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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Is your WOF due soon ?
Relax, and bring your car
down to the helpful team at
Drivesure Vehicle Testing.
We'll have you WOF'ed and
back on the road in no time.
FREE WOF reminders too!
WOF Testing Station
278 Great South Road
Fighting fit: Veteran Tom Ritchie, 96, is one of the last living members of the Long Range Desert Group, which served in World War II. He will be a guest of honour
in the Papakura's Freedom of the City Charter Parade this Saturday.
Photo: SIMON WATTS
Desert veteran on parade
By DUBBY HENRY
TOM Ritchie was surprised by the
Germans' kindness when he was
captured during World War II.
It didn't last long however -- he
and his fellow prisoners were
handed over to the Italians, who
stole their gear and kept them in
But Kiwi ingenuity and nerves of
steel led the prisoners to carry out a
daring escape, turning the tables on
the Italians and taking their guards
Such exploits were run-of-the-
mill for the Long Range Desert
Group, a special unit that did
reconnaissance and raids in the
Great Sand Sea'', a huge area of
desert in Egypt and Libya.
Mr Ritchie is now 96 and leading
a quieter life at Longford Park
Retirement Village in Takanini.
He's one of the last living
members of the group and is a guest
of honour at Saturday's Freedom of
the City Charter Parade in Papa-
The parade was last carried out
in 2005 and will be the final one of
It allows the Long Range Desert
Group to invoke its right to march
the streets with flags flying, drums
beating and bayonets fixed''.
The group was a key force in the
fight against the Italians and
Its members were renowned for
their skill in capturing trucks and
raiding enemy forts, taking crucial
supplies of food, water, fuel and
The group's sign was a scorpion,''
Mr Ritchie says.
He was a mechanic, driver, bar-
ber and rum-rationer.
If we were going into a serious
sort of place -- like a fort or some-
thing -- we'd have a good shot of
rum,'' he says.
But when out of danger the men
were a very relaxed bunch.
There was none of this saluting
this and saluting that.''
Driving in sand presented many
challenges, Mr Ritchie says.
You'd get speed up to get to the
top of a dune and there'd be nothing
on the other side and your truck
And in the monotonous desert,
the men had to make their own fun.
We'd get a big circle in the sand
and put petrol around it, and we'd
put a spider and a scorpion in it and
have bets on who was going to win,''
Mr Ritchie says.
Anzac Day Commemoration Services in Papakura and Franklin:
Dawn service: 6am at the
Cenotaph, corner Great South Rd
and Opaheke Rd, parade
assembles at 5.45am at the
Papakura Masonic Hall, corner
Wood and Duke streets.
Civic service: 9am at the Cenotaph,
corner Great South Rd and
Opaheke Rd, parade assembles at
8.30am at the police station in
Civic service: 11am at the Drury
War Memorial, Tui St, parade
assembles at 10.45am
at the Jolly Farmer and marches to
the Drury War Memorial.
Civic service: 10.15am at the
Clevedon Community Hall, parade
assembles at 9.30am at Clevedon
War Memorial for a short time of
remembrance and then marches
to the Clevedon Community
Civic service: 10.30am at the
Waiau Pa hall, Waiau Pa Rd.
Civic service: 11.15am at War
Memorial Hall, Victoria St, parade
assembles at 10.30am at the War
Memorial Hall and starts at
FREEDOM OF THE CITY PARADE
The Freedom of the City of
Papakura District Charter Parade
will be held from 10.30am-
12.30pm on Saturday.
The parade will assemble in
Coles Cres and march along Great
South Rd (from near the Queen St
intersection) up to towards the
courthouse, around the Wood St
roundabout and back down Great
South Rd to the Papakura council
Up to 20 World War II vehicles
will carry veterans' widows and
VIPs, including local MP Judith
Collins and veteran Pippa Doyle,
who in 1943 parachuted behind
German lines into France and
evaded capture until the end of the
Descendants of the NZ Special
Unit and Special Operations
Australia will also attend.
Cadets from the Highwire
Service Academy and Papakura
army base will march behind, with
the Whenuapai Air Force Band.
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