Side by side in war, peace and remembrance

Veterans' families gather at olive grove

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 08:55 04/08/2014
Dave Weir
HEATHER SIMPSON/FAIRFAX NZ
PROUD MEMORY: Steve Healy son of the late veteran Noel Healy, beside the memorial plaque for his father, Noel Healy, in Burleigh Memorial Olive Grove, Blenheim.
Dave Weir
HEATHER SIMPSON/FAIRFAX NZ
BELOVED SPOT: Vernette Sargeant and Eisha Marsh, daughter and great-granddaughter respectively of Vern Anderson, at a dedication service in Burleigh Memorial Olive Grove.

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Two Marlborough veterans whose 71-year friendship encompassed war and peace have been remembered in the beloved olive grove they helped plant.

The families of Noel Healy and Vern Anderson gathered at Burleigh Memorial Olive Grove on Saturday for a plaque placement and dedication ceremony.

Both men were members of Marlborough Returned Services' Association. In 1995 they planted the olive grove to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Comrade Peter Callahan said the plaques marked the men's significant contribution to the RSA.

"It is fitting that their memorial plaques are side by side, as they were side by side in war and peace throughout their lives," Callahan said.

Healy and Anderson met through their shared interest in motorcycling. They both served in World War II, Healy in the 10th light armoured vehicle division as a tank driver, and Anderson as a soldier in the Nelson Marlborough and West Coast region infantry, both based at the Delta. They both served in Trieste, Italy.

Marlborough RSA president John Forrest described the men as his "fathers from Marlborough".

Both were born in 1923 and died two years apart, in October 2011 and 2013.

Marlborough RSA Padre Terry Terrill said he met Healy in 1962 when he ran a panelbeating business in Scott St, Blenheim.

"He had a happy disposition and loved a good laugh. He took the mickey at every opportunity.

"I will never forget I was going to get a blood test and I shared my concerns about having a needle stuck in my arm.

"He looked at me like I was a wuss. He reached out and pulled my hair for a few seconds and said that was the most trauma I was about to experience."

Terrill said Anderson was the "font of all knowledge".

"He often joked he only went into the army to get a rifle," Terrill said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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