Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow
Christchurch, February 21, 2003
Christchurch is very different from Kaikoura – much more refined and cosmopolitan. Ken Neill was a former pilot with 225 Squadron. I was given his name and details by Bryan Colston, with whom Ken flew in North Africa. Although Ken went back to his native New Zealand after the war, the two have kept in touch and remained friends ever since. Ken had a very clear memory and told me in great detail about growing up on a large farm on the South Island, about learning to fly, going overseas and joining 225 Squadron; about flying over Tunisia and then Italy. He was shot down during the Gothic Line battles in 1944, but with the help of Italian Partisans, managed to get back across enemy lines to safety. It was a great story and I could see myself writing it up when I eventually get to writing this book. That seems a long, long, way off at this stage, though
You’re writing about my adopted home town when you talk about Christchurch…it’s where I got married, where my daughter was born, where I had my first home, where I represented the United States at the State Funeral of Jack Hinton, New Zealand’s last holder of the Victoria Cross.
And yes, it’s more refined and cosmoplitan than Kaikoura…but just as friendly.