Can You Help Graeme

Hello all,
We have received the following email requesting any assistance we can provide.

Subject:Late Sidney Thomas WEST
Date:Wed, 8 Apr 2020 16:04:27 +1200

Good afternoon

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Graeme Harvey and I write from Dunedin. I am a member of the local RSA and a member of the local Kensington Garrison Club.  I was brought up as a child of a World War 2 returned soldier who later returned to regular force service between 1951 and 1959. We as a family lived in Burnham camp. I later completed 20 years Territorial Service with one five month deployment overseas.

From that you will see that I am reasonably knowledgeable in matters military. My family has always been community minded and as such, many know of my military affiliations.

Recently, a young friend I know [who is also very community minded[,  was working on renovations to a property in Dunedin. During his time there he found a medal, the 1914-15 star, with the above soldiers rank, initials and name imprinted on the reverse. The number on the medal is 12/2510.

I have researched Archives and found that this soldier  was born in 11 May 1889, came from Opotiki and worked for the Opotiki Dairy Association.

He commenced army duty on 13 Feb 1915 and was discharged on 5 Jul 1916.

He served in the Balkans [Gallipoli] 1915 and Egypt 1915-1916.

He had been wounded,  I believe on the Gallipoli peninsula and it looks like he was evacuated to Egypt and appears to have been injured again in Egypt and subsequently returned home.

His wife [nominated as next-of-kin] was Edith Emily West.

The young man who found the medal and I would like to return it to the family/whanau of the late Pte West. I have a contact in Dunedin who can replace the lost ribbon and court mount the medal.

I’m guessing that you as Secretary, are a local from the Opotiki area. Therefore [and now the questions]:

* Do you know of this soldier? He will be dead by now being born 1889 but given an average life span of say 70 years, that would take us through to 1959. There are always exceptions of course.

* Do you know of any families in the area with the “West” surname who may be related?

* There may be other families who do not have the ‘West’ surname who may be / are related?

* Do you know if this soldier returned to Opotiki after the war?

* Given the medal was found in a flat / apartment in Dunedin, it is more than possible it was given to a grandchild, nephew or niece. Have you any possible knowledge on any of these?

* Does anyone know where he and / or his wife are buried? And if by chance dates please?

On his papers held by National Archives, his address was shown to be amended to PO Box 15, Thames.

I have forwarded this information to the Opotiki RSA. I will also contact the Auckland and Dunedin RSA’s and see if they had Pte West as a member at any stage.

Any assistance you, or any locals who may know of the family or descendants, can provide will be very much appreciated.  

Kind regards, and looking to receiving your reply.

Graeme Harvey

Happy Hour Social

The Thames and Districts RSA is having a Happy Hour from 1600 on 20th July at the Thames Workingmens Club. Nibbles will be provided and it is hoped we get a very good turnout to this inaugural event. A good turn out will indicate to the committee that there is a need for RSA social events and it could become a regular event.

Hoping you can support your club by turning up at 1600 on the 20th July.


Students offering technical support

The students of Thames High School would like to
offer our help and experience with technology to
those in our community. This can include mobile
phones, computers, apps or anything else technical.

Check out our Facebook page “GreyTech Thames”
for more information


Annual RAF Bomber Command Memorial Service

Remembering those who served and gave their lives in Air Force Service

A formal service will be held in the Hall of Memories

Auckland War Memorial Museum

10.30 June 9 2019

This annual service is held throughout the Commonwealth

during June.

All those who served in the RNZAF, RAF and Allied Air Forces are invited to attend.

Medals shall be worn. Service veterans please make yourself known to the ATC ushers who will assist with seating.

There is under cover parking and lifts available.

Contact: P J Wheeler QSM, NZ Bomber Command Ass Exec Officer

Ph:09 416 5302 or


The 2019 Poppy Appeal and ANZAC Day are just around the corner. Here are the important dates and information on those events. We will update from time to time.

Poppy Appeal - Friday, 12th April
Placing Crosses at Cemetery - Saturday, 20th April
ANZAC Day - Thursday 25th April
                        Dawn Service - 0600 hrs.
                        Civic Service - 1000 hrs.

Poppy Appeal:
Poppy Appeal is on Friday April 12th and to help with collection for Poppy Day we are calling on all members to make themselves available to help. Please contact RSA Secretary, Allan Gamble, with your availability to collect on April 12th.  All is required is for one or two hours help, dress tidy with medals.

Times Available:
9am – 11am
11am – 1pm
1pm – 3pm

Please email with your preferred time slot and contact phone number.

We ask that volunteers be at the RSA 15 minutes prior to their scheduled time to pick up boxes of poppies.

Placing Crosses at Cemetery:
We will be placing crosses at the cemetery again this year.  Again, anyone who can spare an hour, starting at 1000 hrs. on Saturday 20th April, to help placing crosses on servicemen's & women's graves please let us know by emailing

Dawn Service
As is usual the Thames RSA will host the Dawn Service. Usual format, marchers assemble at the Thames RSA and, under Parade Marshall Bob Williams, at 0545 hrs. will march to the Civic Centre. Thames RSA Secretary officiating.

All are invited back to the Thames RSA for breakfast which will be served from 0630 hrs.  There is a gold coin Donation for breakfast.

Civic Service
As usual the Civic Service is the domain of TCDC and will be held at 1000 hrs. Parade to assemble at 0930-0945 hrs. on Pollen Street just north of the Pollen/Sealey Streets intersection. Parade Marshall will be Bob Williams. 

