Kiwi flying ace credited with eight kills dies in England

By Mathew Dearnaley

Flight Lieutenant Peter Francis Locker Hall. Photo / Supplied
Flight Lieutenant Peter Francis Locker Hall. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand has lost one of its World War II flying aces, Flight Lieutenant Peter Francis Locker Hall, who has died in England aged 88.

The former teacher was credited with shooting down eight German aircraft while based in Britain as a pilot with the Royal New Zealand Air Force's 488 squadron of Mosquito fighter planes.

After returning from a mission over Europe on one engine in an aircraft damaged by flying debris, Flight Lieutenant Hall (left) and his British navigator were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. A bar was later added in his case.

Born in Opotiki, Mr Hall caught the flying bug as a boy, when his clergyman father shelled out 10 shillings ($1) for him to go on a flight in 1928 with pioneering Australian aviator Charles Kingsford Smith.

"When Kingsford Smith came over to Gisborne, they landed on the beach and I think he paid 10 shillings for a joy flight so he was hooked on flying, and that's how he got into the Air Force," his nephew, Richard Hall, said from Brisbane last night.

Flight Lieutenant Hall remained in Britain after the war with his English wife Mary and became an aircraft salesman for the de Havilland company, which sent him back to NZ on regular business trips.

He joined the inaugural flight to New Zealand of the ill-fated Comet in the early 1950s and arranged the sale of Hawker Siddeley aircraft to Mount Cook Airlines founder Sir Harry Wigley, whom he got to know well.

In 1972, Mr Hall left de Havilland to set up an award-winning woodcraft and furniture restoration business in England's Lakes District and, according to his nephew, was once commissioned to make a bowl for Diana, Princess of Wales.

Richard Hall said his uncle did not talk much about the war on his trips back to New Zealand, evidently having qualms about the loss of life caused by his service.

His wife died last year. The couple are survived by three children and many grandchildren.

- NZ Herald

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