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Newsletter No. 116 December 2002

Routine Orders     |    From the Editor

Routine Orders

Last Post

Capt Wally Russell (life member)   in Glenfield Auckland July 2002.
Frank Wood (life member)  in Warkworth c. 2000.
Brig John Lindsay (Lin) Smith CMG, CBE   in Tauranga 11 September 2002.
John Hancox   in Auckland 3 November 2002.

Life Members

Brig Les Wright, Robert Forbes, Mrs Irene (Rene) McLean. Return to top

From the Editor - 2002 Reunion in Taupo

Reunion 2002 saw us again gather in Taupo to enjoy a great weekend of friendship, anecdotes and plain old fashion bull dust and swinging lights.

Twenty six members and their guests were accommodated at the Spa Hotel which is now under new management. The accommodation, meals and service were top rate providing all who stayed there with an extremely enjoyable weekend. Whatever was asked for was provided.

The visit to the RSA was, as usual, a very nostalgic gathering of everyone who had not seen one another for the past 12 months. And, as was to be expected, we were treated with true hospitality by the members and staff of the Taupo RSA. After this the Spa Hotel guests returned to the Spa for the evening meal and of course more liquid refreshments. With the change of management at the Spa we were to see a number of improvements that suited our people very well. The main bar is now open again with splendid, well priced, bistro meals available and accommodation at its normal high standard. Each morning there was a buffet type breakfast provided that could only rate as 5*.

This year the AGM was held in the old Meeting House which in itself added a certain degree of nostalgia to the gathering



The AGM was held in the old Meeting House of the Spa Hotel at 1000 Saturday 2 November 2002. Bob Kerslake stood in for Bob Blankley who was unable to attend the weekend, and Graeme Black stood in for John Rout who was also unable to attend. Both Bob and John had expressed their regrets at being unable to attend and apologised.

The acting President welcomed the members to the weekend and introduced Chief Inspector Sherwood Young who was the Guest Speaker for the Formal Dinner.

Present: 30 Members and Associate Members. See the list of persons who attended the Reunion Dinner, plus Mike Subritsky, Bill Beveridge and Bert Dyson.

Apologies: were received and accepted from John Barrett, Bob Blankley, Alan Boyd, Brig Blackie Burns, Spencer Cocks, Ron Cross, Ivan Doak, Doug Dumbleton, Dan Foley, Neil Forbes, Frank Gibbison, Bill Godfrey, RA Harris, Jackie Harvey, Maj Gen Ron Hassett, Brian Hewitt, Big Harry Honnor, D Ralph Hughes, Harold Jones, Kerry Lee, Vic Meyle, Brian Millynn, Ralph Porter, Les Pye, Rupert Robinson, Tom Roche, Al Ross, Jim Ross, John Rout, Iris Rowntree, Angus Rivers, Catherine Rivers, Wally Ruffell, Gordon Weaver, Rick Williams, Brig.Les Wright, Yogi Young.


11 Members including 1 Associate Lady Member and 1 Associate Member have passed away since the last Reunion. Their names have been published in previous Newsletters and added to the Book of Remembrance. The President asked for a minute silence in tribute to those Members.

Treasurer's Report

The Secretary read out notes from the Treasurer.

  1. Increase in Subs collected was due to arrears being received, some 3 years old.
  2. Socials and Reunions reflects increased costs, but as in past years the Reunion was self funding.
  3. Printing and Stationery shows an increase due to the use of a commercial printer for the Newsletters, this was partially offset by the savings in cost with our photocopier.
  4. General Expenses. Donation of $100 towards the Artillery Bar Leaner in the Papakura RSA and a wreath for the Gilberd family.

The accounts have been audited by the Assn. Hon Auditor. The Income and Expenditure Report and Balance Sheet were approved by the meeting. Copies of the Annual Accounts are available from the Secretary on request.

Annual Subscription: It was approved to leave the Subs at $10, and $5 for Lady Associates.

Bank Accounts: Cheque Account $3004.35 and Accelerator Savings Account $1218.22. The Cheque Account is was inflated with approx $1800 collected for the Taupo Dinner.

President and District Reps' ANNUAL REPORTS

The President's Report was read by Bob Kerslake and is below. Verbal District Reps Reports were presented by Jeff Waters for Harry Honnor, Northland; Jeff Waters, Auckland; Graeme Black, Waikato; Matt Crawley, Bay of Plenty; Jack Kearney, Hawkes Bay; Roger Newth, Wellington; John Masters, South Island.

