Today in New Zealand, we remember our men and women who served overseas . ANZAC, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps . Memorial services are held throughout the country. This morning in Auckland, both the Australian and New Zealand National Anthems were sung, a tribute to both countries.
Today I remember my dear friend Walter, who left NZ in 1940 and began his training as a Naval Officer in Suffolk. He progressed through the ranks, from Ordinary Seaman, to Commanding Officer, HM ML 106 ( a motor launch), and then to Senior Officer of the 51st ML Flotilla. Walter had a bad stammer, and he was very aware of this. the group of some 15 cadets were under the command of a very Senior Petty Officer. The S.O. slipped the trawler from its berth, and began a manoeuvre to turn it, Part way through this, he turned to Walter and said, “ Drake, Take Over”.
Immediately Walter gave the commands, “ Starboard 15, Stop, Slow Astern”
He realised that he had given these commands without a stammer, and for him, a massive personal victory.
In 1944, he was awarded the DSC ( Distinguished Service Cross), for courage, skill and devotion to duty when in command of ML 106 on 34 mine laying operations. There were many more operations, either cancelled or aborted due to bad weather or mechanical failures.
Walter had a dream, to write a book about his time in HMS, but long time injuries as a result of those many hours on the bridge in freezing conditions, meant his health was not the best for some years. The title was to be “ Not To Yield” words taken from one of his favourite poems, Ulysses, by Lord Alfred Tennyson.
Walter was in Auckland Hospital for his 91st birthday. The staff on the “Merino Ward” were so helpful, I posted the parcel up some days earlier, and they gave it to him that morning, 4th March. The “ Mariner’s Compass” wall-hanging was then put on the wall in his room, and many staff came to give him birthday wishes, and comment on his gift.
Shortly after this, Walter passed away in his sleep, on 15th April, 2010 .His daughter, Kristine, sent the wall hanging to the Felixstowe Museum, where it hangs, together with many more naval memorabilia from those years. For me, this is the highest honour in my life, to know that a small part of my quilting will be there forever.
These were the words sent to Walter in 2010.
Happy 91st Birthday 4th March 2010
The Mariner’s Compass
Not sitting in the binnacle with the bridge just up above
No shouting down the voice pipe “Starboard 15. Stop Engines, Slow ahead”
A Mariner’s Compass in quilter’s terms, sewn with needle and with thread.
No swinging gimbal and no glass cover for salt spray protection
The four points, North, South, East and West, and others for direction.
Remembering those words; “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Quotation of the day, written by Pericles, ( 495- 429 B.C.)
Each has won a glorious grave -
not that sepulchre of earth wherein they lie, but the
living tomb of everlasting remembrance
wherein their glory is enshrined.
Greetings from Jean