Post by Dave Homewood on Oct 26, 2009 21:33:48 GMT 12
Veteran, 95, travels around world for battalion's last reunion By MIKE CREAN - The Press Last updated 06:33 22/10/2009S
Randell Heron travelled halfway around the world to fight with 27 (Machinegun) Battalion in World War II.
Seventy years later, the 95-year-old veteran has flown back to attend the unit's final reunion and the handing over of its traditions and distinctions. These memorial items were yesterday placed in the custodianship of 2/1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment in a parade at Burnham Military Camp.
Heron was joined at the handover yesterday by old battalion mates Bob Le Vaillant and Bill Webb.
All three enlisted in 1939 and sailed with the First Echelon of New Zealand troops.
Temuka-born Heron served as a platoon sergeant in Greece and North Africa. He was captured by the Germans at Sidi Resegh and became a prisoner of war. He recalled the 10-week walk when the prison camp was emptied near the end of the war and the prisoners moved west, away from advancing Soviet armies.
After his evacuation to England, he married an Englishwoman. He returned to New Zealand in 1946 for discharge and medical treatment but, apart from several visits to family, has lived in Britain since.
The battalion was disbanded in 1948. Heron said he was proud to have been in it at its foundation and at the handover of its traditions and distinctions.