Uniform collection belonged to unknown Air Force man

By Sam Boyer


There are three full military uniforms. There's a pilot's helmet, suspenders, a pistol holster and a drink bottle.

But no one seems to know where they came from, who they belonged to, or who donated them.

Call it the Mystery of Airman P. Harrison.

Tauranga cultural heritage co-ordinator Fiona Kean said she only knew that the immaculate haul of military regalia dated back to the 1950s. Beyond that, she said, nothing else was known about the suits and accessories.

"All we know is it belonged to this person, P. Harrison. It's an entire set," she said.

The set includes a kit bag with the Air Force officer's name written on it and, presumably, his service number - 81657.

His flight jacket, the most worn of the three jackets, has single rank stripes on the epaulet.

The other two jackets feature double stripes.

The belongings were re-discovered in a suitcase at the Heritage Collection storage facility in Mount Maunganui about four years ago. In 1998 when the collection was moved from the Historic Village, it had been packed away and forgotten.

Ms Kean hoped now it had been found again, someone could shed more light on the military memorabilia.

"It would be fantastic to have him [P. Harrison] or his family members come forward ... to give it life. At the moment it's great ... but without [knowing] who the person was, it lacks something," she said.

The Tauranga Heritage Collection features about 100 military uniforms, ranging from the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s to the Boer War, WWI, WWII, and the Korean War, through to the Vietnam War.

The collection includes more than 30,000 objects of Western Bay history.

"It's a storehouse of a community's memories and values. [The collection] is an educational tool - hopefully in the future something will happen and people will be able to see it. In a perfect world it goes on show for people to connect with and remember," Ms Kean said.

Anzac Services

Mount Maunganui: Assemble at Mt Drury Reserve. 5.45am. March off 5.55am. Dawn Service at the Cenotaph 6am. Memorial Service at the Cenotaph 9.30am. (Mount RSA Clubrooms if wet)

Tauranga: Assemble on Hayes Avenue. 5.45am. March off 5.55am. Dawn Service at the new RSA Cenotaph 6am. (Location: 1237 Cameron Rd). Memorial Service at Memorial Park 9am. (Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre if wet). Remembrance Service for all returned men who have fallen at 10.30am at Pyes Pa Cemetery.

Te Puke: Assemble opposite the Post Office 10.10am. March off 10.20am. Memorial Service at the Te Puke Memorial Hall 10.30am.

Maketu: Assemble at Whakaue Marae. Dawn Service at 6am. Breakfast for all will be provided afterwards.

Katikati: Dawn Service at the Club Rooms 6am. Memorial Service at the War Memorial Hall 11am.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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