Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 13 October 2011 Contents LOCAL NEWS
13 October, 2011 | Page 3
Four Southland men were part of an
emotional memorial service at the grave
site of fallen soldiers in Crete recently.
Maurice Lindsay, of Te Anau, Lawrence
McKerchar, of Castlerock, Val McKay, of
Tuatapere and Mervyn Gunn, of Myross
Bush, were members of the Pipes and
Drums of Christchurch City which had
been invited to take part in the inaugural
Crete Festival of Arts from September 25
until October 5, a pioneer project aimed
at showing the importance of Crete -- and
Greece in general -- as an international
cultural centre. Artists from 15 countries
were invited, the New Zealanders joining
three Canadian pipe bands and two brass
bands in street parades and performing
at the Crete International Tattoo in three
The Pipes and Drums of Christchurch City
draws its members from throughout the
country and was formed with the sole
purpose of attending tattoos and other such
events around the world. Mr Gunn and Mr
McKay, both pipers, have joined the band
on previous tours to Russia, Libya and
England. For Mr McKerchar, a piper, and Mr
Lindsay, the band's drum major, this was
their second trip with the band, the first the
tattoo at Windsor Castle, England last year.
While all of them enjoyed the opportunity
to take part in the cultural festival, by far
the highlight had been visiting the Souter
Bay war cemetery where some 1700 allied
soldiers from WWII are buried.
The Battle of Crete began on the morning
of May 20, 1941, when the Germans
launched the first mainly airborne invasion
in military history. Greek and Allied forces,
along with Cretan civilians, defended the
island in a battle that lasted about 10
days. Although the Germans also suffered
heavy casualties, they managed to fly
in reinforcements and overwhelm the
The band arrived at the cemetery in full
dress uniform, marched and played the
length of the cemetery before stopping for
a few words of remembrance by pipe major
Robin Loomes. Mr McKay recited the Ode
to the Fallen and Mr Gunn played a lament
as Mr Lindsay and Mr Loomes laid a wreath
that had been made by Mr McKay's wife
Helen and her sister Raylene Waddell, of
Stewart Island, who were also on the trip.
All of the band members then filed past the
cenotaph, placing Anzac poppies they had
brought from New Zealand.
Mr Lindsay said it was sobering to walk
among the gravestones of men, most only
in their 20s. Many of those buried are
"It was just a huge waste of life... but that's
war, isn't it," he said.
Mr McKay agreed: "I don't think there were
too many dry eyes when we walked out of
there. It's a very sobering place."
Mr McKay said he had gone in search
of Tuatapere men whose names he
recognised from the wall of the Tuatapere
RSA. He found the grave of Graham Carr,
of Pukemaori which was an emotional
moment. Mr McKerchar found the grave
of another Tuatapere soldier, William
McKerchar, whose great grandfather was
his own great great grandfather.
Emotional visit to Crete
Pipe Major Robin Loomes (left), of Christchurch and Drum Major Maurice Lindsay, of Te Anau,
march forward to lay a wreath at the Souter Bay war cemetery on Crete.
By Kirsty Macnicol
Drum Major Maurice Lindsay (front) with the Pipes and Drums of Christchurch City Pipe Band at the
Souter Bay war cemetery on Crete. Fellow Southlanders behind him are Val McKay, of Tuatapere
(left), Mervyn Gunn, of Myross Bush (second from left) and Lawrence McKerchar, of Castlerock
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