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Thine, O Lord, is the Victory

Tony Goodwin

These are the words on the “Roll of Honour” attached to the western inside wall of the Avondale
Baptist Church.
On a visit to Northern England, I visited a Church and viewed their “Roll of Honour” of the men who
died in the Crimean war, the Boer War, WW1, and WW2. Beautiful brass plates lovingly tended and
polished to this day. At the other extreme, an Auckland Church has its “Roll” out in the store room
buried amongst the collected junk that seems to beset us. There are forty two names inscribed on this
roll from WW1, a single name from WW2; such is the fate of history.
Only a handful of those attending our churches would know the names that appear on these rolls.
Most of us if asked, would not be aware that we have such rolls. Sadly where churches have
disappeared I suspect the names of their heroes have disappeared with them. In one church it was
removed due to not fitting in with the current décor. The roll from our New Lynn church is now held
by Baptist Archives. It would be good to see every Roll having a photographic record held in our
archives. It is the intention of this
booklet to bring some insight into
these ”names”. They represent
those who served our country in
the darkest days of war. At the
time they were remembered with
gratitude and affection, now long
At least forty million people died
one way or another due to WW2,
half of them from the Soviet Un-
ion. About six thousand New
Zealand Servicemen and women
were killed and more than sixteen
thousand wounded. Three of
these deaths were servicemen
from Avondale Baptist Church,
one each from the Army, Navy,
and Air Force. Signalman
Avondale Baptist Bible Class Boys, a number of whom served in the K Button was lost in the sinking
military in WW2. of HMS eptune, 19 December
1941. Private Bryce Parsons was
killed as the result of an accident, Fiji, 30 June 1942, and Flight Lieutenant Ian Leahy as the result of
a flying accident in Ceylon, 13 February 1943. Five were prisoners of war and both Turley brothers
were wounded in action, Burt twice.
Altogether there are twenty-two names listed. At the time of writing, two continue to worship at
Avondale, B Turley, and M Fearon. Of the others, Ces Jackman lives in the United States, and
continues communications with Burt Turley. Also Vera Jackman was the only woman from the
church to serve in the armed forces. She joined the Army in 1942, but her name does not appear on
this Roll. (It has been added following this article). Vera (Mrs. Webster) currently lives in Tauranga,
Ron Watts is in Hamilton, and Maurice Jackman in Auckland. Alex Blomfield lives in Brisbane. I do
not know of others who are still living.
Some never returned to the Church at Avondale following hostilities, or indeed, returned to any
church. War destroys so much in so many different ways, including spiritually, but these papers are
an attempt to acknowledge the part played by these young people from our Church in the defence of
New Zealand during one of the darkest episodes in our country’s history. We should remember them.
Here they are in the order that they appear on the roll.

[1] Baker, H K. Foundation scholar of the Sunday school. The names of these pupils appeared on
the shield in the Sunday school hall; now it is held by the Archives. The Bakers lived in Enismore
Road, Mt Albert. Keith’s sister Iris also attended the church. Contact magazine of September 1942
lists him as Prisoner of War, L/Corporal H. K. Baker, Avondale. Unfortunately the only records I can
find (2nd NZEF Nominal Rolls and lists of Prisoners of War) have a remarkable coincidence that
another H K Baker meets all the criteria but does not appear to be the correct person. NZDF Person-
nel Archives have not been able to confirm any other H K Baker so this remains a mystery in the
[2] Baker, M [Malcolm]. (No
relation to Keith). Marjorie, his
sister, married Monty Mead and
had a long association with the
Church. Malcolm was a Life
Boy Leader in 1945. He
worked for some time at
Kingseat Hospital, South
Auckland, and he died many
years ago. I know nothing of
his war service but suspect it
would have been on the “Home
Front” as he had poor eyesight.
Malcolm was the least military
person you could imagine.

eil Barker (second from left), Bathurst, SW Africa.

[3] Z425220 Barker,  B (eil) Fg.Off RZAF. Like a number of young men from the church,
Neil was in the Bible Class and the Boys Brigade. On joining the RNZAF, he trained in Canada
under the Empire Air Training Scheme prior to serving in 490 New Zealand Squadron Coastal
Command. This Squadron, originally
equipped with Wellingtons, Catalinas
and finally Sunderlands was based in
Freetown Sierra Leone. Neil was the
navigator in a Sunderland that ditched
at sea on 13 July 1944.

“490 Squadron RZAF detachment at
Bathurst, Gambia 298 Wing Thursday
13th July 1944. Jui, Sierra Leone;
Anti-submarine patrol, South of Cape
Verde, French West Africa, Sunder-
land III ML825/P lost power on both
port engines. Depth Charges were set
to safe and jettisoned prior to the air-
craft hitting the water and breaking
eil Barker (left), location unknown.
up. The wireless operator F/S Opie
and flight engineer, Sgt. Scott, both
died as a result of the crash. The eight survivors, five of whom were injured, were sighted in their
two dinghy’s the next day by a patrolling Sunderland and picked up by an American Air Sea rescue
launch which landed them at Dakar on the 15th.” (For your tomorrow : a record of ew Zealanders
who have died while serving with the RZAF and allied air services since 1915 , Errol Martyn, 1998-
“Without food or water they drifted for twenty hours when an aircraft was seen circling eight miles
away. The air was full of haze, if they used their only two signal flares and they were not seen their

last hope would be gone. Alternatively if they saved them
for a better chance, it might never happen! “We had a
pow-wow there and then and everyone had their say. As
Chairman I decided it better to wait for a better chance”
said McGreal. It was pathetic to see the spirits drop as the
aircraft disappeared out of sight. Two hours later we knew
we were right, another aircraft appeared three miles away
and we lit our signal flares.”
[ew Zealand ews, 10 October 1944]

Crew of Sunderland EJ165. eil Barker front left. W. O.
Opie top left & Sgt. Scott top right. Both died on impact.
Fg. Off. McGreal’s diary while in the
dinghy - written on a ten shilling note!
This incident is covered in A oble Chance: one pilot’s Serious navigation error : EE should read
life by Maurice McGreal (1994), who was the senior pilot WW!!
on the ill fated plane. Neil suffered a head injury in the
crash, but endeavored to help a more seriously injury crew
member who eventually succumbed. This incident contin-
ued to affect Neil for many years after the war. He married
a Canadian girl (Betty) and built his home in Methuen
Road, Avondale. They had two children, Donna and Billy.
Neil worked for many years for TEAL (Tasman Empire
Airways Limited). He was a Life Boy Leader prior to
entering the Air Force; Gordon Trigg, Murray Fearon and
Burt Turley were close friends. He came back to the 60th
anniversary celebrations of the Church. His second wife
lives in Auckland.

