Veterans back from commemoration

Veterans (from left) Jim Quested, of Georgetown, North Otago, and Bill Roulston and Tom Dungey, both of Tapanui, outside Dunedin International Airport after returning from commemorations at Monte Cassino. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Veterans (from left) Jim Quested, of Georgetown, North Otago, and Bill Roulston and Tom Dungey, both of Tapanui, outside Dunedin International Airport after returning from commemorations at Monte Cassino. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Three Otago veterans have returned home once again with stories to tell from their time abroad.

Jim Quested (91), Bill Roulston (93) and Tom Dungey (92) arrived in Dunedin yesterday, after returning from the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino.

It was especially poignant for Tom Dungey, whose older brother, Jack, was killed at Cassino on March 18, 1944.

''I said a few quiet words ... and I left a poppy for each member of the family.''

After leaving New Zealand for the war, the two brothers never saw each other again as they were in different battalions.

''The highlight for me, after looking at Jack's grave, was looking down from the top of the monastery, down from the view that the Germans had of us.''

The Tapanui man, who celebrated his birthday during the trip, said another highlight was meeting Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Prince Harry.

Monte Cassino was one of the worst battles involving New Zealand troops in World War 2. Some 343 New Zealanders were killed and 1211 wounded in the 123-day battle, between January 17 and May 18, 1944.

Mr Roulston, also of Tapanui, said when he arrived on the grounds of the famous monastery - which was rebuilt after the war - ''you just can't recognise it''.

''It is nothing like when we were there.''

The trip ''couldn't be faulted ... but you needed to be fit''.

Mr Quested, of Georgetown in North Otago, was one of 10 veterans to come down with food poisoning, but stressed he was well looked after by support staff and recovered quickly.

He enjoyed catching up with old mates, and paying respects to those who did not make it home.

Alex McBurney (93), of Frankton, was also one of the 38 Cassino veterans to attend the commemorations.

-hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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