand’, I said, ‘Right, you’re right there’. Absolutely loved that country, I do. But my friend, Jan, the one I told you that married the chap with the timber mill, she died three month ago, ninety-six, the same- A year- No, a year younger than me and I was friends with her for nearly seventy years and we- Mind it was me, we never had a cross word. Well, it wasn’t me that was- It was her she wouldn’t argue with you. She came over, for my eightieth birthday as a big surprise. Absolutely wonderful, I was devastated when she died. But actually, she hadn’t been too bad and then suddenly her son sent a text message to Andrea and said that she’d deteriorated in the last three weeks.
GT: So, if we just go back to Mauri for a moment. Now, Mauri had a serious stroke in July 1997?
ID: Yeah.
GT: And he died a little bit later, yeah?
ID: He had another one, I mean he said to me- He’d had the stroke, for about two or three weeks and he said to me, ‘You know, I could have another one,’ I said, ‘Don’t say that, you’re wishing that on yourself’, he said, ‘Well, it could happen’, and it did. He was- When he was up in bed, couldn’t move. So I immediately got the doctor and they left the surgery immediately, they’ve only got to come down the road, and they looked at him and they said, ‘Yes, he’s had another stroke’, and- Before they came, he turned- He tried to turn over, fell out of bed on the floor, and I had to ring my son in law and say, ‘Please come and help, I can’t get him up’, he was a dead weight, and they came- I can’t tell you, a hundred miles along the high road to get here, but we got him up anyway and took him to- He was supposed to go to Queens but they took him to the city and he didn’t like the city, if only he knew today that that’s the better place than Queen. But he kept saying, ‘If you take me back to Queens, I’ll be ok’. But they put some tubes up his nose to his stomach to feed him, and he kept pulling them out [emphasis] and then they’d have to go down to the- Take him down to operating room, put them in again, he’d pull them out.
GT: Did Mauri ever talk about his time on 75 Squadron to you, after the war?
ID: Oh yes, yes. Probably- Not anything important, but he loved being a New Zealander, he really did.
GT: Did he like being a pilot?
ID: Yes, but honestly, my granddaughter has gone into everything that he’s done, she’s right up to date with them, but she did say that when he was tested. He did a course over in Ireland for weather. I mean, I don’t know why he did that, but he did that course, and on the thing upstairs, the picture with his medals, he’s only got five, and none of them are really important, they’re just medals that anybody would get, but he’s got this little thing at the bottom saying he did this course for meteorology. I don’t know why he did it, I have no idea.
GT: But his time with 75 Squadron, and for that matter, bomber command, he did his job with purpose and also because he was fighting for King and country, yeah?
ID: Yeah.
GT: Yep, and he didn’t have any regrets as to what he did?
ID: No, never, no.
GT: That’s good.
ID: He loved doing it, but as I say, when he was tested once, his landing. The chap said, ‘He needs a lot of review on the landing’ [chuckles].
GT: I’m sure he refined that later, yeah, well that’s fascinating. Alright, so then, if we go back to when your time in New Zealand then, when did you come back to England, to live?
ID: Well, the first time I came back after eighteen months I’d been there, I was homesick, but I’d no sooner got- And I was six weeks on the boat, and no sooner got back and thought, ‘I’ve done the wrong thing, I know I've done the wrong thing’. I couldn’t wait to get back, I couldn’t, but, as I say, I don’t know, I can’t remember if that’s when Mauri got discharged or what? But-
GT: Was this, was this feeling you had about homesick, was that the same for all the other wives, all the other ladies that followed New Zealanders back home?
