I am sure that old friends and acquaintances of Ted Willbond will be pleased to know that he was farewelled with due honour and ceremony on the 25th September 1999, in Napier.
A gathering of family, friends and serving military personnel heard his brother-in-law the Rev Niven Ball recount highlights of Ted's childhood and youth in Wellington and Murapara. The quick wit and sense of humour for which he was renowned were clearly in evidence at a young age. CMT, or Compulsory Military Training, for those too young to remember, was universal for all 18 year olds. It proved to be the turning point in Ted's life. He returned from camp, quit his job and enlisted in the Regular Army in 1956.
As a Gunner in the mid and late 50's, he was one of the last to get the opportunity to see Coastal and AA Guns in operation in NZ. He saw active service in SVN in 1965.
Ted is best remembered for his skills and talents as an administrator. His knowledge and understanding of the CML, R&SO's, PONS and the myriad of instructions pushed out by the various Commands, saved many a young soldier from the wrath of the authorities and solved many pay, promotion, housing and welfare issues for a wide range of personnel of all ranks. The award of the BEM recognised this service to all ranks of the Army during the 33 years of his service. On retirement from the Army Ted settled in Palmerston North, where he had established a network of friends and contacts through the Lions Club and the Samaritans Organisation. (Still helping others!)
Then in 1992 he sold up in Palmerston and took to the road in a Camper Van. Took three years to see the North Island. Then with intentions of doing the South Island he happened on an idyllic spot at Marahau, west of Motueka on Tasman Bay. He went no further! 'Old MacDonalds Farm', an old style family camping ground became home, until September 1999 when failing health forced him to move to Hastings to be near family. His son, Gavin, took him to the house Ted's father built in Napier where he lived his last couple of weeks with his sister.
Representatives of 16 Field Regiment saluted Ted's service with the Royal Regiment and extended condolences to the family on behalf of all Gunners. Troops from 16 Field provided the ceremonial parties.
On a lighter note it was great to catch up with Doug Stanton and other ex-VETS of the Taradale RSA. The Club and members were certainly responsive to the needs of the family and visitors from out of town (notably Evan Torrance, Jamie Thompson, amongst others). I am sure that Ted would have taken pleasure in the gathering, the stories and the comradeship.
Tom Roche with additional information from Ted's son, Gavin.
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