A stalwart of the Mount Maunganui RSA and survivor of 30 bombing missions over Nazi occupied Europe in World War II has died aged 96.

Jack Meehan served in Bomber Command's 75th (New Zealand) Squadron as a wireless operator and air gunner, flying in Wellingtons, Stirlings and Lancasters from 1943-45.

He and the rest of the crew overcome the odds in which one in three of those who served with Bomber Command never came home.

Mr Meehan survived 30 operational sorties over North West Europe, with the French Government recognising his contribution to the liberation of Europe by making him a Knight of France's highest national honour, the National Order of the Legion of Honour.


He received the award in 2015.

Mr Meehan's son Peter said his father was primarily a wireless operator who climbed into the gun position in the middle of the Lancaster bomber when they were attacked by German fighters.

Jack Meehan was born in Christchurch in 1920 and educated in Wellington before joining New Zealand Railways as a cadet in 1935.

The outbreak of war in 1939 saw him enlist in the Army's Territorial Force and do a stint on the searchlight and anti-aircraft battery on top of the Wellington Railway Station.

He enlisted with the Royal New Zealand Air Force on his 21st birthday, training in Rotorua and Whenuapai before completing his training in Canada in 1943.

After the war, he briefly returned to his old job with the Railways before becoming a grocer in his wife Gladys' family business in Auckland's Newmarket.

He then bought a large grocery shop in Port Chevalier, selling it in 1962 when supermarkets arrived.

He worked for the engineering and construction firm Electrix for 20 years until he retired to nurse his wife, who died of cancer in 1983.


Mr Meehan shifted to Whangamata in 1987 before moving to Mount Maunganui in 1993.

Peter said his father was a very good bowler, representing Auckland and the Bay of Plenty, together with a deep involvement with the administrations of the four clubs that he played for.

His other community passion was the RSA.

He was made a Life Member of the Mount club in 2006 and was awarded the Merit Certificate and Badge from the RSA's national president last September.

"The RSA was his second home."

He regularly recited The Ode at the Mount RSA on Friday nights, was on the executive until the year before he died and was a resident of one of the RSA's apartments before moving to Malyon House three years ago.

His deep interest in the Air Force and RSA saw him selected to take part in trips to Europe for the 60th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day in 2005 and the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial in 2012.

Peter Meehan put his father's long life down to remaining very active.

"He had a zest for life."

He died in Malyon House on December 27 and is survived by Peter, daughter Judi and four grandchildren.

His funeral service will be held today at Jones & Co's Mount Harbour Chapel at 12.30pm.

Navy and Air Force cadets will form a guard of honour, with a flypast by WWII Harvards.