Armistice Day brings back memories of service

By Sonya Bateson

Attending Armistice Day celebrations at the Government Gardens brought back a lot of memories for John Bond.

Yesterday was the 94th anniversary of Armistice Day, the day World War I officially ended.

The Allies signed an armistice with Germany ending hostilities on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. A group of war veterans, including a contingent who served in World War II and their families, gathered to raise the New Zealand flag and remember those who dedicated their lives to serving their country.

World War II veteran Mr Bond said attending yesterday's service brought back a lot of memories. The 96-year-old served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and said he and the six members of his family gave a combined 26 years to the war.

"My father was in the Great War and he managed to get himself into World War II as well. All of my brothers were in the Air Force, my mother was in the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment)."

Mr Bond has lived with his wife in Rotorua for 45 years - and the couple are about to celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary.

Rotorua RSA president Peter Gallacher said Armistice Day was about the remembrance of past times and the sacrifices made by men that were our grandfathers and great-grandfathers, especially in brutal battles such as that in Passchendaele.

"It's great that we can get out and remember them. We had a great turn out and we invited the general public.

"Celebrating Armistice Day keeps to the fore what we must be thankful for."

Mr Gallacher said that on the cenotaph at the Government Gardens were 150 names of local veterans who served in World War I. He said there had been a resurgence in people attending both Armistice Day and Anzac Day ceremonies, something he was grateful for.

Also present at the ceremony were members of the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers who hold their AGM on Armistice Day. Members come to Rotorua for three days for the AGM - including Ross Read, who stood in front of the cenotaph bearing the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers flag for the duration of the ceremony.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay said he was a big supporter of the RSA and it was extremely important that everybody remembers those who sacrificed their lives and gave the most anybody could give to make New Zealand the place it is today.

"Having had family members a long time ago who served on behalf of New Zealand, that's the reason I come and bring my sons."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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