Returning to Cassino in 2004 helped Corporal Frank Bulling find closure to a chapter of wartime experience in his young life.
After two and a half years in Italy he had cemented his place in history, participating in the strategic battle which led to the fall of Cassino.
Over the years he rarely spoke of his life as New Zealand Army soldier 292867, his identification for the four years from 1941 when at the age of 18 he went off to Burnham camp for what he thought would be an exciting time.
In 1942 he trained at Waiouru before embarking overseas with the 18th ARMID Regiment.
He spent three months in Egypt before going to Italy.
With the war over Frank left Italy on January 24, 1946. It was to be nearly 60 years before he went back and found that closure.
Born in Kennington in 1921, Frank moved to Glenham at the age of 9. He lived there for 76 years, and would have stayed there until the end of his days had family members not persuaded him to move to the city nearer medical services. There was nothing he did not know about Glenham, nothing he did not love.
When he left Southland Technical College at the age of 16 he went to work with his dad at the Glenham piggery and stayed there till that army call-up two years later.
It was straight back to Glenham he went after the war, the following year with younger brother Morey in partnership taking over the Glenham grocery and butchery business from their parents.
With both brothers married, the business expanded to take in the Edendale butchery, trading under the name F & M Bulling Ltd, the name synonymous with good grocery industry until the 1990s.
Frank built a family boat in 1958. Glendale was his pride and joy, moored on Lake Manapouri. The family lived on the boat until 1963 when Frank, a handyman carpenter, built a crib in View St.
Frank Bulling was a big player in the successful Save Manapouri campaign. Appointed a justice of the peace in 1967, he made himself readily available to people. In 1972 Frank closed the Glenham store and bought R M McKays in Wyndham, then serving two terms on the Wyndham town board. Ten years later son Neil took over the business, giving his dad time to enjoy his hobbies, boating, fishing and gardening.
In 1985 Frank was given honorary life membership of the Southland grocery association.
A launch warden on Lake Manapouri for many years, he was secretary of the boating club for 20 years and was awarded life membership of it.
He is survived by his wife, Mary, their family, 19 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and by a host of older Southlanders who remember with nostalgia the day of the friendly family grocer, greengrocer and butcher who called for orders, delivered to the door, ran a tab and thought nothing of going the extra mile.
- The Southland Times