[4] 66593 Becroft, C K [Colin] 2nd/Lieutenant 35 Bat-
talion. Born at Auckland 2 May 1916, Colin was educated
at Auckland Grammar and both Auckland and Victoria
Universities. The Becrofts lived at Avondale Road. Colin
entered camp in August 1941 and embarked for Lautoka
on Transport T35 January 1942. In July that year he was
returned to Auckland but in December was once more in
the Pacific as part of “Mainyard”, the New Zealand action
Lieutenant Colin Becroft

on Green Island. A Company 35 Battalion “B” Force Took part in the fighting at Vella Lavella and
Green Island. The report by Captain J H Jackson gives a dramatic description of the action against
the Japanese forces in which a number of New Zealanders were killed and wounded.

Colin returned to New Zealand and in October 1944 was posted to the reserve list and saw no further
action. He went on to become Head of the Scripture Union in New Zealand, and moved to the United
States, where he continued his work with SU and also led the work there. He returned to New
Zealand having spent a life time of Christian Service. His daughter Jennifer Hendrickson has helped
with information on her Father.

(Top) Z Troops 35 Battalion. (Below) Officers 35 Battalion.

Men of 35 Battalion,
Vella Lavella.

Japanese transport vessel,
Green Island.

Z troops, Green Island.

[5] A Blomfield (Alex). The following correspondence was received from Alex and is self explana-
tory. “Thank you for your letter of 27th October and the effort you have put into your research. How-
ever, I wish to advise that from late 1937 I was no longer a member of the Avondale Baptist Church,
or had any connection with it from that time. Under these conditions my service records are irrele-
vant, thank you all the same. Alex Blomfield.”

The Blomfield family was closely linked to the church. On Sunday evening 20 June 1926, the foun-
dation members included the following Blomfields. Miss Rose Blomfield, Mrs. Hazel Mead, Mrs.
Daisy Fearon, Mrs. Daisy P Blomfield, Mr. A T Blomfield (Treasurer) and Miss Ivy Blomfield. Per-
haps the significant place of this name in the church history led to Alex’s name appearing on this roll
but it will remain a mystery at present.

[6] 7592. Bright G A (George) Pvte. 5th Field Ambulance POW o. 3200. Lived at 933 New
North Road and worked as a farmhand at Ohinewai prior to entering Burnham Camp 6 October 1939.
He embarked with the 2nd echelon, which due to the dire situation following Dunkirk was diverted to
England where they stayed until the threat of invasion had passed. The contingent thankfully left
England and was reunited with the New Zealand Division in Egypt, March 1941. George was
attached to the 5th Field Ambulance (a surprising number of Baptist men served and were captured in
this unit). He was captured and became a Prisoner of War 13 December 1941. Transferred to
Tutarano POW Transit Camp, Italy, he was then held at Campo PG57 and was repatriated arriving in
Bluff on the Londonderry Castle, April 1942. It was the practice that Field Ambulance staff accom-
panied repatriated wounded, and a condition of this action was to forbid them returning to active ser-
vice; hence George saw out the rest of the war in New Zealand and was discharged from the army at
Wellington in May 1944.

[7] Brown, Royston, Major, 2nd Bihar Regiment, 25 Pioneer Battalion, Indian Army.
Royston was a New Zealand Baptist Missionary in India in the 1930s. Following the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, India, as part of the British Empire found itself at war with
Japan. The Allied Forces were quickly overrun from Hong Kong to the Coasts of New Guinea, and
Japanese Forces controlled the Northern and Western Pacific. Singapore, the supposed British
Pacific bastion was ignominiously captured, the most abject defeat in British military history.
Japanese naval forces entered the Indian Ocean and did a clean sweep of any shipping they came
across. The British Fleet sensibly kept out of the way,
except for the unfortunate carrier Hermes and the cruiser
Cornwall which were quickly dispatched. This raiding force
then went on to carry out air attacks on Ceylon and bom-
barded the port of Chitagong, destroying the oil installations.
In fact India was at its mercy, but due to commitments in the
Pacific, the Japanese fortuitously withdrew. For all the
damage that was sustained, the whole exercise had proved
rather pointless. Far more threatening to India was the land-
ing of Japanese troops in Burma, who quickly overcame the
British Indian Forces, driving them back to the Frontier under
conditions so awful that few were ever fit to fight again.

“The outbreak of war on 1st September 1939 did not affect
our missionary activities very much until the Japanese en-
tered the conflict. It is true that the Indian people greatly
resented the fact that the British Government declared war
on Germany without consultation with the people of India
(Large numbers of Indian troops were now fighting in the
Western Desert alongside the ew Zealand Division). The

Rev. Royston Brown

Major Royston Brown, Bihar Regiment

fall of Singapore, and the invasion of Burma brought the war to
our backdoor. There were blackouts in Calcutta, and defence
positions erected at Chandpur and elsewhere. Some of the
Indian troops captured at Singapore joined the “Indian
Liberation Army” to fight the British under the Bengali, Subhas
Chandra Bose. As the war progressed, the area of conflict grew
closer and closer to our borders. What action should a healthy
young missionary take in this situation? I discussed the matter
with Harry Jones and wrote to the Military Secretary in ew

“I received a telegram asking me to report to the Area
Commander in Calcutta. He told me I had been granted an
emergency commission in the Indian Army and I reported for
duty a couple of days before Christmas 1941. The war inevitably
caused upheavals and retrenchments in our missionary work.

I was on active service for five years, and must cover these five years in about two lines! There were
over a million men in the Indian Army. In that tremendous army there were two battalions which
had a majority of Christians on their strength. In the providence of God [and the common sense of
the authorities] Harry Jones was posted to one and I to the other (25 Pioneer Battalion 2nd Bihar
Regiment Line of Communication Troops). On one occasion I wrote from the Jungles of Burma to
the Bishop of Chota agpur how his men had behaved on active service. In reply he told me that
instead of preaching on the Sunday night, he had read my letter to the congregation in the Cathedral
at Ranchi.” (Personal correspondence, O. Dickson).

