Sharing war stories with a prince
A 93-year-old war veteran from Picton hopes to share some of his old war stories with the royal couple when they visit Blenheim next week, including how he served in the same fleet as Prince William's grandfather.
There will be nothing stopping George Jones, MID, from bending the ear of William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, as he has been granted a front row seat at Seymour Square on Thursday.
He is one of 100 Marlborough returned servicemen and women to represent New Zealand at the ceremony.
Jones served in the Royal Navy, and along with William's grandfather, Prince Philip, was in the Mediterranean Fleet in 1940.
He said he felt a connection with the young royals.
The war veteran, who had progressively lost his sight after returning from the war, attended ANZAC Day celebrations each year.
Thursday would be extra special, ahead of the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of World War I, he said.
"I went to every ANZAC Day to remember those boys because it's for them, ANZAC Day . . . and [next week] is actually going to be for them," he said.
His sight had been affected by macro-degeneration, caused by looking into the sun.
Jones said this occurred while looking to the sky in the Red Sea for dropping bombs.
"Everyday we were bombed, either in harbour or when we had the convoys . . . all the time we convoyed up the Red Sea and we were attacked every day, we never lost a ship," he said.
He became MID, or mentioned in dispatches, after saving the life of a crew member who fell overboard and could not swim.
A soldier mentioned in dispatches was one whose name appeared on an official report written by a superior officer and sent to the high command, in which it described the soldier's brave action.
Mr Jones was extremely proud to have served in the navy, and believed New Zealand was "very lucky" to be a part of the commonwealth.
The Marlborough Express