Soldiers 'disgraceful' on Anzac Day

By Nathan Crombie nathan.crombie@age.co.nz -
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The shattered remains of bottles of alcohol that soldiers were alleged to have dropped in Essex St outside the Wairarapa Services and Citizens Club in Masterton on Anzac Day. PHOTO/FACEBOOK
The shattered remains of bottles of alcohol that soldiers were alleged to have dropped in Essex St outside the Wairarapa Services and Citizens Club in Masterton on Anzac Day. PHOTO/FACEBOOK

The NZ Army is probing an allegation that uniformed soldiers were disorderly and "disgraceful" after drinking in Masterton on Anzac Day.

A Masterton father said he had watched uniformed men and women, believed to be serving in the 5th Movements Company based at Linton Army Camp, leaving the Wairarapa Services and Citizens Club in the town and boarding a bus about 4.30pm on Monday.

The man, who declined to be named, said he was shocked at the apparent drunkenness of the soldiers, who had dropped a box of glass-bottled alcohol onto the footpath while retrieving the drinks from the back of the bus.

"One of the jokers picked a bottle up and started skulling and all the smashed bottles were just left there. That's not the way you drink.

"They were pissed. It was an embarrassment, especially on Anzac Day.

"They were in uniform, so they were at work and that's a crime in the army isn't it? Imagine if we were like that at work.

It wasn't the sort of behaviour you'd expect from a rugby team. It was disgraceful."

Bill Hey, Wairarapa Services and Citizens Club president, said about 60 soldiers and officers from the 5th Movements Company had visited the club during Anzac Day commemorations and had behaved flawlessly.

He said a traditional gunfire breakfast was served to the soldiers, marching band, and club members before a third of the 5th Movements unit travelled to Tinui and another third to Greytown.

He said about 20 soldiers stayed on at the club in Essex St and were served lunch and "none of those soldiers in our club were drunk at all, they were all healthy and fine".

He said only one club member had been warned about their level of intoxication throughout the day.

He said the two military groups which travelled away had returned to the club in the late afternoon and the entire unit had boarded a bus parked in the street outside the premises.

The soldiers that travelled could have had a box of drinks with them "which we had no knowledge of, of course", he said.

The alcohol was not purchased at the club.

"I only cautioned one of our members who I thought had had enough to drink. The soldiers had even straightened their uniforms before they left the club and I was completely oblivious of any problems with that group as far as drunkenness is concerned for sure."

A New Zealand Defence Force representative is investigating the allegations and would make no further comment.

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