When war and sport mixed

Kapi-Mana News - - ANZAC - By MO­HAM­MAD NAZAYER

A 1944 Em­pire Day cel­e­bra­tion pro­gramme would have been just an­other piece of Welling­ton res­i­dent Peter Jack’s large sports mem­o­ra­bilia col­lec­tion, but for two spe­cial names in its pages.

The names be­long to two Welling­ton sol­diers, Cor­po­ral Colin Dickie and Squadron Leader Cae­sar Co­hen, who par­tic­i­pated in the World War II event at the El Alamein ground in Cairo, Egypt.

Mr Jack said he had col­lected such pro­grammes for years, and when he got this one he flicked through its pages, just as he did when­ever he ac­quired such an item.

‘‘I have pro­grammes from 1924 up to 2000. They are rub­bish to some peo­ple, but to me this one has a story.’’

Colin Dickie was al­ready a well­known Welling­ton ath­lete when he left to serve in the Mid­dle East.

‘‘He was a top mid­dle-dis­tance run­ner, and he knew my fa­ther well. A hell of a nice guy,’’ Mr Jack said. ‘‘He told me one day when I was a child that he ac­tu­ally won a cup dur­ing his ser­vice time over­seas and I am think­ing that it was this day and this mile race that he was awarded a cup for.

‘‘I re­mem­ber he told me that dodg­ing bul­lets and run­ning away from them made him fast.’’

When Dickie re­turned home from the war, he de­voted much of his time to sup­port­ing sport.

‘‘He worked as a starter in all the races sum­mer and win­ter from 1950 to nearly 2000, in­clud­ing the Vos­seler Shield moun­tain races and the Mcevedy Shield.

‘‘He started at the Com­mon­wealth Games in Christchurch in 1974 and even went to the Los An­ge­les Olympics in 1984.’’

Dickie, who worked for the city coun­cil as a drafts­man, was the driver be­hind the build­ing of the ath­letic track at New­town sta­dium and Kil­birnie’s swim­ming pool, Jack said.

Cae­sar Co­hen served along­side Mr Jack’s fa­ther.

In the pro­gramme, he is listed as Squadron Leader A S Co­hen, RAF, and is named as one of the El Alamein club com­mit­tee.

‘‘He was a guy who was al­ways smil­ing and quick-wit­ted. He was a great phi­lan­thropist.’’

Af­ter Mr Co­hen re­turned home, he helped many re­turned sol­diers who wanted to start busi­nesses.

‘‘He was very sym­pa­thetic to them and helped put for­mer All Blacks like Char­lie Sax­ton, Ponty Reid and Bob Scott into the re­tail cloth­ing busi­nesses.

‘‘He felt that they had done their ser­vice for the coun­try and wanted to help them.’’

Mr Co­hen was pres­i­dent of the Welling­ton Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion and the Cen­tu­ri­ons Rugby Foot­ball Club, and was a life mem­ber of univer­sity rugby and cricket clubs.

Well de­served: Colonel Howard Duffy, cen­tre, with fa­ther-and-son New Zealand De­fence Ser­vice Medal re­cip­i­ents Ian and An­drew Mckie.

Photo: MO­HAM­MAD NAZAYER

Col­lec­tor’s item: Peter Jack with the his­tor­i­cal ath­let­ics pro­gramme.

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