ID: I- It probably was, but I never knew them after we arrived in New Zealand. I never had anything. I did- I kept in touch- Well he kept in touch with me, the chap that looked after Marcia in the- Where they were looking after the babies, he took to Marcia. I mean, one day the father was out of his house, and he had a little veranda, and he was on this veranda, he saw this car going up and down and it stopped in front of him, and he said, ‘Can I help you?’, he said, ‘I’m looking for the Dare’s’, he said, ‘Oh, it’s here, who do you want?’. He wanted me, and when I went out to him he had presents for me and for Marcia and he wanted me to divorce Mauri and marry him. I said to him, ‘You must be joking’. I mean, he was a nice enough guy but, I mean, he never on the ship, he never spent the money that he had for wages, because he kept- I don’t know why he kept them but, he said his father owned four warehouses, so I don’t know if he had money or not. I mean, I liked him as a friend, what he did for Marcia, but no way I wanted to marry him.
GT: So, did Mauri follow you to England, did he?
ID: Who?
GT: Mauri?
ID: Yeah.
GT: He followed you to England?
ID: Yeah.
GT: And how many years did you stay here in England then?
ID: Years.
GT: Oh, oh, from the time that Mauri left New Zealand you didn’t go back? Twenty years?
ID: I can’t- Oh gosh no, no, it was much less than that, much, much less. He said, ‘You know, if you want to stay here, I’m willing to do so’, and I thought, ‘Well, my mother and father died very young’, I said ‘Well, I've got relatives but they’re not that important, no, we’ll go where you want to go’. That’s when we went home and stayed with his mother for three month. Until Charlie got the offer of two flats and after he picked one, his mother said, ‘Why don’t you let Maurice have the other one?’. So that’s when, we went that night with Mauri’s father to this address we had, Mauri went down to the door, the father and I stood back, and he knocked on the door, all I heard was, ‘Mauri?’ and another voice, this chap from- That had the saw mill thing, he’d been with Mauri in 75 Squadron, so of course we got the flat. It was a big house, and he’d broken it up into three flats. So, we got the front one, and that’s when we became friends with Jim, and he, I mean his wife Jan from Scotland was having the first baby, and he said to me, ‘Can you, if I ring you at about three, I'll come and see you at three o’clock in the morning, will you come with me to the hospital?’, I said, ‘Yes of course I will’, and he did, it was three o’clock in the morning, he knocked on the bedroom window, ‘Iris’.
GT: Who was Jim?
ID: Jim?
GT: Jim wo?
ID: Taylor. The one that I told you, that Mauri had been with in the 75 Squadron. Jim Taylor.
GT: 75 Squadron?
ID: Yeah, and he’s dead now, he died, gosh, Jan- She told me not so long ago, a few years since he died. But he, was a clever man, he won the DFC.
GT: He was awarded it?
ID: He had-
GT: He was awarded the DFC?
ID: Yes.
GT: Yeah.
ID: He did something, but it was a- Like a navy and white stripe little badge and he won that. It was something for bravery, I don’t know what it was, I have no idea.
GT: Fascinating...
[The interview has been edited here as the interviewee spoke about personal, post war matters.]
GT: Well, the reason Iris that I'm in your home now interviewing you is because someone in your family saw my name on the internet and told Andrea, and Andrea contacted me only a matter of weeks ago, and whilst I'm travelling in England now, this is the reason I've come to visit you in your place, and-
ID: Well, Andrea told Marcia all about it and Marci said, ‘Don’t do it’, she said, ‘Could be a hoax’, I said, ‘Oh for goodness sake Marcia’.
GT: [Chuckles] I’m no hoax. However, it’s been lovely chatting with you about your husband Mauri who was on 75 New Zealand Squadron RAF, and he was part of Bomber Command, he joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force and also became part of the Royal Air Force in 1944. He completed a full tour of ops on 75 NZ Squadron, from Mepal and he obviously fought for King and countries [emphasis] ‘cause it was England and New Zealand he was fighting for.
ID: Absolutely, absolutely, but I didn’t know till you told me that he’d been to Canada.