Bihar Regiment: Both famous, and to the British East India Company, infamous. The 1857 revolt
(generally referred to in English literature as
The Great Indian Mutiny or more appropri-
ately “The Bengal Revolt”) had its origins in
the introduction of greased cartridges and
new musketry procedures introduced by the
British East India Company. This procedure
included biting off the end of the cartridge,
and loading the powder into the musket. The
Indian troops were of the belief that these
cartridges were greased with beef fat, and
therefore unclean. The incompetent handling
of this issue led to the mutiny of the Bihari
“The Bihari was not only an excellent sol-
dier, he was also quick to learn and apply
the tactical drills with initiative. He was dis-
ciplined when led by good officers [very few
of these in the British East India Company! -
note] but capable of hostility when his cus-
toms and beliefs were disregarded. Follow-
ing the revolt being savagely put down by
British forces, Bihars were not allowed to
bear arms again until the end of World War
One, when they were accepted into the Hy-
Major Royston Brown and son Elven derabad Regiment which later became the

Kumaon Regiment. 1st Bihar owes its origins to the Kumaonis the 2 nd was raised in 1942 as part of
the Bihar Regiment” (Bharat Rakshak website,

The Burma Campaign. “The longest Campaign of World War Two was fought in Burma. It was,
arguably, the most ferocious, and most varied. It comprised jungle as well as desert warfare. The
longest retreat in the history of the British Army, followed by the greatest defeat suffered on land by
the Japanese. Long range penetration groups operated hundreds of miles behind enemy lines, ruth-
less hand to hand fighting, armies transported by Dakota aircraft and bamboo rafts. The list is
almost endless, and it had its share of forceful personalities. The cantankerous Limey hating US
General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, the brilliant genius of Orde Wingate, the colourful Japanese
Generals Mutaguchi and Miyazaki, the fiery Bengali Revolutionary, Subbas Chandra Bose, and the
two pillars of British High Command, Field Marshal Slim and Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten.

“The place and climate was as much an enemy as the man you were sent to kill. Malaria, Scrub
Typhus, leeches, boots that rotted on the feet while you fought.

“The campaign was a medical war as well as bayonets, guns, mortars, and transport. Decisions were
made based on the availability of men and supplies. It was a very cruel war; often better to be killed
outright than to be taken prisoner. There was no capacity on either side to feed, house, or transport
prisoners. Commanders despair drove men to suicide tactics, punishment for breach of military dis-
cipline sometimes reverted to the savagery of the nineteenth century.” (Burma, the Longest War
1941-45, Louis Allen, 1984)

The turning point came with the lifting of the siege of Kohima, and although there was a long period
of savage fighting ahead the Japanese had lost the initiative. The stone raised in memory of the dead
at Kohima says, with brief poignancy.
When you go home
Tell them of us, and say,
For your tomorrow
We gave our today

“I witnessed an incident, an Indian soldier giving water to Japanese wounded, which struck me as,
well, unusual in the circumstances. All of a sudden there was a terrific whoomph. I realised it wasn’t
water but petrol. It really was a terrible war.” (Royston Brown personal recollection)

It was the Rhododendrons of the hillside village of Kohima that left such a lasting impression on
Royston and following his retirement to their property in the Waitakere Ranges, The Browns
established a wonderful Rhododendron garden overlooking the city

“Rev. Royston Brown is Home Again
After ten years away from ew Zealand, Rev. Royston Brown, one of our “BC Representatives” in
India, arrived back at Auckland at the beginning of August. For the last five years he has been Major
Brown of the Indian Army, leading a battalion of Bihar hill men on the Burmese front. Since VJ day
he has been working with the Government of Assam as special Officer for Planning and develop-

“Mr. Brown says in a letter. “I saw far greater results from my missionary labours while in the army
than I have seen elsewhere during my term in India. During my first year in the Army I had about
700 Indian Christians under my command, and for the remaining three years they numbered about
400. early all the non Christian aborigines who joined us became Christians while they were with
the unit. o special evangelical campaign was necessary to obtain these results. They were the
direct result of living with Christian men of their own community”
(Contact, Magazine of the Baptist Bible Class Movement)

On his return to New Zealand, Royston took up the pastorate at Murrays Bay Baptist Church,
Auckland followed by Wellington Central. He left that church to go into prison chaplaincy, and then
served as Superintendent of Boys Homes at Invercargill and Waikeria. On his retirement he attended
Avondale Baptist, Auckland where he remained a member until his death. His wife Anne
predeceased him and he is survived by their three children.

[8] A/1778 Button, K A (Ken), Signalman RZVR. Ken Button
lived at 18 Henry Street, Avondale where his father, Arthur was a
popular local postman and tomato grower. Ken, Connie, and
Marjorie were foundation scholars of the Avondale Baptist Sunday
School which had opened in May 1926. Connie was a foundation
teacher and the late Iris Fearon remembers her with affection, and
how she received a penny from “Miss Button” for being a good girl.
A scroll with the names of all the foundation pupils and staff hung on
the wall for many years but has now gone.

Ken was born on 22 August 1918 at Auckland. He went to Avondale
Primary School and later attended Seddon Memorial Technical
College, Wellesley Street, now a part of AUT. He was a sports
loving boy and played rugby for Suburbs. Following his schooling

Signalman Ken Button.

he became an electrical worker with the
firm of Turnbull and Jones who were
prominent contractors at the time. He
was proud of his little Austin 7 car
which cost him the princely sum of
twenty pounds.

In February 1938 he joined the “Royal
Naval Volunteer Reserve (New Zea-
land Division) Official Number A1778
HM Transport SS Aquitania — Took so many of our men over-

and in December that year qualified as Ordinary Signalman visual
(referred to as a ‘bunting tosser” due to the fact they used sema-
phore flags).

With the outbreak of hostilities against Germany, Ken, along with
all gapona Reservists, was mobilised and prior to going overseas
he served at the shore bases at Philomel and the examination
battery at Narrow Neck

On the 2nd May 1940 in pouring rain, he sailed from Wellington
along with the RNVR detachment on the Troopship Aquitania.
They formed part of the convoy of the second Echelon, which in-
cluded the first of the 28 Maori Battalion men to serve overseas.

