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New Zealand Permanent Force Old Comrades' Association

Newsletter No. 100 December 1998


Routine Orders

Season's Greetings

Our President and Executive send all members their best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Last Post

Mrs Molly Cumming 22 June 98 at Wellington
1704 JF (Jack) Frame 18 Aug 98 at Devonport
31023 Clifford Bragg 7 Nov 98 at Auckland
33751 Tom Swift 2 Dec 98 in UK

Life Members

AE Miln w.e.f. 31 Jan 96


Mrs Sylvia Rudge resigns as Lady Associate w.e.f. 7 Sept 98

Next Committee Meeting

Saturday 27 February 1999 at 1000hrs at the Birkenhead RSA.

Guest Editorial

These extracts from MajGen Ron Hassett's address at the Reunion Dinner at Taupo on 14 Nov 98 are featured as a Guest Editorial, in part to acknowledge his great service in his ten years as our Patron, and also because he expresses so well the spirit behind our Association, strongly evident at that gathering:

I am grateful for being given the opportunity to thank you all personally for the privilege you have accorded me these past ten years of making me your patron.

Since retiring 22 years ago I have had the good fortune to have held a number of Army related retirement appointments. They have all been rewarding but there are two that stand out as being very special. They are the Army Memorial Museum and the New Zealand Permanent Forces Old Comrades Association. It is the New Zealand Permanent Forces Old Comrades Association however that is closest to my heart for it is in this organisation that the spirit of our great Regiment truly rests. Seated around this dinner table is a group of old and dedicated gunners who have spent the greater pert of their adult lives in the service of the Regiment. It would be interesting to total the number of collective years that are between us; Jim Gilberd alone would contribute sixty seven years and Tom Chapman, now in his nintieth year, has had almost a life long EME association with the Regiment. A manifestation of the great spirit that pervades the Old Comrades is the fact that Tom caught a bus from Waikanae to be with us this weekend. The really sad thing for me is that while there is no organisation, other than the Old Comrades Association which has the interests of the serving regiment at heart, the Old Comrades have been largely ignored. It is a pity that the young gunners of today are not given the opportunity to brush shoulders with you and thus absorb some of the real spirit of our traditions and the service of the gun. My ambition when appointed as your Patron was to draw the serving gunner closer to the Old Comrades and I am sorry to say that I have failed you in this regard. I will be perfectly frank and say that I have been sadly disappointed at the lack of backing and support which 16 Field Regiment has given to us despite the many requests that have been made to them. Just a small token of interest at our annual gatherings, not involving any effort on their part, would mean so much.

However, I like to think that I had one success. The visit of the Master Gunner, St James's Park to our Taupo gathering some years back was a very special occasion. General Sir Martin Farndale was greatly impressed with the Old Comrades and was fulsome in his praise for the spirit of this "unique gunner association" and the "calibre of its members".

I am delighted that the recently appointed Colonel Commandant, Brigadier Ray Andrews has accepted the appointment of Patron. I hope that his close association with serving gunners, and 16 Field Regiment in particular, will serve to bring the Old Comrades in much closer contact with the young gunners of today.

Finally may I once again say thank you for the privilege of being your Patron.


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None this time.

Events & Reunions

THE TAUPO WEEKEND: 13 to 15 Nov 98
Annual General Meeting   |   Reunion Dinner   |   Church & Disperse

Part I: Annual General Meeting
President's Report by Ian Foster:
Welcome. It is good to see so many here today. I would like to thank you for making the effort. We are expecting 55 at the dinner tonight which is very pleasing. I would like to thank the District Representatives for their efforts over the past year. Thank you for keeping in touch with those who are poorly and less mobile. Membership has slipped slightly compared with last year. Our current membership stands at:

Total 347 compared with 362 last year. I am not standing for President, due to the increase in my work load and our family business. I would like to thank the Committee for their support and in particular Wally Ruffell, Des O'Connor, Jim Ross and Barney Harrop. In closing I would like to thank our Patron, Gen Hassett for his guidance over the past years. To all members I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

