George Samuel Beca born in Putaruru

On 30 April 1921, George Beca was born in Putaruru in New Zealand’s North Island. His father Selim and mother Afefe were Assyrian migrants from Mount Lebanon, Syria. Their surname, Abikhair, was misspelled by New Zealand immigration as Beca.


By 1945 he had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for ‘outstanding service’ and displaying ‘courage and tenacity of the highest order’, an award issued for flying Dakotas behind-the-lines to supply General Slim’s ‘forgotten’ 14th Army and General Orde Wingate’s Chindit guerrilla fighters in Burma.


Post war he wanted to become a test pilot, a dream that required an engineering degree. Soon thoughts of flying were forgotten and the business of engineering became his future.