HMS Orion — Plymouth?

For the next twelve months he served as a signal-
man on Victory shore station and was then drafted
to Chatham prior to joining one hundred and fifty
other New Zealanders aboard the “Orion” class
cruiser HMS eptune.
The New Zealanders were ecstatic at joining
eptune as she was destined to join the New
Zealand station, but on 31 May 1941 she sailed
from the Clyde, not bound for New Zealand but for
the Mediterranean where Allied forces were being
pummelled by the Germans on land, sea, and air.

British Naval forces had catastrophic losses in the
Mediterranean, the Battleship Barham being torpe-
doed and blowing up with no survivors; the
remaining battleships disabled at Alexandria by
Italian frogmen.

Now it was eptune’s turn. On 19 December 1941
at 0106 hours while searching for an Italian con-
voy off the coast of Tripoli, eptune and the
accompanying destroyer force blundered into an
Italian minefield. eptune was badly damaged on
RZVR contingent leaving Papakura the bow but two further mines destroyed her stern.

The Cruiser Aurora and the
destroyers Penelope and
Kandahar were also hit by
mines, Kandahar being so
badly damaged she had to be
scuttled. A fourth explosion
ripped open the side of 
eptune and she lay on her
side and sank at 0400 hours.
Those who survived the sink-
ing quickly succumbed to the
heavy sea that was running
and the intense cold. At sun-
rise on Christmas Eve 1941
AB John Walton was picked
out of the sea by an Italian Signalman Ken Button of “The Three Musketeers”
destroyer, the only survivor
from eptune. One hundred and fifty New Zealand sailors had gone down with their ship, Ken
Button amongst them.

Like lots of young men going off to war, Ken was going with a girl who met someone else but he
bore no ill will, and like so many others he developed a close bond between shipmates and in corre-
spondence referred to himself as one of “The Three Musketeers”.

I have maintained contact with Marjorie McIntosh, Ken’s sister, who attended our Sunday school. In
the course of correspondence, I received a letter from the Rev. Les Arnold, who was also at
Avondale Church. He advised that Ken was his cousin. Other naval contacts include Nixie Taverner,
whose father, Rory O’Connor, was captain of the eptune; and the late Jack Harker who wrote
Almost HMZS eptune, 1991 .

[9] Z425190 Fearon M C (Murray) Flt Lt RZAF,
was a Foundation Scholar of our Sunday school and lived
at 83 Blockhouse Bay Road. Murray was educated at
Avondale Primary and Mt Albert Grammar School. He
applied to join the Air Force October 1941 but from
3 March 1942 served as a gunner in 22nd Light AA regi-
ment 94th battery (Bofors 40mm) at Narrow Neck and
Whenuapai prior to being accepted into the RNZAF on
30 May 1942.
He carried out his initial training at Rotorua and Levin.
On 2 October 1942 he embarked for training at Portage la
Prairie, Halifax, Canada, joining No 7 AOS RCAF under
the Empire Air Training Scheme, and was gazetted Flying
Officer 5 September 1943.
On arrival in England he joined 75 operational squadron as
a navigator on 22 October 1943. 75 (New Zealand) Squad-
ron was equipped with Stirlings types 1 and 3 and later
Lancasters types 1 and 3. Murray did 34 missions (180
operational hours) over Germany and France.
“The ew Zealand Stirling Squadron was to play a promi-
nent part in the bomber offensive during 1943 and further
increase the reputation it had gained in the earlier years.
Flying under the apt motto, Ake Ake Kia Kaha – ‘For ever
and ever be strong’ – o. 75 was now led by Wing Com- Flgt Lieutenant Murray Fearon
mander Lane, an Englishman with considerable experi-
ence in bombing operations. His flight commanders were Squadron Leader Allcock, a ew Zea-
lander who had joined the Royal Air Force before the outbreak of war and served in the Middle East
before returning to win further distinction with a Stirling squadron, and Squadron Leader Fowler of
Chellaston, Derbyshire, who had previously completed his first tour of operations with o. 75
Squadron. During 1943 just over 300 ew Zealanders, aircrew and ground staff, served with the
squadron.” (ew Zealanders with the Royal Air Force Vol.II, W/Cmndr H L Thompson, 1956]
Following his tour of duty he became a radar instructor (H2S) from August 1944 until October 1945
He was gazetted Flight Lieutenant 5 March 1945 and demobilised 3 March 1946.
He married Iris Hieatt and they were both members of the church at the time of writing. Murray is
well remembered for his magnificent tenor voice, his love of music, and his many years of dedication
as choirmaster. Along with his
brother David, he ran Fearon’s
Butchery on the corner of
Rosebank and Great North
Roads for many years. This is
now a money lenders, but the
name ”Fearon’s Building” is still
clearly visible along the façade.

Flgt Lieutenant Murray Fearon
(seated, right)

