War veteran Phil Buscomb remembers serving as a rifleman during World War Two but it's only now that he's been presented with his war medals – 67 years later.
Mr Buscomb joined the army at the age of 20 and spent a total of three years overseas in Tonga, Fiji, Guadalcanal, New Caledonia and the Treasury Islands.
The 91-year-old recalls Japanese bombings, injured friends, spending nights camped out while under fire and being attacked by mosquitoes, but since returning home in 1944 he resumed a life of farming and never applied for his medals.
"I don't know why – I suppose other jokers needed to apply too," he says. "Time went on and I guess you're less likely to come across the idea of applying."
Mr Buscomb's friend, New Zealand Army Major Syd Dewes, applied on his behalf and on Anzac Day last week Mr Buscomb was finally presented with five medals during a service at the Ranfurly Veterans Home in Three Kings.
This includes the Pacific Star, the 1939-1945 Star, the Defence Medal, the War Medal 1939-1945 and the NZ War Service Medal.
The old man never applied for his medals, despite the urging from us as kids (we even found his original application forms) He reckoned, if it was good enough for him to go and fight and end up with a broken neck, he shouldn't have to apply for his own sodding medals!
Post by corsair5517 on Aug 19, 2012 9:18:21 GMT 12
My father never applied for his, either; all he got was a ribbon from the Pacific Star, which I now carry as a lucky token! I applied for his medals when I was working at Wigram, and Alan Polaschek who was the medal curator there was kind enough to mount them for me. Alan also gave me a rev-up -rightly so!- when I carelessly said that were "just campaign medals"; I was firmly told that they were, in fact, a record of a very young mans service in the face of the enemy!
The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese
I met a chap, a Mr Crispin, who asked me if I could get him his WW2 medals from the UK. He was a Royal Engineer, or "ginger beer" as he put it, and had initially served with the Desert Rats in Libya, then was transferred to Italy where he finished the war. He didn't get home to England until 1946 having been away almost four years!
When I asked him why he hadn't been issued with his original medals, he said "There was a bloody queue and I wasn't about to stand in another one". I got them and had them mounted and handed them over. The look on his face is what wonderful memories are made of!
I've read that one of the reasons that so many veterans never applied for their medals was because memories of what they experienced during the war was still so raw for them, and receiving the medals would have only brought the memories back to the surface for them.
Post by ngatimozart on Aug 19, 2012 17:53:42 GMT 12
My dad never got his medals until 1981 when I went & got the forms from the medals people at Def HQ and mailed them to him. He signed them and sent them back, I took the forms downstairs and the medals were ready to send away to him. He never wore them (died Jan 85) leaving them in the their envelope. They have been only worn once when my grandson wore them on the last Dawn Parade in Cathedral Square, ChCh, in 2010. I don't really know why he never got around to claiming them and even after he did get them never wearing them but never missed a Dawn Parade. I have my own gong for service but my dads medals mean a lot more to me and my grandkids wear them with pride keeping his memory and the memory of all Kiwis who served in WW2 & other wars alive and honour them at the same time. My dads medals are a taonga that stays within the family.