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Newsletter No. 112 December 2001

Routine Orders     |    From the Editor     |    The AGM     |    The Dinner     |    Church Parade
President's Report     |    Webmaster's Report     |     The Tropics

Seasons Greetings

Our President and Executive send all members their best wishes for a merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. At this time our thoughts are with those of you who have lost loved ones during the year and for those that have not been in good health we wish you a speedy recovery.

Routine Orders

Last Post

Capt Jim GilberdLife Member, at Napier on 22 September 2001.
Capt Joe HanveyLife Member, at Albany on 22 November 2001.

New Members

Master Gunner Mike Phillips

Life Members

GC (Darkie) Forrester Return to top

From the Editor

2001 Reunion

Once again the gathering in Taupo was a huge success and the change of venue for the AGM, to the Spa Hotel, and the dinner, to the Bowling Club, was well received. As you will see later we have some new committee members and several have decided to stand down after giving the Association sterling service, some for many years.

For those of you who were not able to attend this year, you missed a good show and we hope some of you can make it next year, especially those who live handy to the venue. Return to top



See the list of those who attended the dinner.


A copy of the President's report is included and reports from the following district reps were received: Matt Crawley, Tom Roche, Harry Honnor, and Roger Newth. (Jack Kearney has very kindly volunteered to fill the gap, left by the death of Jim Gilberd, in the Napier area.) Return to top


The following resolutions were passed:

  • The Treasurer's Report and Financial Statement
  • Annual Subscriptions to remain at $10 and $5 for lady associate members.
  • Secretary's annual honorarium to remain at $300.
  • Election of Committee as follows:
    • President, Bob Blankley
    • Secretary, John Rout
    • Treasurer, John Barrett
    • Committee, Shay Bassett, Graeme Black, Iris Boyter, Ted Lile, Bill Morland, and Jeff Waters
  • Committee resignations accepted as follows:
    • Dick Mitchell, Wally Ruffell, Des O'Connor and Jim Ross
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South Island Members

The secretary explained that 12 out of the 40 South Island members had responded positively to a return sent out to gauge the feeling for an organised gathering in the South Island. Because of the low result the meeting decided not to follow this up at this time. The secretary would advise known Gunner activities in future newsletters do that South Island members can be involved if they wish. Return to top

The Book

Our Patron told the meeting that the RNZA Book was due to have the writing completed by July 2002 and after necessary checks etc, published by July 2003. There was to be a competition to find a name for the book and the dust cover design. Return to top

Next AGM/Reunion

This will once again be in Taupo over the weekend 1 to 3 November 2002.
Keep this period free so that you can attend. Return to top

The Dinner

This year the dinner was held in the Bowling Club opposite the Yacht Club. 72 members and guests sat down to dinner and although the table layout was a little tight this was soon sorted out. We have decided to use the same venue next year and there is room for expanding the seating if more decide to attend.

Members and Guestrs attending were: Doug Adams, Ray and Laurie Anrews, Robert Barker, Shay & Jacqui Bassett, Bill & Jasmine Beveridge, Graeme Black, Bob Blankley, Allan & Elsie Boyd, Iiris Boyter, Blackie & Shirley Burns, Ian & Sue Foster, Spencer & Joan Cocks, Matt Crawley & Rita Moore, John & Bev Blaker, Paul & Colleen Galloway, Bill & Emma Giles, Ron & Mike Hassett, Harry Honnor, Jack Kearney, Don & Noeline Kenning, Bob & Betty Kerslake, Ted & Nes Lile, Brian Meyeer & Linda Novotny, Vic & Audrey Meyle, George & Patti Miln, Dick Mitchell, Bill & Estelle Morland, Roger & Lois Newth, Des & Bunty O'Connor, Deborah Lane & Clive Holt, Mike Phillips, Don & Lorraine Potter, Bill & Joyce Powrie, Dave & Marie Roberts, Tom & Barbara Roche, Jim Ross, John Rout, Wally Ruffell & daughter Lorraine, Enid Standen, Glenys Gilberd, Padre Derm & Aileen Buchanan, Helen McMahon, guest speaker Major Ben Green & Rose Haynes. Return to top

The Loyal Toast

The President, Bob Blankley, and Mr Vice, Paul Galloway, proposed the toast to the Queen our Captain General.

The Regiment

John Rout proposed the toast to the Royal Regiment.


The guest speaker Maj Ben Green, Battery Commander 163 Battery, 16 Field Regiment, thanked all present for the manner in which they had performed the toast to the Regiment. He then gave a short address including the present state of the RNZA. 163 Battery would be back with the rest of 16 Field Regiment in Linton Camp by the end of November. All gun and motar fire support training was now being conducted by the RNZA, this included 81 mm mortar training. The purchase of a vehiucle to replace the present Landrovers was being looked into. The long barrels for the 105mm Light Guns, that enabled them to fire the Abbot ammunition, had been returned to Ordnance, no longer required. During their 6 month tour as peacekeepers in East Timor, 161 and 163 Batteries had performed their duties to a high standard. To end his talk Maj Green thanked us for the invite and mentioned he would see what he could do about involving more of the present day gunners with our reunion next year so that they may meet and talk with the old and bold. Return to top

Out-going Committee Members

The President thanked out going committee members, Wally Ruffell, Des O'Connor, Dick Mitchell and Jim Ross, for their outstanding service and all present showed their appreciation with thunderous applause.