(Left) Flak over Le Havre, France

(Right) “Hi Ho Silver!”
Murray Fearon, centre

75 Squadron & Lancaster

[10] 25601. Guptill, A C (Arthur), Pvte. 4th Field
Regiment. Born 10 February 1915. Arthur lived at 9
Karaka Street Newton and worked at Mason & Porters as
a “Duco (paint) Sprayer”. Embarked for Egypt 27 August
1940 and attached to 4th Field Regiment RHQ, Egypt.
While in Egypt he was fined 15 shillings and forfeited
three days pay for being absent without leave! March
1941 he embarked to join “Lustre Force” the ill-fated
attempt to help the Greeks. He was reported as “Missing
in Action” 18 May 1941, but had been captured 20 April
and held at Salonika until 25 June when he was trans-
ferred through Yugoslavia to Stalag XVIIIA Ardning,
Austria. Confirmed as POW No. 4280, he spent the next
four years as a prison labourer until released by allied
forces in June 1945. Discharged from the Army
26 October 1945, Arthur married Joyce Hancox, who was
a foundation pupil of the Sunday School. Ces Jackman
was their groomsman. Arthur had a carrying business in
Auckland until his death on 12 August 1965.
Copy of extract from diary written Christmas Day
“Most of us thought that Christmas Day 1941 might
possibly be the last Christmas in captivity, but as the year
1942 spent itself, it looked as though Christmas would
once again be spent in captivity. As far back as the
beginning of ovember we started our preparations. Last Arthur Guptill & Ces Jackman
year 15 of us gathered together, pooling our Red Cross
parcels. This year Colin Crass and Paki Jones suggested that all the room 3 should be in the Christ-
mas feast, all agreed and were as one in the preparations. A committee consisting of P. Jones, C.
Crass, J. Brown, and C. McCullough were left to make the final preparations.
“It was also decided to hold a Christmas day service this year, the writer being asked to conduct a
short service. The preparation of a suitable message was no easy job in such a situation. Extra days
were worked so that we would be off for four days at Christmas. The collection of food from the Red
Cross parcels consisted of currants, raisins, apricots, apples, chocolate, meats, vegetables, Yorkshire
puddings, and other luxuries. On the Thursday, Christmas Eve, preparations in earnest started.
P. Jones and C. Crass concentrating on the table decorations and the food side. R. Rophia and
J. Taylor, with other helpers, in decorating the tree and room, all of which looked very well when
finished. Christmas day turned out to be quite a good day. All were busy in the morning making
final arrangements.
By the time all was finished including the decorations, room 3 was perhaps the best set out. At 10.30
am the simple service was held. “Lead Kindly Light” was the opening hymn, the reading, Philippians
2 verses 5-11, and the closing hymn being “Silent ight.” Quite a few expressed their thanks for the
Service. After the Service, dinner was prepared and served at 1 o‘clock. What a feed for a Prisoner
of War! Bully meat loaf, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, baked beans were the first course, followed by
a homemade plum pudding. Before the commencement of the meal, grace was offered by the writer.
All left the table full and the good things on the table were hardly touched. Such a spread would not
be seen in the homes of the Jerrys. The 21 met again for tea, but few with a big appetite! In the
evening a concert was held, followed by supper.
Thoughts Thanks again to the Red Cross for supplying parcels for another Christmas treat. As we
thought and hoped last year that this will be the last year in captivity, this time the prospects look
brighter. 1943 What?” (Letter supplied by Mrs. Joyce Guptill)

[11] 26181 Jackman, C F (Ces), S/Sgnt. Mid.
2nd Mobile Dental Unit. Sailed with the 3rd Echelon
27 August 1940. Was with the 2nd Mobile Dental
Unit and left for Greece from Alexandria on 30 June
1940. The unit experienced numerous difficulties
with Command and the bulk of the Unit was
captured with all their equipment. Ces was captured
18 May 1941. In discussion with Burt Turley he felt
that they were led directly into German hands by a
Military Policeman directing traffic. In afterthought
he is now convinced the “Military Policeman” was
in fact German. Like so many other New Zealanders
captured, he was first shipped to Salonikia, and then
onto Stalag XVIIIA where he spent most of his time
as a prisoner until May 1944.

“While the loss of the Dental Units in Greece
affected the service in the Western Desert, it proved
a blessing for those held prisoner as so many ew
Zealand Soldiers had false teeth, and in some in-
stances, the hard “Biscuit” issued to the troops
Sergeant Ces Jackman made it very difficult for these soldiers who had
damaged or broken dental plates to obtain any sustenance whatsoever” (The ew Zealand Dental
Services, Thomas Vernon Anson, Dept. of Internal Affairs, 1960)

For his work in the camps Cecil was Mentioned in Dispatches (London Gazette CR 655 4 March
1946). The New Zealanders had the unenviable reputation of some of the worst teeth of any of the
combatants in the war. His brother Maurice and sister Vera all served in the Armed Forces. Ces was
a Life Boy Leader. He eventually settled in the United States where he married, and continued to
maintain correspondence with Burt Turley.

[12] A/1850. Jackman, M. (Maurice) AB RZVR. The Jackmans lived at 41 Methuen Road,
Avondale. Maurice served in the RNZNVR prior to hostilities and on 2 May 1940 in pouring rain he
sailed from Wellington with the RNZNVR detachment on the Aquitania, which formed one of the
transports of the Second Echelon (as did Ken Button and Arthur Guptil). Maurice served on HMS
Douglas, a destroyer attached to the Home Fleet followed by transfer to Motor Launch 1028, origi-
nally based on the Isle of Bute,
Scotland. This boat and crew even-
tually served in the Mediterranean
theatre. Maurice was fortunate that
he missed out on being drafted to
HMS eptune. He would have
been devastated at the time on
missing out on the draft that would
have returned him home to New
Zealand. (See “Almost HMZS
eptune” by Jack Harker). He did
not return to the church following
the war, and I have no information
to date on his service record. At
the time of writing he lives at

Ces, Vera & Maurice Jackman

(Above) Vera Jackman far right. “J Force” Japan.

[13] 809603 Jackman, V (Vera) Sgt WAAC. Vera joined
the WAACs 12 October 1942 and after initial training
served at Western Springs on predictors for the 3.7 AA Bat-
tery stationed there. When the threat of air raids had abated,
she was transferred to 9th Coastal Artillery battery at
Motutapu Island (the remains of these installations are visi-
(Above) Ces Jackman in Greece
ble to this day). She then served on the examination 9th
Battery at Narrow Neck on a searchlight unit, and following
hostilities she went to Japan with “J” Force. At the time of writing Vera lives in Tauranga and kept in
touch with Tresna Miller (Horrie’s wife). Vera was engaged to Ian Leahy who was killed in Ceylon
as the result of a flying accident. During the war years Vera loyally wrote regularly to all those from
the church who were serving overseas and is remembered with affection by all who knew her.

[14] 450907 Knaggs, I W (Ian). Pvte. 21 Battalion. Born at Auckland 22 November 1922. The
family lived at 1904 Great North Road, Avondale (now is a second hand car yard adjacent to the
shopping centre). Ian attended Mt. Albert Grammar School and Auckland University where he
studied for a BSc in botany and chemistry. While still a student, he entered the military camp at
Bombay, South Auckland on 3 December 1941 and was originally allocated to 2nd Artillery Battery,
but as he was an accomplished cornet player, he was quickly transferred to the band. This was
followed in the early months of 1944 by a period of Manpower service, harvesting at Te Aroha and
Waimate. This was a period when men were sent to assist essential industries, especially food
production etc. In March 1944 he again entered camp at Papakura, then on 29 June 1944 he
embarked on HMT84 with the 12th Reinforcements, arriving in Egypt in August. Here, following a
period of infantry training, he embarked from Port Said for Italy in October. He served initially in the
5th Field Ambulance and finished the war at the 3rd General Hospital, Italy, as a stretcher bearer. This
would indicate that he continued to be attached to a band as bandsmen traditionally were recognized
as “stretcher bearers” prior to returning to New Zealand. He was discharged from the army on 7 April
1946; a long and eventful period of service. On his return he married Emerald and they had two boys.
Ian is remembered as a bugle instructor at Boys Brigade, thus sharing his musical ability.