Patron/Colonel Commandant's Annual Report

Brig Ray Andrews briefed the meeting on Gunner matters.


In opening this report, I must first offer an apology for my non attendance at the AGM and Reunion Dinner, I will also be absent from New Zealand for much of 2003. However, I will be at next year's gathering.

The current membership is made up as follows: Members 184, Life Members 70, Associate Members 12, Associate Life Members 16, Associate Lady Members 15, Honorary Members 6, Total Membership 303. During the year the following strength changes occurred: Last Post 11, Resignations 4, Struck off for non payment of subs 11, New Members 5.

As can be seen from these figures, 30% of our strength are now Life or Honorary Members, the need to attract more younger members is now even greater. The Secretary will continue to push this in the news letters, but I believe the one on one approach may be the best.

The Spa Hotel, as the main base for the accommodation is now under new ownership and is about to offer more services than have been available in the past. Any fears about the future of the facility are now gone.

When deciding the dates for next year's reunion, we must consider the impact that the Rugby World Cup may have on attendance. The final match of the Cup will be played on Saturday 22 November 2003, a suggested date for our Reunion is Friday 28 November to Sunday 30 November.

Since there is nothing further to report let me wish you well for the remainder of the weekend.
RG Blankley  MBE President


The Old Comrades' website continues to flourish. In the past 12 months, it has included articles on mortars, muzzle brakes, gun rules, breech mechanisms, coastal artillery, a chronology from 1840, a field funeral at Gallipoli in WW1, life as a POW of the Japanese in WW2, photographs from the Vietnam War, and tales of mess life. We have continued the very popular series of: The Gun (by Wally Ruffell), the development of the mortar, and the 5th and 6th Field Regiment histories. Both 163 Battery and 164 Battery have featured.

In a first for this website, we were graced with articles from father and son, with Staff Sergeant RJ Wait in WW1 and Major Robin Wait in WW2. In another first, we received a lawyer's letter warning us against the use of the trademarked word, 'Sellotape´┐Ż '.

Poems, personal pages, obituaries, book reports and news items continue to be popular. Highlights from the newsletters are included, and articles that appear in those newsletters find their way into the History or Tales sections of the website.

Email to the webmaster and the secretary confirm that we are providing a welcome service to the world's artillery community, and we have been honoured recently with an award of excellence from the 28 ANZUK organisation. But the greatest accolade must be that since the last AGM, there have been 205,000 hits on our website.

We have been blessed with the histories of several formations, but I would be grateful for assistance in securing information on 5 Light Regiment, 10 Coast Regiment, and 2 Field Regiment, as well as ammunition. All information on New Zealand's artillery is worth collecting including diaries, photographs and general impressions. The website will continue, and I'd like to thank all those who have helped to make it such a success.
Catherine Rivers  PhD Webmaster, NZPFOCA.


The following appointments were approved.
Patron Brigadier Ray Andrews
PresidentBob Blankley
SecretaryJohn Rout
TreasurerJohn Barrett
Committee Shay Bassett, Graeme Black, Denis Dwane, Ted Lile, Bob Kerslake, Jeff Waters.
District RepsThe District Reps are to remain the same except that Matt Crawley will approach Mike Dakin to take over the Bay of Plenty.
Honorary AuditorThe Honorary Auditor to remain as Mr Neil Forbes ACA ACIS.
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After some discussion it was accepted that the next Reunion he held during the first weekend of November 2003 (i.e. Fri 31 Oct to Sun 2 Nov).However, a check should be made with 'Taupo Information' that it does not clash with anything in Taupo that weekend.

Brian Meyer moved that the Church Parade be more of a dedication service, e.g. Last Post, Reveille be played, Binyon's 'Ode To The Fallen' be recited and the names of members passed on during the year be read out. This suggestion was accepted

Jeff Waters advise that prints of the 'Moor Gun Position' were available from RSM McLean during the weekend and Ray Andrews spoke highly of the painter's work.

A message was received from John Rout as to whether or not the NZPFOCA should approach the Lotteries Commission for a grant so that we can either assist Southern people north or northern people south for a reunion. John Masters pointed out that the double airfare Christchurch/Taupo was approx $835. The suggestion was accepted unanimously

M Subritzky briefed the members on a book he is considering in the future and requested that if anyone had any Gunner stories they could provide to contact him.

