The Timaru Herald

Hon­our for wartime work

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A hum­ble war veteran, who for 50 years was a Geral­dine GP, has been recog­nised for the top-se­cret work he per­formed for the United States dur­ing World War II.

Dr Alan Roberts, 91, started a sci­ence de­gree in 1940 at Can­ter­bury Univer­sity Col­lege and ended up in the Pa­cific as a ‘‘sol­dier sci­en­tist’’, a civil­ian trained in the use of radar work­ing with the Al­lies.

Though pro­fess­ing he ‘‘never held a gun in my life’’, Dr Roberts was awarded a Mil­i­tary Cross for brav­ery af­ter be­ing shot in Peleliu when he went to help an in­jured US col­league.

It is a ‘‘bit of non­sense’’ though, ac­cord­ing to Dr Roberts, who says many men did what he did and were not recog­nised.

Af­ter be­ing in­jured, he wound up on a US hospi­tal ship go­ing to the United States.

Half­way there, the ship had to turn around be­cause it was be­ing fol­lowed by Ja­panese sub­marines and Dr Roberts found his way back to New Zealand via Noumea.

He trained in medicine in Dunedin and met his wife, Beatrice, to whom he is still mar­ried 62 years later. Af­ter he re­tired the cou­ple moved to Christchur­ch.

As the radar work was con­sid­ered top se­cret at the time, Dr Roberts’ con­tri­bu­tion was never ac­knowl­edged.

But in June 2012 the US Marine Corps Forces Pa­cific Band vis­ited New Zealand to cel­e­brate the 70th an­niver­sary of US forces ar­riv­ing in New Zealand. Dr Roberts and his wife were in­vited to a cel­e­bra­tion at Wi­gram Air Force Mu­seum.

At the event, he was pre­sented with a com­mem­o­ra­tive medal­lion in recog­ni­tion of his involvemen­t with the US marines. Mrs Roberts said it was an ‘‘ex­cit­ing evening for a pair of oldies’’.

 ?? Photo: FAIRFAX NZ ?? Mem­o­ries: Dr Alan Roberts re­calls his time in the Pa­cific in World War II as a radar ex­pert work­ing with United States al­lies.
Photo: FAIRFAX NZ Mem­o­ries: Dr Alan Roberts re­calls his time in the Pa­cific in World War II as a radar ex­pert work­ing with United States al­lies.

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