He took up his studies again at Auckland University following his discharge from the army and
obtained his MSc in science and chemistry and while studying for his doctorate he also was
employed as a part time lecturer. He never completed his doctorate but worked for Hellaby’s freezing
works as an industrial chemist. He then had a successful glasshouse business growing tomatoes. This
was followed by a smaller enterprise growing flowers from whence he retired with Emerald to

(Above) O/S Maurice Jackman
(Below) HMS Douglas, Home Fleet

H M Motor Launch 1028. Mediterranean?

[15] Z404031 Leahy I S (Ian) Flt Lt RZAF. Born
Mt Eden 17 November 1917. Lived at 8 Hillside Cres-
cent, Mt Eden. Ian was a professional photographer. At
the age of seventeen he applied to become an air cadet,
and I have his beautifully written application letter from
November 1934. He applied to join the RNZAF
November 1939 and was enlisted eleven months later in
October 1940 when he joined the initial training wing at
Levin. He embarked for Canada in December of that
year on the Aorangi to continue his training at London,
Ontario, under the Empire Air Training Scheme. On
1 June 1941 with the acting rank of Flight Lieutenant he
proceeded to No1 “M” Deport, Debert, for embarkation
to the UK.

He arrived at Bournemouth on 16 July. He continued
training until joining No 22 Operational Squadron. On
7 January 1942 the Squadron proceeded to West Kirby,
Cheshire for embarkation to India.

Ian was killed with all members of the crew in a flying
accident on Saturday 13 February 1943. The Beaufort
Flght Lietutenant Ian Leahy W6543 was a Mark 1 version fitted with the notorious
Bristol Taurus VI engines, but the inquiry did not lay the
blame there. Ian is buried at Colombo (Kanatte) General Cemetery, Sri Lanka, in plot 6C Row C
grave 22. I have the full report of the inquiry into this accident and have extensive information about
Ian’s war record. Ian was engaged to Vera Jackman at the time of his death.

“Much was expected of the British-made
Bristol Beaufort, the first example of which
went to 22 Squadron at Thornley Island near
Portsmouth in 1939. The Beaufort proved,
however, to be a demanding aircraft to fly, and
its Taurus engines were notoriously unreliable,
seldom delivering their promised power. Many
of the new aircraft were soon wrecked in
accidents, many of them the result of engine
failures. The bomber was based on the earlier
Blenheim design. The Beaufort was heavier,
and carried a crew of four. It was the standard
torpedo bomber from 1940 to 43 and was
never considered a successful design. The
Beaufort was also produced in Australia where
they were fitted with the more powerful and
reliable Pratt & Whitney twin wasp engines.
The Australians had some notable successes
using these aircraft in action against the Japa-
(“Business in Great Waters”, The U Boat wars
1916-45, J A Terraine, 1989)

Flght Lieutenant Ian Leahy

Bristol Beaufort. Possibly RAAF with Pratt & Whitney engines. More
reliable than the Tanus engines on W6543. (Photo: RZAF Museum)

(Left) Crew of Beaufort W6543. Flight Lieutenant Ian
Leahy far right. All killed.

Flght Lieutenant Ian Leahy, right

[16] Mcaughton (Tony) He was in the Air force, but I have no record of his military service.
Tony had a PhD. in education and went on to become Principal of Ardmore Teachers Training

[17] Miller E A. (Ted) was Horrie’s brother. An unfortunate coincidence: the file on Edward Arthur
Miller, cabinetmaker does not seem to be the same person from the Church Roll and his service
remains unverified to date. Ted apparently served in the Pa-
cific and his first wife, Billie, died of pneumonia while he
was overseas. He was manpowered back to New Zealand
and spent the war years in the construction of locally built
Harbour Defence motor launches and Fairmiles. He mar-
ried his second wife Pearl in 1945 and opened his own furni-
ture factory “High grade Furniture” at Mt Albert. His brother
Horrie also worked here as a French polisher. Unfortunately
fire destroyed the factory and Ted never appears to have re-
covered from the loss. He died on 2 February 1999.

[18] 36139 Miller H. (Horrie) Pte. 5th Field Ambulance
Horrie was born at Whangaruru, North Auckland on
9 February 1912. Following school he worked as a packer for
the Precision Engi-
neering Company.
He lived at 22 Car-
rington Street, Wel-
lington. He was cap-
tured in the Middle
East December
1941 (see K Baker
and G Bright also
Horrie Miller (right) and friend.
captured December
1941) and was repatriated to New Zealand August 1943. As
a repatriated serviceman he was no longer able to serve over-
seas on active service and was assigned to the No 1 Hospital
Ship Maunganui and served on her until discharged in Sep-
tember 1946. Following his discharge he worked for his
brother’s company
“Higrade Furniture Ltd”
in Mt Albert as a French
polisher. Horrie polished
and stained numerous
items in the church which
bore hallmarks of his
Horrie was married to Horrie Miller and friend.
Tresna whose first
husband, Bryce Parsons, had been killed on active service Horrie
remained a member of the church at Avondale until his death in
March 1992

RZHS Maungonui

[19] 70876 Parsons R B. (Bryce) Pte. 36th Battalion.
Born at Auckland 29 February 1920, he lived with his family
at 30 Weston Avenue Mt Albert. Following schooling he
worked for Ross & Glendinning Ltd as a warehouseman
prior to enlisting. Bryce signed on January 1941 and after
training at Trentham he was posted to 36 Battalion “B Force”
Fiji, January 1942. He served with 8th Brigade H/Q Company
recon. Platoon. While on duty patrol between Navua and Se-
rua on the evening of 30th June 1942. Pte. Parsons driving
Beaverette No 45 (armoured car) and was crushed due to the

Bryce Parsons under training.

vehicle overturning because of road subsidence.
He died at the scene at 2355 hours. The Court
of Inquiry, which included Lieutenant Jack
Marshal, (future Prime Minister) attached no
Beaverette—armoured car similar to that driven by
Bryce Parsons when he died. blame to any of the crew Bryce is buried at the
Suva Military Cemetery grave 13.187. Bryce
and Tresna were married 26 October 1940 and Raewyn (now Raewyn Garwood) was only three
months old. Bryce never saw his daughter. The 7th Auckland Boys Brigade Company remembered
Bryce by the introduction of “The Parsons Memorial Shield” acknowledging those obtaining the
Kings badge.