There being no further business the meeting closed at 1145 and members moved outside for a group photograph to be taken by Tony Tustin. Return to top


Before the dinner started the Dining President, Major Dennis Dwane, congratulated John Masters and Padre Derm Buchanan on their recent awards. He then read out a message received from Major General Ron Hassett, as follows :

My wife and I would like to say how very sorry we are that we cannot be with you to share in this weekend's functions. This will be only the second occasion in almost 17 years that we have not been present. The Old Comrades Association is an organisation that we both greatly cherish as it brings together so many of our old friends.

As long as the Old Comrades Association is strong and vibrant this great Regiment of ours can only benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of all the old Gunners around this table. It is an organisation that is unique and unparalleled in its structure and its dedication to the great Regiment in which we all had the privilege of serving. Thanks to the efforts of some of our younger members the Association is stronger and more active now than it has ever been.

Without wishing to introduce a sad note on such a festive occasion I am sure you will spare a little time to remember some of the great gunner figures who graced this table over the years and who, sadly have limbered up.

I would like to send a special greeting to those of you with whom I had the privilege of serving in My memories of my association with you are deeply treasured. I am really sorry that I cannot be with you.

May you all have a very happy weekend.

Once again the dinner was held at the Taupo Bowling Club and with a different table arrangement the night ended as a notable success. 52 members and guests attended the dinner which was, sadly, well down from last year's count of 72.

Members and guests were Ray and Laurie Andrews, Shay Bassett, Graeme Black, John Blaker, Iris Boyter, Padre Derm Buchanan, Matt Crawley and Rita Moore, Barry and Maureen Cook, Denis and Margaret Dwane, Bill and Emma Giles, Jack Kearney, Don and Noeline Kenning, Bob and Betty Kerslake, Ted and Nes Lile, RSM Robert and Esther McLean, our organist Helen McMahon, from Christchurch John and Alisoun Masters, from Australia Brian Meyer and Linda Novotny, Dick Mitchel, George, Patti and Clive Miln, Bill and Estelle Morland, Roger and Lois Newth, Des and Bunty O'Connor, Mike and Sandy Pearce, Don and Lorraine Potter, Dave and Marie Roberts, Tony Tustin, Ron Turner, Jeff Waters, Roger and Jean Wylde, and our Guest Speaker Chief Inspector Sherwood and Marie Young.

Prior to the toasts the Dining President, Major Denis Dwane assembled the Caterer and staff to thank them most sincerely for a job well done this was carried with acclamation.

(Dan Foley was to come to the dinner, with his wife from Australia, but had to pull out. He kindly donated his dinner fees towards the purchase of Port for the toasts. Thank you Dan.)

The Loyal Toast: Mr Vice, Barry Cook, proposed the toast to The Queen our Captain General.
The Regiment: Shay Bassett proposed the toast to the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery
The Reply: Our Patron and Colonel Commandant, Brigadier Ray Andrews, relied to the toast.
Absent Friends: Matt Crawley proposed the Toast to absent friends and referred to many of our great Gunners who have received their terminal posting to the great gun park in the sky.
The New Zealand Police: Since we have an association with the NZ Police from the Armed Constabulary, it was decided to invite a representative from the Police as our Guest Speaker. In accordance with that Graeme Black proposed a toast the New Zealand Police.
The Reply: Chief Inspector Sherwood Young addressed the assembled members and guests with a very interesting history of the Armed Constabulary in the 1800 and 1900s and some interesting characters from that period. His address will appear on the website in the not distant future. Return to top

Church Parade and Dispersal

The Taupo RSA Padre, Derm Buchanan, conducted the Service in the old Meeting House with music provided by Helen McMahon. The organ had been arranged with Theresa who was the previous manager of the Spa. Des O'Connor read the lesson and then Derm provided the address. Although the church parade was conducted with normal due reverence, it was in a light hearted manner which made it an extremely well accepted service enjoyed by all.

After the service everyone adjourned to the Spa Bar for 'one for the road' and as normal this was paid for out of proceeds from the raffle of Wally's gun and some other donated items. This year the gun was won by Ted Lile. The Spa Bar was a very good venue for the drinks and the Spa management very kindly provided tea and coffee. Many more stories were swapped before the last members left at around 12 noon. Return to top

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