Robin and Celia Wait

Major Robin S Wait   ED

Robin Wait's military career started in 1936 with the Rongotai College cadets at Fort Dorset, Wellington, and continued until his retirement from the Regular Force in 1969. His association with artillery began at birth, the son of a 1NZEF gunner, and endures to this day with his life membership of the Old Comrades' Association and membership of the Canterbury Artillery Officers' Mess.

In 1939, Robin trained with 6 inch guns at Fort Dorset and the following year joined 6 Field Regiment at Ngaruawahia and Papakura under Steve Weir before travelling to Greece and North Africa as a gun sergeant. In 1943 he was commissioned as a Lieutenant (MEOCTU and RAOCTU) and was fortunate to be one of the five unmarried officers to be selected for furlough in NZ. The three months leave became six months when shipping was unavailable for the move to Italy.   In 1944, as Gun Position Officer with 5 NZ Field Regiment, Robin served with each Battery to allow further officers to have NZ leave. The following year, with the end of the war, he became part of Tongariro replacement draft and joined the Reserve of Officers.

As a Territorial Force Captain in 1948, he was posted to 2 Field Regiment in Palmerston North. In 1953 he was awarded the ED and joined the Regular Force as a Staff Sergeant with 11 Coast Regiment and was the last Adjutant at Godley Head. The following year he was posted to HQ Burnham Camp where he held a number of positions including Barrackmaster and Camp Quartermaster and was promoted to Captain. In 1968 his new posting took him to Headquarters Southern Military District as Staff Capt Q, ATLO, SMD Recruiting Ofiicer and Camp Comdt SMD as a Major. On his 50th birthday Major Wait was farewelled from the Army by the NZ Army Band (with which he had a close liaison) at King Edward Barracks, Christchurch.

As ATLO, Robin arranged free air travel by RNZAF for soldiers and their families around NZ. He recalls that NAC contacted him at least once to say the RNZAF was pinching their passengers. Robin had arranged for the Army Band to play at small towns up and down the country, travelling by RNZAF aircraft, and was to meet the band again in 1970 when he spent a fortnight in Singapore. He travelled by RNZAF Hercules which had to drop fuel at sea and return to Whenuapai, arriving after the plane ran out of flying time. A similar event had occurred in 1954 when he had travelled by RNZAF Hastings to the El Alamein Memorial Unveiling with Kippenberger.

After retiring from the Army, Robin adopted a new career as Administration Officer with the Paparua County Council. He and his wife, ret'd RNZAF Sergeant Celia Wait (née Fisher), are now actively involved in travelling the world (without aircraft malfunction) and enjoying the company of gunners, the Hornby Probus Club, the Canterbury ex-WAAF Association and the Canterbury Italy Star Association. Robin sat in the back seat of a Harvard for a loop-the-loop near Wigram. He looked over the side to see where he was. But the country side was above him, not down. Years later, Celia and Robin arrived at Tekapo airfield just as a small aircraft was getting ready to fly somewhere. The trip took them and a couple of Asian tourists, who were afraid to look out the windows, to the top of Mt Cook, when they flew right around the summit. One of the last air rides they have made and when they returned to Lake Tekapo an hour after take-off, they found that aircraft had an interesting lettering on its body, ZK-SEX!

June 2001