In Memory of
Private Raymond Bryce Parsons
70876, who died age 22
On Tuesday 30 June 1942
Private Parsons, Son of Reginald Fredrick and Hazel
Florence Parsons
Husband of Tresna Lyle Parsons, of Mt Albert, Auckland,
ew Zealand.
Remembered with Honour
Suva Military Cemetery
[20] 24343 Turley B C (Burt) Lt. 23rd Battalion. Burt
entered Papakura Camp 15 May 1940. In November the same
year he was posted as a sergeant to a training Battalion that
shipped to Fiji as a precaution against Japan entering the war.
In May 1941 Burt returned to New Zealand, and in July he
sailed on the Aquatania as part of the third echelon and joined
the remnants of the New Zealand forces that survived Greece
and Crete at Maadi Camp.

There preparations and training were undertaken for future
campaigns in the Western Desert. In November 1941 the Brit-
ish 8th Army (including the New Zealand Division) launched Sgt. Burt Turley
the “Crusader” offensive aimed at restoring British positions

lost in the earlier campaigns.
Burt was posted to 18 Battalion. In January 1942 the New
Zealand Division moved to the Lebanon where it stayed
until the German breakthrough in June that drove the 8th
Army back to the Egyptian border. The New Zealanders
were sent immediately into action at Mersa Matruth. At
Ruweisat Ridge the New Zealanders were overwhelmed
by enemy armour and Burt was wounded in the left arm
during the general retreat. This was a disastrous time for
the New Zealand Division with large numbers killed and
others being taken as prisoners of war. Blame for this
debacle rested in part to the timidity of Lumsden’s 1st
Armoured Division who refused to join the fight. The
Burt Turley, Officer Training Course, Italy
morale of the NZ Division was badly affected by these
and other reverses in the desert war.

Following his convalescence, he was assigned to 24 Battalion as a troop sergeant with the anti tank
gun platoon, in September 1942. The New Zealand Division was now in reserve and preparing for
Montgomery’s offensive at El Alamein.

The battle of El Alamein commenced with a tremendous artillery barrage 9 pm 23 October 1942.
Soon after the breakthrough Burt contracted hepatitis, and did not rejoin the Battalion until after
Christmas when they were just south of Benghazi. Twelve months after being rushed back from the
Lebanon and fighting from El Alamein to Tunisia, North Africa was finally in Allied hands, and the
New Zealand Division prepared for its move to Italy.

Shortly after arriving back in Cairo, Burt was selected for officer training, and after spending ten
days leave in Palestine with his brother Os, he commenced training at Acre, Palestine. He sailed
from Alexandria to join the 21st Battalion, which had been in Italy since October 1943. Burt took
over a platoon at the Sangro river crossing, and was with the Division when it was transferred to the
American 5th army at the Rapido River, Casino. During the fight for the town of Casino Burt was
wounded for the second time with a bullet in the right shoulder, which also ploughed through the
flesh of his back before exiting.

Following his admission to the hospital at Caserta, he convalesced in Sorrento, in the Bay of Naples
and later rejoined the Battalion and spent some time as Liaison Officer with the Polish Brigade
followed by his appointment as 21st Battalion liaison officer with 5th Brigade Headquarters. Burt
continued with the Battalion into Northern Italy, and prior to the end of the Italian campaign he was
to return to New Zealand for three months leave. This was in February 1945 and the war in Europe
finished while he was in New Zealand

Extract from 21 Battalion War History
At the Rapido River prior to the Monte Casino battles February 1944. “Half an hour after midnight
Battalion Headquarters was electrified by a phone call from Major Abbott. Enemy surrounded his
company headquarters. The house was a typical farm dwelling built of stone. Company headquar-
ters occupied one room and the Italian family the other. Outside, there was a sentry at each end of
the building, while inside Abbott, and 2nd Lieutenant Turley were studying various routes to the river.
Which Turley had just returned from examining.

Sergeant Babe and his two-man patrol reported that they had tied in with the left flanking troops,
and then left to get some sleep. Babe returned to see about something, when a couple of shots were
heard and he went outside to investigate. He walked right on top of a German who dropped a
grenade and then darted around a corner. Babe kicked the grenade away and suffered shock and
only minor splinters when it exploded.

Major Abbott identified himself over the phone by using his Christian name, Brian, and one of the
Germans called out “Brian come and surrender” He declined the invitation!
Between phone calls to the forward platoon to come and
chase the Germans away, Abbott exchanged fire
through the door and shuttered windows It was a case
of stalemate, the German patrol was outside and could
not enter nor could the Headquarters emerge out into
the moonlight. The Germans resolved the impasse by
leaving before relief arrived. The serious aspect of the
encounter now alerted the Germans to the presence of
the ew Zealanders at the river as the two men of
Babe’s patrol and one of the sentries was missing. The
other sentry was found hiding with the Italian family!