There will be advertisements placed in the Hauraki Herald about ANZAC Day services here and in the other outlying townships.  Check this website ANZAC parades & services and our Facebook page for further updates.

All are invited back to the Thames RSA which will be open for lunch from mid-day to reminisce and meet up with friends from far and wide.

AGM Meeting





SUNDAY 20 JANUARY 2019 1:30PM.






In conjunction with the Thames Workingmens Club we have procured the services of John to provide entertainment at the “ Workies” on the evening of Saturday 10 November. This is in conjunction with Steampunk the Thames.  The prices are as notated on the poster. If you wish to pay by internet then please utilise the following Internet address: This will take you to the Steampunk the Thames website which is set up for internet sales.  Cash sales can be procured from the Bar staff at the “ Workies”. 

If you are having difficulties with either then contact Jim McDonald on or 0274555193.

Remember this is a fundraiser for the Thames RSA and we will benefit from this evening.  John has been at the club before and was very well received and anybody that attended that evening would be prepared to be entertained again.

Armistice Day

This Armistice Day will mark 100 years since the war to end all wars was concluded. To mark this occasion there will be a ceremony conducted at the WW1 memorial, we have procured with assistance from the TCDC a flagpole which will be installed for this period. Steampunk will cease all celebrations at 11am for the short duration of the service.

We will provide transport to the Memorial from the Club in Cochrane Street and return, seating will be provided by the TCDC at the WW1 memorial. We will be able to transport people who need assistance and can transport wheelchairs and Walkers. This transport will commence running to the Memorial from 1030am on 11/11/18. The Restaurant at the club will also be open from completion of the service.


Click on the link below to open a poem by Gerald Taylor of Bucklands Beach, Auckland. Gerald was inspired to write a poem when he was in Australia just prior to ANZAC Day 2017. He was touched by the obvious care a young man was taking in tending the Memorial to troops at Manly Town Centre.

Gerald kindly sent us a copy of his poem to reflect on.


Anzac Day is a national day of commemoration observed on 25 April each year. It commemorates those who died serving New Zealand during war while honouring returned and current servicemen and women, past and present.

25 April marks the day in 1915 when Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landed at Gallipoli in Turkey, the site of New Zealand's first major battle of World War One with the loss of over 2,700 New Zealand soldiers.


For interest we have copied, below, David Sinton's address he gave at the Dawn Parade:


On the 15 th July 1915 the ship Willochra enters Wellington Harbour to a large crowd awaiting its arrival. On board are the first wounded back from Gallipoli, the first returned soldiers of WW1. A soldier that disembarks that day was Donald Simson, who quickly realizes the need for an association of returned soldiers and is instrumental in the formation of a number of local associations throughout the Country.

Simson calls a national meeting that establishes the NZ Returned Soldiers' Association on 28 th April 1916, one hundred years ago.

By 1920 the membership had swollen to 57,000 out of a returned soldier population of 80,000. The RSA quickly becomes an advocate for veterans as well as providing its own welfare services with the introduction of Poppy Day in 1922. 

At the same time as subscribing to memorials for the dead, the Public supports building club rooms for the living. The RSA successfully presses for ANZAC Day to be a public holiday in 1921, and develops a uniform service, based on a military funeral, to keep faith with dead comrades and their grieving families. 

In the 1990's the RSA entered a renaissance which exists to today. It reflects the growing interest of New Zealanders in their military heritage and a shift in attention from politics of war to remembering the human experience of war. 

At the time when WWII members are less able to take an active part, the baton is being taken up by the new generation of returned and service members, as well as a rapidly growing number of the new Associate members, all part of a vibrant nationwide organization. 

The needs for the RSA still exist today. The numbers of younger ex and present service personnel who have served in places like East Timor, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, will need the help of the RSA in the future, as did their forebears in the past. We need to be there for them. 

Our future lies not only in those I have just mentioned, but indeed in the young people represented here today as The Honour guard, and the bugler. The Honour guard comes from 37 Squadron, ATC, under the command of SQDN LDR Horn. We, as an RSA are deeply indebted to them for their willingness to attend in these capacities, and it is indeed wonderful to see young people, teenagers indeed, taking part in such a way today. Your bearing on parade, and your dress is a credit to you and your officers. 

Thank you sincerely, and you are invited back to the RSA for breakfast to continue to be a part of todays celebrations. 

To all those that have taken part in todays parade, thank you sincerely for being here this morning. 

The annual Poppy Appeal is the primary source of funds for the RSA's extensive provision of support services to the service community.

You don't have to be a member of an RSA to benefit from the Poppy Appeal assistance. Donations are used to support both current and ex-service men and women, including the NZ Police, and their dependents, living in the community where the funds are raised.

The Poppy reminds us of sacrifices made – both past and present - as they were the first flowers that grew in the battlefields of Flanders in Belgium during World War One and are a symbol of remembrance and hope.

The Poppy Day street collection is held each year on the Friday before Anzac Day. In 2017, we're getting our poppies ready for Friday April 21st. During the appeal, hard working RSA volunteers exchange distinctive red poppies for a donation to the Poppy Appeal. All funds raised go towards our vital support work, which can include financial support, advocacy, family days and access to strong network of people who have been through similar experiences, to name a few.

So please make whatever donation you can afford on Poppy Day. Your generosity enables us to continue what we do, both at a national and local RSA level.



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