Grandson to visit scene of war stories

HARRY PEARL
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014
Roger Laybourn Gallipoli
MARK TAYLOR/ Fairfax NZ
FAMILY TIES: Roger Laybourn, with photos of his grandparents, at the Cenotaph Memorial Park, holding photos of his grandparents.

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Roger Laybourn was gripped by his grandfather's stories about Gallipoli as a boy - and now he's been given a chance to visit the scene of the famous World War I campaign.

The Hamilton barrister is one of 62 Waikato residents who have been given the chance to attend the ceremony marking the centenary of the Gallipoli landings in Turkey.

The Government received 9851 eligible applications for the Gallipoli 2015 ballot, with the names of the 1900 successful applicants released on Monday.

Laybourn said Anzac Day and Gallipoli had always been important to his family and he couldn't resist the opportunity to enter the ballot.

His grandfather, Archibald "Archie" Johnston, fought at Gallipoli and then went on to fight on the Somme.

"It will be a lovely way to acknowledge my granddad companions and those that couldn't come back," he said.

Just 2000 places were available to New Zealanders, after the Turkish Government set a limit of 10,500 to attend the centenary services on April 25, 2015.

A total of 950 double passes were issued, with 100 special passes held back from the ballot to be issued to youth and other representatives later.

Laybourn will travel to Turkey with his wife, Bronwen, but said it would be a "family journey". "Being there will be an incredible experience and a lovely tribute, not just for me but to my wider family, to a very important grandfather."

Laybourn said his grandfather, known as "Pop" to family, returned to New Zealand with a Scottish wife after fighting at Gallipoli and the Somme.

He died in 1995, aged 99, after spending the last 40 years of his life in Hamilton.

Laybourn said his grandfather, who was an active member of the Hamilton RSA, would speak about his war experience and the significance of those who sacrificed their lives.

"I think we all grew up understanding that very clearly and I think that is what motivates me to acknowledge where it really happened."

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- Waikato Times

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