Original Post: 25 April 2006

This is my ANZAC Day trib­ute post­ing. ANZAC Day means a great deal for me and my fam­ily. I sup­pose it is because we have a con­nec­tion to the orig­i­nal ANZACS in 1915 and Gal­lipoli and to a vet­eran of a war much fresher in our minds, Viet Nam.

Firstly I pay trib­ute to my Great Grand-father Harry Crozier. I never really knew him, he died many years ago. Harry served in the  Gal­lipoli cam­paign and thank­fully came home alive albeit with one leg. I know he spent con­sid­er­able time in Rotorua con­va­lesc­ing and learned to carve maori carv­ings as part of his reha­bil­i­ta­tion.

The sec­ond per­son I pay trib­ute to is a guy who truly epit­o­mises the ANZAC spirit. He is an Aussie, liv­ing in New Zealand who fought for new Zealand in Viet Nam. He is mar­ried to a Kiwi and has three Kiwi kids, and three Kiwi grand kids. He is also my Father-in-law.

41873 Gnr Atkins KG 161 Bty was in Viet Nam in 1966. Based in Nui Dat and one of the first to arrive and estab­lish the Base and gun posi­tions. “Oz” par­tic­i­pated in the famous  Bat­tle of Long Tan where the Kiwi guns were instru­men­tal in sav­ing 3 pla­toons of D Com­pany of the  6th Bat­tal­ion, Royal Aus­tralian Reg­i­ment (6RAR) and enabling the thrash­ing of a Reg­i­ment of Viet Cong.

Each gun fired over 1200 rounds that day and night in sup­port of the Aussies. The bat­tle was fought in a rub­ber tree plan­ta­tion near the vil­lage of Long Tan, about 40 km north-east of Vung Tau, South Viet­nam on August 18–19, 1966. The bat­tle was fought all after­noon and most of the night in pour­ing mon­soon rain. The guns ran so hot that wet blan­kets were draped over them in an attempt to keep the bar­rels cool.

Kevin tells many sto­ries of his time in Viet Nam but they are not at all “warry” to use his term. They speak a sim­ple truth that war is tough and bru­tal. He often says he hopes his chil­dren never have to go to war and thank­fully they prob­a­bly won’t have to.

It seems so long ago, yet for some only yes­ter­day. The Gov­ern­ment to this day still treats vet­er­ans with dis­dain with their han­dling, and obfus­ca­tion of the Agent Orange scan­dal. I say a scan­dal because that is what it is. You need only ask any vet­eran about Agent Orange and they will tell you they weren’t just sprayed with they were doused in it, they drank water soaked with it and were often wet to their socks with Agent Orange. Check out this photo of Nui Dat in 1966 . Every coun­try in Viet Nam at the time has acknowl­edged it hap­pened and com­pen­sated their vet­er­ans and New Zealand con­tin­ues to deny it occurred and con­tin­ues to hold spu­ri­ous enquiries. [The Government has since said Sorry, but for me it was too little, too late]

Kevin didn’t want me to write any­thing about him but I insisted. He didn’t want me to make him out to be a hero. In his words he was there, he was a gun­ner and that was all. Like most vet­er­ans he is intensely proud of his achieve­ments and at the same time intensely bit­ter at the way they were treated upon return­ing. It is high time that Kiwis were proud of what our guys did in Viet Nam, proud of their achieve­ments and proud of their for­ti­tude to fight. I admire any­one who has the gump­tion to stand up and be counted with their own life.

My Father-in-Law is a true ANZAC, some­one I am proud to know and love. I admire his achieve­ments. I fondly remem­ber the ANZAC Day we spent in Syd­ney 11 years ago. Aus­tralians cel­e­brate ANZAC Day, Kiwis com­mem­o­rate it. In Syd­ney on that day Kevin was proud to wear his medals and com­fort­able wear­ing them in the street. Syd­ney was one big party that day and we ate and drank pretty much for free where ever we went. Kids and adults alike pat­ted him on the back and shook his hand and called out “good on ya mate”. The pity is that the same can­not be said of New Zealand. ANZAC Day is treated as a solemn occa­sion. Peo­ple do show their respects and con­tinue to show it by the increased atten­dances at parades all over the coun­try, but is “respects” as in at a funeral rather than respect as in admi­ra­tion.

It is high time New Zealand “cel­e­brated” the achieve­ments of our sol­diers and stopped “com­mem­o­rat­ing” them. ANZAC Day should be like it was in Syd­ney 11 years ago. It is cer­tainly a day I will not for­get.

A cou­ple of things remain for me to pass onto my chil­dren. They are vis­its to Gal­lipoli and to Viet Nam to show the kids where our rel­a­tives fought and shed blood so that they may never know war. Hope­fully they will never know war as other gen­er­a­tion have.

Lest we forget.


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  • jabba

    mm, don’t mention the war. My Grandad was in WW1 somewhere, God knows where. He died in the early 50’s just before I was born. All I know is that he is buried in the veterans cemetery in Aramoho in Wanganui and was in the Scottish Borderers and I have one of his medals.
    The old man said naff all, as in nothing, about the war but my sister has some brown and white photos of dead “opposition” soldiers in the Pacific. Glad they survived (being selfish here) as so many didn’t.

  • arnold

    Whale – agree with you a bit –
    well today was the 35 year my family has put poppies on the returned servicemen and womens graves at old Porirua cemetery. The youngest today is 4 and the eldest in mid 80’s – my dad is buried there, my uncle is buried in Germany, shot down in 1943, cousin killed escaping Japanese prisoner of war camp, grandfather WW1 didn’t die but was never the same – buried in New Plymouth, g-g-uncle killed xmas eve 1916 in France…yes i know them all, been going to dawn parades for over 40 years…I also had my kids at both Vietnam vets parades in wellington, holding up signs saying “thanks – job well done” and thank you and welcome home’ – I do not idolise war, but I respect those that put their lives on the line,some didn’t return and some were never the same – so to me Anzac day is my day for being a New Zealander, my day for remembering those of my family who paid the ultimate price and my day for saying “good on ya mate”

  • lesterpk

    I agree Whale, Aussie has ANZAC Day sorted. As a serviceman I have taken part in 3 ANZAC Days in Aussie, each one much more memorable than any I have been to in NZ. On my first one, to see crowds lining the street 4-5 deep, clapping and cheering, was something I will never forget.
    I parade for all those that came before me, but especially for my father and his brothers. My father was taken POW in Servia and spent 4 years as a POW, his brother was killed in Crete and is buried there. I try to instil in my own children the respect that these men earned with their blood. We owe them so much.