Central Plateau, North Island

Central Plateau, North Island
View from a friend's farm

Friday, 25 April 2014

We Will Remember Them


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.


Walter in Cornwall Park

Walter's Compass #1


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.

To Walter

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


Susan Heather said...

What a lovely story. Today brings back so many memories and thoughts.

TexWisGirl said...

what an awesome gift to a serviceman. and a very nice tribute for today.

Georgia said...

I have always admired the courage and self-reliance of my Australian and New Zealand friends. Thanks for being one of them!

Linda said...

Jean, what a lovely post...one that touches my heart deeply. Thank you so much for sharing.

Nicky said...

This is such a beautiful story, Walter is just the kind of man we pay tribute to today. Lest we Forget.

eileeninmd said...

What a lovely tribute! The quilt is beautiful! Have a happy weekend!

camp and cottage living said...

What a perfect gift for such a dedicated man.
You should feel very honored to have it in the museum.
And I bet Walter was so proud of
this wall hanging that you made for him in honor of his service.

Karen said...

What a lovely tribute to Walter.

Carol Mattingly said...

Such a wonderful he artful post.

Razzle Dazzle Quilter said...

Gosh, what a lovely story! I did wonder why the compass left the top of your blog. Nice to know it is being held in a place of honour.


Nancy's Notes said...

Beautiful and heartwarming post, Nancy.

Nancy's Notes said...

What a beautiful and heartwarming post, Nancy.

Jim said...

Jean, I am almost speechless.
This is a wonderful tribute to a good friend. I am sure Walter was thrilled to see that hanging in his room. What a beautiful quilt it is too! You must be so proud, as you ought to be.
I hope you had a wonderful ANZAC day.

Here I Am Carrie said...

What a beautiful tribute to Walter and a wonderful gift. Your quilting abilities are amazing and wonderful this one will be preserved for many to see. Well finally getting a bit into the routine of life back here. I wasn't going to do flowers or a big garden this year, but found myself for 4 hours in the greenhouse preparing for starting seeds. It felt so good. It is such a hard wonderful habit to break. So I will go with the flow for now. Always in my thought and prayers for both of you. Hugs Carrie

Michaele said...

This was a wonderful story. Once again you amaze me and so did the story of Walter. The quilt is super special. Not like any other I have seen. I love the words sent along with it.

KB Bear said...

That is a wonderful tribute to a very special man.

Terri @ Backward B Ranch said...

Beautiful story and a beautiful tribute to a great man.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

Fitting tribute.