Having a ball at 100thbirthday
‘‘A fine lady!’’
That was how Ted Morgan reacted to receiving his card from the Queen. Ted turned 100 last Wednesday, with Queen Elizabeth and the governor-general among his wellwishers.
The World War II vet and resident at Brightwater Rest Home is reasonably hale, but profoundly deaf. Fortunately, his son Ian is able to relate significant parts of his story.
Among these is the revelation that all his life Ted knew himself as Edwy, and it caused some consternation when he applied for a passport 15 or so years ago for a trip to Australia to learn that the name on his birth certificate was actually Edward.
‘‘He’s pretty adamant that they are wrong,’’ Ian says.
Born to Welsh parents in Napier on July 22, 1915, Ted was on a sheep farm in Wairoa when World War II broke out. In the 19th Armoured Regiment, he saw service in Egypt, Italy and Crete.
‘‘He was one of the ones who got off Crete,’’ Ian says. ‘‘He escaped in a fishing boat at night.’’
More than 2000 New Zealanders were left behind following the German invasion of the island in 1941, to be captured and incarcerated – most for the rest of the war.
‘‘He was one of the ones who got off Crete. He escaped in a fishing boat at night’’ Ian Morgan, son
A Sherman tank driver, Ted got shot up a couple of times, faring better though than others inside the tank who, his son adds grimly, weren’t so lucky.
In Italy one of the highpoints was discovering a bricked-up wine cellar and enjoying those particular spoils of war.
Back home, Ted worked on the Waikaremoana hydro project and the Rimutaka Tunnel, before returning to farming at Himatangi. In the 60s, he moved to Palmerston North and worked for the Railways.
A keen fisherman, duckshooter and gardener he also enjoyed indoor bowls. Ted has two sons and two daughters, six grandchildren and six greatgrandchildren, and has survived two wives, Margery and Ruth, marrying Ruth at age 80. He has lived the last 10 years on his own, moving into Brightwater in February 2014, where he is the rest home’s oldest resident.
A birthday party was held at the weekend with about 30 guests and, says Ian, Ted ‘‘had a ball’’.
With his card from the Queen, Ted Morgan is ready for the 100th birthday celebrations to begin.