Saturday, April 27, 2019

Thames (NZ): Sir Keith Park Memorial unveiled.

A very special day for Thames and New Zealand, a bronze statue of Sir Keith Park unveiled in a very special ceremony in front of the Thames War Memorial Civic Centre.

TV one News covered the event and a short bulletin can be seen online. There was also an article in the New Zealand Herald this morning.

Saturday 27 April 2019.
The morning started with a blessing of the Park statue, Then at 11am a very formal and dignified ceremony took place that started and ended with prayers and Karakia. The MC was Russell Skeet who introduced the dignitaries present - of whom there were many. There were members of the Hare family (relatives of the late Betty Hare who bequeathed the money for the statue) and Park family descendants.

The Day in photos: The photographs tell the story of the event, from opening ceremony to the closing lecture given by Dr Claasen.

Left: The Statue ready for the big day. Right: Russell Skeet opens the ceremony.
Below: Defence Minister Ron Mark addressed those gathered.

The flyover was SPECTACULAR! No sooner had one group flown over, than a second group soared overhead, to honour Sir Keith Park.

Defence Minister Ron Mark and Wendy Hare, handed the honour of cutting the ribbon to two cadets.






ABOVE: Park family member recalled details on her Great Uncle Sir Keith Park.

LEFT: Wendy Hare spoke about her late Aunt Betty's bequest,  RIGHT: MP Scott Simpson.

MORNING TEA: A beautiful morning tea was laid on in the Supper Room, then everyone headed to the main auditorium for a special lecture by Dr Adam Claasen on the life of Sir Keith Park during World War One and Two. A powerful delivery that left no doubt that the boy from Thames made an unequalled impact on the outcome of World War Two during the Battle of Britain.

DR CLAASEN's lecture on Sir Keith Park. Below are some of the slides used in the presentation.

Keith Park World War One pilot and instructor.


 The presentation ended, with one member of the public winning a flight with the local aero club.

LEFT: Commander Guy Haywood, British Defence Force Attache, and MC Russell Skeet.  RIGHT: TCDC Board Member Sally Christie and Defence Minister Ron Mark.

Interpretive Board on the I-site wall, south of the new Sir Keith Park Memorial statue.

Thames boy - Sir Keith Park

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Thames (NZ): Lest We Forget 25 April 2019

Each passing 'ANZAC' year, I seem to start by saying that it was the biggest Dawn parade and service. Well, this year I wouldn't hesitate to say that the numbers were one of the largest gatherings. While a few hundred waited at the Mary Street intersect, the parade from the RSA & Workingmen's Club was truly impressive.

DAWN SERVICE 6am Thursday 25 April 2019
The Thames RSA's theme for the Dawn Service was 'Youth' - ably led in the first instance by a young piper who played at the head of the parade. Reverend Wilkinson gave the address and the remembrance aspect of the occasion was discussed along with the history of the the Gallipoli landings. While praying for peace in our hearts and the world.




One thing is for sure, the sea of crosses continues to grow across the northern face of the RSA section of the cemetery. Remembering that there are hundreds of servicemen and women interred in other parts of the cemetery who go without a cross each do those interred at the other two cemeteries and urupa in the township of Thames.



The trees are growing well at the memorial forest - 247 trees to commemorate the men who lost their lives in WWI from the Thames District.

For the second time today, the people of Thames gathered to remember and commemorate. The numbers were possibly lower than at the Dawn service but still considerable.



Remembering the men and women who served and died in World War One - the Peace Memorial stands proudly above the town of Thames.



Background Reading and Further Information:
World War One ROH: Names of Thames Soldiers who were Killed or Died of Disease.
World War Two ROH: Names of Thamesites who were Killed or Died of Disease.
World War One Nurses & Doctors
The Maori Pioneers from the Thames area WWI (External link The Treasury)
Book: From Gold Mine to Firing Line - about Thames during World War One
Photographs of the graves / plaques for the Thames servicemen can be found at Findagrave - Tararu, Shortland and Totara Cemteries.

WWI Slideshow of the men from Thames who were Killed or Died as a result of the War.