Absent Friends

Des O'Connor proposed the toast to Absent Friends. During his speech Des made special mention of the service that Jim Gilberd had given not only to the Old Comrades' ssn but to the NZ Army, in particular the RNZA. He further mentioned that the performance of the 16 Field Regiment Gunners at Jim's military funeral was excellent and as good as any he had witnessed during his lifetime. Return to top

Church Parade and Dispersal

In the absence of Padre Bill McLeay the church service in the meeting house at the Spa Hotel was conducted by the Taupo RSA Padre, Derm Buchanan. Music, as usual, was supplied by Helen McMahon. Wally Ruffell read the lesson and during the service a period of silence was observed to mark Remembrance Day. After an excellent service one for the road took place in the Spa dining room. As in the past this was paid for from the proceeds of the raffle for Wally's gun. This year the gun was won by George Miln who had previously won the same raffle. George very kindly asked for a re-draw and this time it went to Don Potter. Return to top

President's Report


The total membership of the Association at the moment is 315, made up as follows:

Members (Normal)202Life Members63
Associate Members (Men)15Associate Members (Ladies)14
Associate Life Members14Honorary Members6
During the year to date we have recorded the following changes:
Last Posts6Resignations3
Gone Address Unknown7New Members7

As can be seen from these figures, the balance between normal members and life members is changing, caused by our membership average age increasing annually. There is therefore a need to attract more young members and suggestions on how to do this would be welcomed by the committee.

AGM & Reunion

The Taupo Yacht Club was not available for our AGM and Reunion Dinner this year forcing a change to the Spa Hotel for the AGM and the Taupo Bowling Club for the dinner. This could be a sign of things to come, as changes appear to be the norm now days. We must also keep in mind that the future of the Spa Hotel is by no means certain. To Lose this historical link with our past would be a sad blow however, we will continue to use the Spa as long as it is possible.


The committee is just managing to maintain its numbers because of the unfailing loyalty of some long service members. As some of these people would like to stand down, I am putting out a call for members of the Association who are prepared to serve on the committee to contact the Secretary. The committee meets once every two months at the Papkura RSA, for a period of 1 to 2 hours.


In closing I wish to mention the passing of Captain Jim Gilberd and hope the Association, to which he gave so much of his time and energy, will continue to serve its members, as a fitting memorial to a truly loyal member.

RG Blankley

Editor's note: Bob's report was read to the AGM before the election of officers and the plea for new committee members was almost completely answered on the day. Bill Morland is a long serving committee man and still is. Bill would like to give it a rest so if you are interested please get in touch with the secretary. Return to top

Webmaster's Report

Since the 2000 AGM, the website has had 118,000 hits, up from 40,000 the previous year, and we have been informed by an organisation that monitors these things that we are in the top ten personal websites in NZ. We continue to attract interest from professional gunners and other interested parties from all over the world.

A feature of this year's contributions has been the superb work done by Mike Dakin in the processing and presentation of maps of Vietnam. Such work is laborious and time-consuming, and it is a measure of the high standards he has achieved that the finished product appears so professional.

The website is the result of the combined efforts of many people and has been blessed this year with articles and photographs from Mike Subritzky, Kerry Lee, Tony Tustin, John Nagle, Murray Broomhall, Lindsay Skinner, John Masters, Robin Wait, Ngaire Subritzky, Bert Dyson, Matt Crawley, Graham Dallas, Struan MacGibbon, Doggo Downs, and Roger Newth, with helpful comments and suggestions from many others.

The monthly additions to the website would be incomplete without the splendid articles from Wally Ruffell on equipments, and I often receive email from strangers saying how pleased they are to have found the webpages. This is summed up by a passage from a recent email from an American:

"Today I stumbled across your website and was elated to find the information I wanted. I had no 'redlegs' available here to ask for such information as our army tends to know only its own history. I would like to thank you and your comrades for providing an excellent website and solid historical information." - Stev Lenon, Vietnam Medic, USA

Catherine Rivers
Webmaster, NZPFOCA

Editor's note: Catherine has thanked many people for their contributions and that is fine. However, without your dedication and hard work, Catherine, the website would not exist, so on behalf of the Association, thank you Catherine. Return to top

The Tropics

The tourist brochures paint the ideal picture of a tropical island, white sand, gentle breezes, waving palm trees and dusky maidens serving long cool drinks. Those of us who have served in the tropics know better. Here, copied from "The Gunners - a record of the 3rd NZ Div Artillery in the Pacific", is a reminder of what it is really like.

Picture it instead in wilting heat and sweaty humidity, with mosquitoes singing their high song of triumph, with rain pouring down only to rise again in billowing steam; with black thunder clouds masking the molten sky, with sheet and fork lightning splitting the heavens, and perhaps you will understand why we didn't like it much. An electrical thunderstorm in the Pacific doesn't mean the little penny-flare we see in New Zealand; it means a full-power show with billions of volts dancing and threatening, and sometimes striking. And rain so solid that it blankets out everything; thunder so intense your little soul thinks it's the Day of Judgement and shrinks in craven fear. Heat so all-pervading that the night brings little relaxation and you lie with only a sheet over you to prevent a chill and a mosquito net to get some peace from the little devils. In the morning your bedding is damp with your sweat and you feel like a log of rotting wood as you climb back into your damp sweat smelling clothes.
Good eh!!!!

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