Anzac Day services across Otago
Not many civilians can say they have fired off a 25-pounder field gun.
Dressed in period costume, and feeling both nervous and proud, Helen Zonneveld got the honour of firing off two gun salutes in front of thousands at the Anzac service in Alexandra.
Zonneveld’s father, Norman McGeorge of Alexandra, was the one meant to be sitting on the field gun but sadly passed away before he got the opportunity.
McGeorge, a K-Force gunner in the Korean War, was the secretary, welfare officer and patron of the Alexandra Returned Services Association and had been the oldest gunner in Central Otago up until his recent death.
Zonneveld said she had been chosen to take her father’s place behind the gun as she was the oldest of three daughters.
‘‘I feel very privileged to stand in for my dad.’’
Her dad knew before he died he had been chosen to fire the salute at this year’s special Anzac service marking the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign, she said.
His other daughter from Christchurch had travelled to Alexandra to join Zonneveld and her family, and their mother, for the service.
Alexandra RSA member John Tilleyshort said to be given the job of firing the field gun was a special honour. A piper is backgrounded by 88 crosses remembering soldiers from the Wakatipu who died in WWI at the Queenstown dawn service.
‘‘There would not be very many civilians in New Zealand who could say they have fired a 25-pounder.’’
Tilleyshort, with Brian Donaldson and Alan Pratley, were responsible for resurrecting the field gun into working order.
The gun could fire from about Alexandra to Clyde, he said.
This year’s Anzac service was made extra memorable for the crowd with two fly-overs by a warplane which fired shots into the sky.
A lot of effort went into other services around Central Otago. At Bannockburn a special feature was the re-enactment of the Otago Mounted Rifles Brigade. Richard
Helen Zonneveld prepares to fire a salute in honour of her late father Norman McGeorge who was meant to be firing the field gun at the Anzac service in Alexandra. She is pictured with (from left) Alan Pratley, Brian Donaldson and John Tilleyshort who restored the decommissioned gun.
Dawn at Lake Hawea on Anzac Day.