During the world wars, our troops cherished any mail they received
from home, and in return, did whatever they could to reply to their families and loved ones. Postcards – some made from fine French silk, others on the backs of cigarette boxes – were the most popular mode
Today, our people deployed overseas send messages home by email, skype or good old-fashioned post.
Looking back to when I was 17 and undergoing initial training, I never would have dreamed that less then two years later, I would have already been to Australia, Samoa, Tonga and crossed the equator enroute to
Indonesia. The ship I'm currently serving on, HMNZS Canterbury, is back in Australia training and operating with the Australian Defence Force.
The exercise, named Sealion, is being conducted in the waters surrounding Townsville in eastern Australia.
It involves working alongside our Australian counterparts practising amphibious operations, beach landings and helicopter serials. It reminds me how important it is to maintain our RNZN skills so we can perform various tasks. Last September, when the tsunami hit Samoa and Tonga, the Canterbury was on hand to conduct landing craft and flying operations, bringing vital supplies and vehicles ashore as part of the relief effort. Being privileged enough to be there and actually help to clean up was easily one of my best life experiences.
During "Amphib Ops", not only do we provide a headquarters for several large Australian landing craft but we launch our own. As a
Seaman Combat Specialist, I'm a crew member of the landing craft, so often it means spending long days floating out in the ocean with
just the bare essentials. With a little love from our chefs (who make our lunch), and as long as Ordinary Seaman Combat Specialist Tonga
remembers to bring his guitar, it's always good fun.
Back on board the ship, on top of my usual day-to-day tasks like carrying out bridge-watches and rigid hull inflatable boat work, I am
also a loader/maintainer of Canterbury's main armament, the 25mm cannon, during action stations – just one more thing I can brag to my
civilian mates about.
A real highlight of this trip is the port visits we've had so far. These stops give the crew some rest and recreation to let off steam and spend some hard-earned cash on souvenirs. I treasure the touristy stuff you get to do with your good mates. I've enjoyed every moment of this trip, and my fellow crew members would agree that it's definitely not going to change any time soon.
Able Seaman Combat Specialist Jack Walters
Send us your messages and memories of loved ones who have served in past wars or to people currently serving in the armed forces.
You can also post a message directly in the Auckland War Memorial Museum's official Book of Remembrance.