On Monday 3rd July we say goodbye to the larger than life man who I had the honour of calling Grandad. He, alongside with Grandma, have grown the most incredible family who I am so proud of. He taught us how to love unconditionally, to help others, how to be patient, and to see the wonder and adventure in everything.
David Allen Anderson came from Takapuna in Auckland. His family were well known in the area as they were the milkmen. He was a keen sailor and had a boat which he owned with his best friend and future brother-in-law, George. He was fit, strong and handsome.
At 18 years old he joined the air force. Too tall to be a pilot, he trained as a navigator in Lancaster bombers in New Zealand, Canada and the UK. I don’t know too much about this part of his life, he kept quite quiet about it until recent years. A story that we laugh about now though was that he had all his teeth removed for some reason, and his false teeth took a few months to catch up with him as he was moved around between bases. Poor man couldn’t even have a steak!
After the war he returned to New Zealand, married Mary Phillips, and grew an amazing family. The stories mum shared of her family camping holidays and road trips sound lovely, where the kids would say left or right to ‘decide’ where they would end up going. The songs they would sing in the car such as It’s a long way to Tipperary, which Mum in turn taught us on our car trips.
I grew up in a different country to my grandparents, this made time with them even more treasured. It would be for weeks at a time, and they stayed with us or we stayed with them. Grandad had made our billy cart when we were little, which has had a few modifications and wheel replacements over the years but still goes well. When they came to Australia, Grandad and my brother always had a project and they would build something together, this was always fun to watch. We would take them everywhere, do everything with them, every moment was special.
One time that I went to see them in New Zealand as a child has always stood out in my mind. I was in Year 5, probably about 10 years old. At the time Grandad was helping to restore a Lancaster for a museum in Auckland called MOTAT. He took mum and I there to see it, and I vividly remember going through the plane with him, climbing into different sections, him telling me about each job, how the rear gunner stayed warm. I sat where he sat, he showed me how he looked at the stars to work out where they were. I remember it so well that a few months ago I was at the Imperial War Museum in London and saw a section of a cockpit and said that it was a Lancaster before even seeing the sign. That same trip Grandad took me with him when he went to visit some elderly members of his parish. Seeing the love, care, compassion and time he had for these people has always stuck with me, it made me realise how important your community is.