GT: All training from the Australian and New Zealanders and Canadians and British later, but was done in the Canadian training scheme and various stations right across Canada. So the tens of thousands of airmen that moved across the pacific, they were trained in Canada and then they were shipped across to England to carry on their training before they joined operational squadrons, and some of those chaps may have trained for nearly two years, before they got to England. So, it was great dedication. All volunteers.
ID: Well, I do remember him mentioning- Well, I thought he said was Banff, and I got the idea that that was in Canada. It is? Oh [chuckles].
GT: There you go.
ID: But he didn’t talk much about it. Didn’t tell me much about that at all. I think he enjoyed being here, he liked England. I said, ‘No, we’re not stopping here, we’re going to New Zealand’. I was dead keen to go to New Zealand, but I didn’t think when he took me down to the boat, do you know? He went for free, but he had to pay for me and Marcia, and I can remember, it was a hundred and something pound, to pay for us to go there. I can remember him paying it when we got down there to the boat. Went from Southampton.
GT: There were many ships that went back to New Zealand with servicemen and wives from England-
ID: Oh yes, I know there was a lot went. I don’t know- Mind, a lot came back too. Glad to get rid of them. No, I was a very- After my first eighteen months, and I was homesick, was so stupid, and I went back and I thought, ‘Well I’ll never do that again’, and I didn’t, and I loved living in Auckland, absolutely. I was so happy there, really was. I mean, what’s? Oh no you wouldn’t know, this chap here, what’s his name? He’s a- He’s in the midlands, he’s dead now but- He died just recently. He used to have a- Funny comedian, funny stick, and I mean, when I first got to New Zealand, I got this job in credit control and where I lived the houses were there, and then there was the road and then more houses, and another one behind that, and that one the bus used to go round there and come down our road. This lady, was on the bus- Oh quite a few days, and I got to sit next to her one day and I got talking, and she said, ‘I’ve just had a CD from my cousin in England’, and I said, ‘Oh what does he do?’, and she said, ‘Well, he’s a comedian but he’s not very well known’. So, I said, ‘Well what’s his name?’, and she mentioned it and I said, ‘Never heard of him’. Well, it was only after that I realised when I came back, who he was, and he was very well known. I mean, I didn’t realise that was her cousin. Amazing how you meet people. But I met a lot of people from New Zealand when I came back here, that had come back and I used to say, ‘Why did you come back [emphasis]?’ I would’ve never (apart from my first eighteen months), I would never have wanted to come back. As I’ve said to Andrea many times, ‘I wish I had never left’. Honestly, it was only through- We used to go to bowls, and he met this couple from South Africa, they were there and her father became very ill and they were called back to South Africa, and they must’ve said to Mauri, ‘Why don’t you come to South Africa?’. He came home one Saturday, he said, ‘Do you want to go to South Africa?’, I said, ‘What for?’, he just- Our house that we had, when we bought it, was ordinary, ordinary windows. He took them all out, he put ranch sliders in, he’d built the kids bedroom furniture, and I mean, he used to say, ‘I’m not a good carpenter’, I’d say, ‘You’ll do me, absolutely, very good’, I thought. But, Jim Taylor, the one that he was with in the 75th Squadron, as I say, they owned this timber company and Mauri ordered some wood from him once, and they were delivered, put on our front lawn. But you think we could get Jim to give us a bill? And Mauri said, ‘I can’t ask him for any more wood, if he won’t take the money’. He was a lovely man Jim. He idolised Marcia, ‘cause when she was three-month-old, he used to take her about nine o’clock at night, when it was dark, outside and he’d say, ‘What’s that Marcia?’, she’d say, ‘Tar’ and then he’d say something else that didn’t refer to the star, ‘What’s that Marcia?’, ‘Tar’ [chuckles]. He loved it.
GT: So, what did Mauri do as a job once he came back to England?
ID: He became- He went to a warehouse and he’d been there before the war, think he’d been there from leaving school, and he got on very well with- In the linen department there was a man that was manager of the linen department, and Mauri became manager of the linen department.