[21] 66250 Turley O E (Os) S/Sgt 6th Field Regiment.
Born 12 February 1913. Customs Clerk. Address, 48 St
Georges Road Avondale. Os enlisted 12 December
1940, entered camp at Waiouru and trained as a gunner.
He was attached to the 38th Battery 12th Field Regiment
(25 pounders) and on 12 September sailed on H.M.T 31
for the Middle East. He arrived in Egypt 19 October and
after desert training was in action in the Middle East. He
was wounded in the right arm in action on 4 August
1942 while serving in the 6th Field Regiment. He
returned from hospital and continued to serve in the
Os & Burt Turley. Egypt?
Middle East and then saw action in Italy from October
1943 until the
close of hostilities in Europe. On his return to New Zealand
in September 1945 he married Olive Hutchings at the
Avondale Church on 27 October that year,. He was
discharged from the Army on 22 April 1946 and died on 6
April 1972 after distinguished service to the church and the
Baptist denomination

[22] 63232 Trigg G M
(Gordon) Pvte. 2nd Mobile
Dental Unit. Gordon was
born on 21 July 1914 and
lived at 1704 Great North
Road Avondale. Prior to
entering the army he was a
printer with NZ Newspapers
Ltd. He entered Papakura
camp on 12 June 1940 and
was at Ngarauwhaia and
Trentham before returning to
Papakura prior to embarka-
tion on HMT J26 as part of
the 2nd NZEF 5th Reinforcements He was attached to 2nd composite
Dental Hospital, Egypt. He forfeited four days pay for neglect of
duty 29 October 1941, but he soon made this up by being appointed
as cook with an extra daily allowance of 2/6. He served in the West-
ern Desert and Italy as a cook with the 2nd Mobile Dental Section.
Private Gordon Trigg

He returned to New Zealand on 20 February 1945 and was discharged on the 30th of the following
month still with the rank of Private! He married Olive Rackham on 19 May that year . Gordon was
the Boys Brigade Captain when I joined the Company in 1949. Olive was Norm Rackham’s sister,
and Captain of the Girls Brigade. She died a number of years before Gordon who married again. He
died on 4 June 1986.

Marriage party, Pvte Gordon Trigg. On his left eil Barker,
far right Burt Turley.

[23] Z404974 Watts R G (Ron) S/Ldr mid[2] RZAF. Ron was born at Auckland 11 March
1916, his home address 18 Woodward Road Mt Albert. His parents were long time members at
Avondale, and his father served as treasurer for a number of years. Ron went farming in the Waikato
following high school and entered the Air Force at Levin December 1940. In March 1941 he
embarked for Canada where he trained under the Empire flight training scheme before being trans-
ferred to the United Kingdom. Prior to joining No.488 (RNZAF) night fighter squadron he had flown
Hurricanes, Spitfires, Blenheims, and Beaufighters. By the time Ron joined the Squadron in 1943, it
was equipped with Mosquito fighters. He was based in the south of England and then on the
continent until the end of hostilities. Ron was promoted to Wing Commander 1944 and eighteen
months after joining the Squadron, he commanded it. He was gazetted Squadron Leader (Temp)
22 January 1945 He returned to farming following hostilities and lived at Hamilton in later life.

“In September 1943 the Squadron secured its first victories when two enemy aircraft were destroyed
on the same night. They were shot down by Flight Lieutenant Gunn and Flight Lieutenant R.G.
Watts of Auckland. Unfortunately, Gunn, who had worked hard with the Squadron since its forma-
tion and who proved himself a most efficient pilot, also lost his life that night, for as he sent a
Heinkel III down in flames, its rear gunner, with a final burst hit him six times with machine gun
bullets. Meanwhile, Watts had sighted a Dornier 217. “We were patrolling off the South East
coast,” he said “when we sighted the Dornier and closed to within 500 feet. I gave a three second

burst, which struck the enemy aircraft on the starboard engine and the fuselage, causing debris to fly
off. The engine caught fire, and he went down towards the sea. He continued to burn on the water
for several minutes before sinking” (ew Zealanders in the Air War, A W Mitchell, 1945)

Others from our Church

Over the years others have joined our congregation who served in the war. Bert Whitten, our first
post war minister, was a prisoner of war in Germany and his widow, Jean, has kindly let me copy his
memoirs. I trust one day she will release them to a wider public. Chum and Murray Mcaughton:
Chum served in the WAAFs, and confided they were the best days of her life! Andy Grant was a D
Day veteran, landed in Normandy with the Glasgow Highlanders, HLI. Bert Slattery, Black Watch,
served in Burma in the 14th “Forgotten Army;” Jack Scott served in the Parachute Regiment on
Special Operations leading guerrilla forces in Greece. Eb Black, Harold Pinel, and Darryl Lowe all
served with the RNZAF in the Pacific on aircraft maintenance at Green Island, Guadalcanal and
Bougainville where Ventura Medium Bombers and Kittyhawks of New Zealand Squadrons were in
action. Captain Ted Parsons was with the Royal Marines.


I felt compelled to complete this summary of the war record of the above while there was still time.
Many people helped with information. To begin with there was a diffidence at asking questions and
just being “nosey” (some felt that way also) but this record is of historical importance to the church.
As confidence grew with encouragement, so the information flowed. Ken Button was first as he
served in the Navy and I had an empathy with that. Where to start? I wrote to all the “Buttons” listed
in the Auckland telephone directory. (There were not that many) and received a reply one way or
another from every one of them! That was a wonderful encouragement. A lady wrote a lovely letter
about her late husband who was also K Button, but was an Army Chaplain. Others had passed my
letter on, one of the recipients was Les Arnold, an ex Member of our Church and retired Baptist
Minister, indicating that Ken Button was his cousin. Then a phone call from Marjorie McIntosh,
Orewa: “You are looking for relatives of Ken Button, I am his sister”. What a wonderful experience
that turned out to be and we have been in contact ever since. There was a request in the RSA Review
for information regarding those who served on HMS eptune. It was Nixie Taverner, whose Father
Rory O’Connor was the Captain. This was followed by a visit to Jack Harker, author and naval histo-
rian, who wrote the book Almost HMZS eptune. Unfortunately Jack has recently passed away. The
staff at NZDF Personnel Archives, the Air Force, Army, and Navy Museums, Auckland War Memo-
rial Library all have been helpful in accommodating many requests. Originally NZDF Archives
graciously released files without charge, but alas that couldn’t last. My wife Jan patiently proof read
what must have been to her a rather tedious process. Lisa Truttman of the Avondale-Waterview
Historical Society has provide encouragement and practical help in preparing this information in a
readable format and assistance with publication.

No one approached has refused cooperation, even when it brings back sad and sometimes bitter
memories. But even with the best of intentions, regretfully it is not possible to complete the task. For
some, where to look? Without a service number it is difficult to obtain military records but the hope
is that someone reading these notes will be able to expand, edit, modify, or give a lead into further
research. In all events, the final records of these military personnel does not rest with man but with
his maker.

Tony Goodwin
4th July 2003