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Lorna Hazel Smith

Lorna in her WWII WAAF uniform

Lorna Hazel Smith 1942 Women Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF)

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  • Title
  • Forenames
    Lorna Hazel AWMM
  • Surname
    Smith AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    Gayton AWMM
  • Service number
    WWII W2921 AWMM
  • Gender
    • Female AWMM
    • FEMALE Public - Gina - Other relative - 3 July 2016 - Lorna was female
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    4 September 1922 Public source New PlymouthTaranaki Public source
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards

Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment

Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • Lorna was the daughter of New Plymouth Liberal party MP Sydney George Smith and Catherine nee Bint. Lorna was the grand daughter of New Plymouth Liberal party MP Edward Metcalf Smith and the great grand daughter of Sergeant Nicholas Golding of the 65th British Regiment who served during the Taranaki Maori wars (Source:Public Source)

      Wife of Douglas Arthur Gayton (s/n 32865) (Source:Public Source)

      Their children were Judy Ranford (New Plymouth), Phillipa McGregor (New Plymouth), and Russell Gaynor (Auckland) (Source:Public Source) AWMM
    • In 2002, Lorna's lifestory was published in a book of women's war stories called 'Doing Our Bit - New Zealand Women tell their stories of World War Two by Jim Sullivan [this book avail in NZ libraries]. Sections from Interview by Virginia Winder with Lorna then aged 81. Lorna (then Smith) became a WAAF in 1940, at the age of 17. She was drawn to the air force because of her father's flying contacts, her father was Sydney George Smith, Minister of Education in the mid-1930s and he was a friend of famous aviator Charles Kingsford Smith. Interestingly, New Zealand's darling of the airways Jean Gardner Batten was age 18 when she first became inspired to be a pilot after Charles Kingsford Smith took her for a flight in his Southern Cross plane. When World War II broke out, Lorna heard that a women's air force was to be formed, so she wrote away for information. "In due course I was called up." Her first posting was to pay accounts in Bell Block, where there was a training school for Tiger Moths. Being a woman, Lorna could not become a pilot. However, she did get to fly. "The boys out there said one day 'Would you like to go for a flight?' and I said 'Yes, I would'." Sitting in an easy chair in her New Plymouth home, Lorna laughs: "They scared the daylights out of me. We looped the loop and flew upside down. I had never been so scared in my life. I don't think I had a spine at all - I think it had completely left my body."
      Lorna tells of one homecoming when she expected to surprise her family. "I remember turning the key in the front door and my mother saying 'Is that you Lorna? I thought you would be home today.' "It was actually the same when she got the telegram to say my brother had been killed." The neighbour came over to deliver it, but Lorna's mum didn't need the message - she already knew. "She said 'It's Ray, isn't it?'" Major Ray Smith was in charge of B Company in the 26th Battalion, which took part in the Battle of Sangro in Italy. "He was killed on Christmas Eve Day, 1943," Lorna says. "He was shot through the back of the head by a sniper. I understand it was at a little place called Castel Frantano." Lorna says that her brother's batman (attendant) rescued his body from no-man's land. "He was given a proper burial in Italy, but when the (New Zealand) War Graves Commission collected bodies from here, there and everywhere, his grave could not be found. So his name has been added to the names at Cassino." In May 2004, Kiwi war veterans attended a special commemorative service marking the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Cassino. "As an aside - he was the highest ranked officer that was killed in action from New Plymouth Boys' High School," Lorna says. Three other siblings were in the armed forces during World War II. Lorna's eldest brother, Captain Ned Smith was in the second echelon of the New Zealand Army in England and was taken a prisoner of war (POW) in Greece. He spent his time in an Oflag near Munich. An Oflag is what Germans call a POW camp for officers, while a Stalag is a camp for non-commissioned troops. Youngest brother, flight Lieutenant Harry Smith, piloted bombers in Africa and later flew with the Chindits dropping supplies over the Burma line. A Chindit was the name given to a member of the Allied forces behind the Japanese lines in Burma from 1943-45. Lorna's elder sister, Ethel, was also in uniform. "She was a WAAF, but she did not go overseas and spent most of her service in Levin and New Plymouth."
      Lorna's married Douglas Arthur Gayton in 1945, Douglas had also served and had been a Prisoner of War. From 1963 to 1984, the Gaytons lived at and ran the Kawaroa Swimming Pools, now known as the New Plymouth Aquatic Centre. "Between us we were involved in and gave over 100 years to swimming." While Lorna was in charge of administration, Doug was always on the edge of the pool. Over those years, he taught thousands of children to swim and trained hundreds of others. Public - Gina - Other relative - 3 July 2016 - Family papers and also Lorna's life story published in a book of women's war stories called 'Doing Our Bit by Jim Sullivan [this book avail in NZ libraries]. Sections from Interview by Virginia Winder with Lorna then aged 81.
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About death

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  • Death
    22 January 2007 Public source
    New PlymouthTaranaki Public source
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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  • External links
  • References
    Information kindly provided by family AWMM


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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
03 July 2016GinaAucklandOther relative

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