At ease men – Vet­er­ans sign off

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART

Af­ter 27 years of solid com­rade­ship, the Mata­mata branch of the King’s Em­pire Vet­er­ans has called it a day.

With num­bers dwin­dling to just three ac­tive mem­bers, the com­mit­tee made the tough de­ci­sion to dis­band.

Pres­i­dent Colin Whyte said they were dis­ap­pointed ef­forts to re­cruit more mem­bers had been un­suc­cess­ful.

‘‘It’s a very sad oc­ca­sion,’’ he said at the fi­nal meet­ing last Tues­day.

‘‘But we have had the hon­our of be­ing part of the only [re­turned and ser­vices as­so­ci­a­tion] that only al­lows men that have seen ac­tion in bat­tle.

‘‘ We are proud to have been King’s Em­pire Vet­er­ans and we are proud to have served our coun­try on the bat­tle­field.’’

Whyte served in the New Zealand Army Med­i­cal Corps for 22 years and was in­volved in con­flict in Malaya and Viet­nam.

He thanked the other re­main­ing mem­bers Bob Ches­sum and Fred Blank for their ser­vice and friend­ship over the years.

Ches­sum fought in World War II and also served as a Cap­tain of Ar­tillery in Korea. He was sec­re­tary of the club for 16 years and was ‘‘ loyal, com­pe­tent will­ing’’, said Whyte.

Blank, who first joined the King’s Em­pire Vet­er­ans in Tau­maranui three decades ago, was a ‘‘trea­sure chest of vast ex­pe­ri­ence, com­mon sense and sen­si­ble ad­vice’’.

He served in the New Zealand Army in World War II and was in­volved in the Bat­tle of Monte Cassino, one of the big­gest cam­paigns fought in Italy.

He was se­ri­ously wounded when he was hit by shrap­nel and spent three months in an army hospi­tal.

Blank said the group had been a source of com­pan­ion­ship and friend­ship.

‘‘We would yarn about old times,’’ he said.



‘‘It’s a dis­ap­point­ment to end it re­ally but it’s part of an era I sup­pose.’’

The fi­nal meet­ing was fol­lowed by a lunch, with fam­ily of past mem­bers in­vited to at­tend.

The King’s Em­pire Vet­er­ans As­so­ci­a­tion is a na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion es­tab­lished in 1900 by Lord Ran­furly for de­fence force vet­er­ans liv­ing in New Zealand.

Mem­bers must have been awarded a medal for serv­ing in a New Zealand de­fence force over­seas dur­ing a for­eign con­flict.

Last hur­rah: Back from left, Ila Cal­don, Colyn and Jean Whyte, Bob Ches­sum, Joyce Catch­pole and Amo Wanoa. Front from left, Fred Blank, Elaine Young and Beverly Ches­sum.

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