Stories from the Horowhenua Chronicle archives feature in a new book to be launched by Adopt an Anzac on VJ Day.
Interviews with servicemen who came home after World War II, originally published in the paper, have enhanced the content of the book, which follows the format of research group's first book, Horowhenua and the Great War, 1914-1918 with photos and pen portraits of the men who died.
Remembering…Horowhenua and the Second World War also features stories from soldiers, sailors, airmen, nurses, prisoners of war, a war widow, a war orphan, WAACs, a Normandy veteran and home guards as well as the people who stayed behind and took care of things on the home front.
Among them is a POW, who was in hospital when Italy capitulated, who went to work with the partisans and spent the next two years blowing up bridges and even robbing a bank; a rear gunner on an RAF Wellington bomber who became a prisoner of war and made a model of a clipper ship, now displayed in the Levin RSA, which was smuggled out of the camp in the empty trouser leg of an amputee being repatriated; another POW survived the sinking of a ship transporting prisoners from North African battles to camps in Italy; a soldier who returned to Crete after the war as part of a body retrieval party; and a Post and Telegraph radio operator, a Coastwatcher in the islands, who was executed by the Japanese and whose work wasn't recognised until 72 years later.
Two of the people featured in the book, Nell Dowling and Tony Jones Snr will be at the launch.
Tony was a British war orphan who was reunited with his mother in England after 70 years apart, thanks to the efforts of Adopt an Anzac researcher Lorraine Wright who found her.
Nell was just 10 years old when the Battle of Arnhem in Holland in 1944 forced her family to flee their home and walk more than 200km to safety in the north of the country. Her memories of the long trek are still vivid.
A history of Horowhenua's memorial halls, men who received honours and awards during the war and four men who died in later conflicts – Vietnam, Malaya and Borneo – are also included.
"We are delighted to finally be launching our second book," said compiler Linda Fletcher.
"Our original intention was for it to be part of the Levin RSA's 100-year celebration last year, but that had to be delayed while we sought funding for publishing it.
Then after they received a grant from the Lottery Grants Board Environment and Heritage Fund the second launch date, VE Day in May, fell through when the printing was held up by Covid-19.
"August 15, 1945 was the day Imperial Japan surrendered, effectively ending World II, so it is a very appropriate date to be launching our book 75 years later."
Horowhenua and the Great War, 1914-1918 will also be available at the launch, with a discounted price if both volumes are purchased at the same time.
The launch is on Saturday August 15, at the Levin RSA at 2pm.