GT: And where was that?
ID: In Auckland.
GT: And once you guys came back to England, what did Mauri do then?
ID: I think he stayed there until we came back here, and then he got a job with Paton and Baldwin Wools and he worked for them for quite a while, and then my eldest daughter was married to a chap who was a managing director of a big curtain company, and he got Mauri a job with them. But, I mean, Mauri found out that this son-in-law wasn’t very nice and he didn’t want to make any arguments about it, but this son-in-law had said to somebody, ‘He got the job because I got him the job’, and Mauri said, ‘I was told’- He told me, ‘I said to him did you help get me the job the job? He said, no you got it on your own merit’. But he lied. Mauri was very upset.
GT: So, when did Mauri retire?
ID: What?
GT: Did he- When did Mauri retire?
ID: I think it was- It’s changed now, it was sixty, sixty, that’s when he retired.
GT: Retired at age sixty. Brilliant. Well, Iris, you’ve had a rather a bad couple of months there with tripping over and falling out of your car and injuring yourself badly, and now breaking your wrist et cetera, so I’m very honoured that you’re able to sit here and tell me about your lovely husband and his career and your life, and, I think it’s time now for me to finish our interview and the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln will be very pleased to hear of your time and your recollections from that era, which obviously you were a great part of, and also marrying into Bomber Command people.
ID: Well, I’ve loved every minute, I really have, I’ve enjoyed it, and it was so [emphasis] nice to meet you.
GT: Well, thank you very much Iris, and it’s lovely to meet somebody from the 75 Squadron people and I'm very grateful for, for your daughter allowing me to come and have a chat with you, and from your injuries I hope you mend well, ninety-six, that’s a tough road.
ID: Well, I'm glad you met Andrea.
GT: Yep, thank you very much.
ID: She’s a lovely person.
GT: Yep, that’s good and she looks after you very well I can tell
ID: But, she’s so like her dad, she really is.
GT: Yeah.
ID: She perspires like him.
GT: [Chuckles]
ID: When he used to do the garden, she’d have to put a band round- It used to stream down [chuckles].
GT: But obviously he was a great flyer and he committed himself to King and country and that’s, that’s a huge attribute.
ID: Yes, I think he was pretty good, apart from the landing.
GT: Oh, I think he got better.
ID: This chap said, ‘Leaves a lot to be desired’ [chuckles].
GT: But he completed a full tour of ops.
ID: Do you know what? When we got back to New Zealand and he’d finished with the RAF, there was an ad in the paper that Qantas were looking for pilots, the same day the RAF were asking for pilots to come to England and he thought, ‘Oh, dear what should I do?’. So, he applied for both, and he got both [chuckles] and then when he said, ‘Which do you want me to take?’, of course I said, ‘England’ stupidly, and that’s when we came back. But then once we got back permanently, I said, ‘I don’t want to go back there, I really don’t, I’m quite happy here’. But I mean he said, you know, I mean, he didn’t have much to do with his mother and father, although his father was a very nice man, the mother didn’t like her at all. She just took a dislike to me, I don’t know- I never did anything to her. When I got to Wellington, she was there to meet us, she took Marcia out of my arms and walked away. Never said hello, the father turned round and he called her, ‘Mum, aren’t you gonna say hello to Iris?’, ‘Oh, hello’. All she wanted was Marcia because she’d only had two sons, she wanted a daughter.
GT: Well, it’s amazing that you guys came back to England because many, many British brides stayed in New Zealand for the rest of their lives, and you must be one of the few that came back this way. But look, Iris it’s lovely to have chatted with you, thank you very much for allowing me to talk with you
ID: You’re more than welcome.
GT: And, and I wish you well with getting better and so, thank you and we’ll sign off our interview now yes?
ID: Thank you very much.
GT: Thank you, Iris, bye-bye.



Glen Turner, “Interview with Iris Dare,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 20, 2024,

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