Neil Moros gave the toast for HM Queen Elizabeth II, our Captain General.
Lieutenant Colonel Graeme Wilson 3rd (Auck North) Battalion, gave the toast to The Regiment, and then related an overview of the activities of the Regiment, and as well he read a message from Lieutenant Colonel George Rooks who sent good wishes from the Gunners of 16th Field Regiment who were currently in the field at Waiouru. Lieutenant Colonel Rooks also asked that whilst the Gunners were gathered they remember the 9 members of the Regiment currently on Peacekeeping Operations in Bosnia and the 24 Officers who were on various Operations and Missions in the many hot spots throughout the world at this time in history.
Brigadier Ray Andrews replied and spoke of the birth of the Royal Regiment in 1716 (286 years ago). He reminded the guests that Gunners of 13 Commonwealth nations would also be celebrating Gunners' Day, from such far flung places as Malta to New Zealand. He also gave cause for concern at the current problems between Pakistan and India, and reminded that gathering that both nations also celebrate the tradition of Gunners' Day. Other topics that Brigadier Andrews touched on were the concern he mentioned in his speech last year regarding the fate of the RNZA ... thankfully we still have it.
The Auckland Artillery Officers Mess has closed in the last 12 months.
The Regimental history is progressing well, and the text of the manuscript is now up to the period of the Regiment's commitment to J Force and the Korean War. It is expected that the manuscript will be in the hands of the publisher by November 2003.
The memorial in Albert Park (Auckland) to the Gunners who served in South Africa has recently been repaired.
The RNZA fund has recently made presentations to the Kippenburger Library at the QEII Army Museum in Waiouru, and as well the Regiment has recently made a generous donation to the Waiouru Library.
A painting has just been completed by the artist Mrs Blackburn, for the Regiment and numbered prints of this painting (which I think represents the Gunners on Operations in Timor - Subritzky), will be available for purchase from about August this year.
Lieutenant "Woody" Barrett gave the toast the Absent Comrades, and also delivered a short speech on his involvement in the arrest of a drunken West Coaster (no names - no pack drill), while on Operations in South Vietnam. He then went on to recite a short piece of verse which brought the house down with applause.
Major Denis Dwane MBE delivered a short speech of thanks to the wives and sweethearts of the Gunners, and then gave a toast to the Ladies.
Captain Ian Garnett gave a speech on the activities of the Regiment, and also the Artillery thoughout New Zealand. He assured the guests that since the return of the 'Gunner' Battalion from Operational Service in East Timor, the Regiment is in good heart.
Major Rod Baldwin also thanked the Papakura Returned Services Association.
Mr Jack Bunt, President of the Papakura RSA, replied to Major Baldwin, and made mention of the tradition of Gunners' Day Dinners being held at Papakura RSA, the evenings gathering being the 7th such very successful dinner organised by Jeff Waters.
It is traditions such as our willingness to 'return to the fold' for events such as the acknowledgement of Gunners Day, that set us apart from other Corps and Units. I personally quit the NZ Army some 10 years ago and have moved on with my life, set other goals and endeavours, and have been very successful in a number. But returning to the Gunners' Day Dinner is always a great leveller as it returns all of us to that most important, and exciting part of our lives where we were part of a highly trained and professional Artillery Unit, where each of us relied and trusted upon the actions of those close to us for at times, our very survival.
I have never forgotten my very first evening meal at an Annual Camp back in the early 1970's. The Officers and Senior NCOs lined up to the side of the kitchen and called us young nobodies forward and then ensured that each and every one of us had a meal before they broke ranks and ate themselves. I never forgot that tradition and lived it to the letter when later I was a SNCO myself.
To Jeff Waters we all owe you a very big vote of thanks for reminding us of who and what we are...Gunners. Thank you Jeff.
Click on each thumbnail to see its full-size image.
Photographs and text courtesy Mike Subritzky