District Representatives:
Reports were received from Jim Gilberd (Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay), Angus Rivers (Wanganui, Manawatu), Roger Newth (Wellington, Marlborough) and Graeme Henderson (Southland - on behalf of Spencer Morrison).
The following resolutions were passed.
  1. Subscriptions: The annual subscription will be $10 and $5 for Lady Associates, as from 1999 inclusive.
  2. Officers: All officers and the Executive Committee were reappointed, except for the following changes -
    Patron: Brig RJ Andrews CBE replaces MajGen RDP Hassett CB CBE.
    President: Mr DP O'Connor replaces Mr IS Foster.
    District Reps -
    Northland: Brig HB Honnor CB MVO replaces Mr WN Stephenson.
    Canterbury/Westland/Nelson: LtCol JM Masters MC replaces PB O'Connor MBE.
  3. Internet Website: LtCol Angus Rivers was authorised to establish a trial internet website to be at no cost to the Association, for one year.
  4. Next Reunion: This will be held at Taupo on the weekend 12, 13, 14 Nov 99.
Part II: Reunion Dinner
Dinner, held at the splendid yacht club venue, was distinguished by the quality of the speeches. Guests of Honour were Brig RJ Andrews CBE and Mrs Laurie Andrews. Also attending were: Doug Adams, Bill and Jasmin Beveridge, Iris Boytor, Tom Chapman, Murray Connor, Matt Crawley, Leroy Forrester, Wally and Alison Fraser, Jim Gilberd, Bill and Emma Giles, Joe and Grace Hanvey, Bryce and Joan Harrison, Barney Harrop, Ron and Mike Hassett, Graeme Henderson, David Hughes, Terry Hughes, Jack Kearney, Don and Noeline Kenning, Bob and Betty Kerslake, Frank and Denise Lupo, Helen and Neil McMahon, Brian Meyer, Vic and Audrey Meyle, Brian Millyn, George and Patti Miln, Dick Mitchell, Roger and Lois Newth, Des and Bunty O'Connor, Jim and Ruby Ross, Wally Ruffell, Robby and Jean Wylde. Once more Angus Rivers came to the AGM but, being in the front line in the battle against the Y2K bug, could not attend the dinner.
Gratifying is this attendance, 20% above last years, and 50% greater than the graphologist forecast.
Toast - Her Majesty:
The Loyal Toast to our Captain General was conducted by Ian Foster, Dining President, and Paul Galloway as Mr Vice.
The Regiment:
In proposing this toast, Leroy Forrester struck a sincere and serious note, which set the tone for subsequent speakers. He had this to say:

The following is not a speech as such but a list of five personal observations and may not represent the view of the New Zealand Defence Force or the majority of the RNZA.
I recently had the pleasure of attending 16 Field Regiment's 48th Birthday celebrations. The parade, the ceremonies, the displays and dinner were fine affairs but during the weekend celebrations I wondered what reply I would have received from a gunner on parade if I had asked him what is 'the Regiment'. I was concerned that he would have said 16 Field Regiment. This is not meant to be an indictment of 16 Field Regiment but it concerns me. The Regiment is more than one unit. It is more than those here tonight. It is the gunners who have gone before us. It is the gunners who currently wear the 'Badge' and it is the gunners to come.

My second observation is that New Zealanders pride themselves on the 'Can Do Attitude'. That ability to overcome any situation with a piece of number eight wire and bailing twine. The Can Do Attitude is a two-edged sword. In my opinion it is an attitude that the system relies on to under-resource us.

The third observation is that the New Zealand Defence Force recently released a report on the integration of the sexes in the Defence Force. My belief is that with Lt Kelly May currently in Bosnia with SFOR and by all Accounts performing her duties stirringly, the RNZA is in the vanguard of integration of the sexes.

I mentioned earlier the 'Can Do Attitude' and that it is a two-edged sword. The primary edge is the ability to overcome problems, to be resourceful and adaptable. Those attributes are seen in the current breed of gunners. As an ex Master Gunner I was always critical of standards and finding fault in procedures and drills. It is the nature of the beast. But the RNZA's ability to adapt, to learn and to overcome can be seen in the gunners deploying on SFOR. They, in a very short time learnt and in some cases mastered a new artillery system, the AS90, and have shown that our gunners are the measure of the Royal Artillery. I also believe that the RNZA gunners that have deployed with the RA, on SFOR, have determined that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.

My last observation is that this week brings the first firing of the Mistral VLLAD missile in New Zealand and opens a new chapter in technology for the RNZA.
On that positive note please charge your glasses and be upstanding for the toast to the Regiment.

The Reply:
The reply to the toast was delivered by Paul Galloway, Master Gunner at the School, in the manner fitting that proud title. We hope to give the text of his remarks in Newsletter 101.
Absent Comrades:
The traditional toast has often been disposed of in short order, but on this occasion Des O'Connor produced a masterpiece. He quoted the classic poem of 1914-18, "In Flanders Fields", reminding us that the Canadian author, Major John McCrae, had been a gunner in the Boer War, but having then qualified in medicine was not allowed to rejoin the Artillery and became an infantry battalion RMO. After the deep emotion of that piece, Des produced a classic of a different kind, "The Irish Mother's Letter to Her Son", which returned us to the living and laughter.
Address by the Colonel Commandant:
Brig Ray Andrews, our new Patron, introduced himself and let us know of the latest initiatives in the long-heralded production of a history of the RNZA, with which he has been engaged. Recent indications of support from the Secretary of Defence, Chief of Defence Force, and Chief of the General Staff are encouraging, and we look forward to learning of more progress in the New Year.
Part III: Church & Disperse
Church Parade:
Once more conducted by Padre Bill McLeay in the impressive surroundings of the historic Te Tiki o Te Tamamutu meeting house. We were glad to see Mrs Tui McLeay restored to health and in good voice. Helen McMahon on the organ led us through four good rousing old hymns.
One for the Road:
We again enjoyed the final refreshments of the reunion in Suite A of the Spa Hotel. These were paid for by the proceeds of the raffle of the brass gun produced by Wally Ruffell: a model SBML 24pr on a wooden garrison standing carriage. Then back on the road, leaving the rearguard (excl ranks, Boytor, O'Connor and Ruffell) smiling among the bottles.
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