Members of the Dunedin Brevet Club (from left) Fraser Mitchell (92), Don MacKenzie (90) and Neville Selwood (90) catch up ahead of the final chapter in the club's history. Photo by Dan Hutchinson
Nothing can last forever, not the last of the summer wine
and not the Otago Brevet Club. Star reporters Jonathan
Chilton-Towle and Dan Hutchinson spoke to three of the six
remaining members about why they have decided to end the
The Otago Brevet Club plans to go out with a roar when it
wraps up with an event that will coincide with the 74th
anniversary of the Battle of Britain next month.
Brevet Club member Neville Selwood (90) said it was sad that
the club was ending. At its peak there had been 150 members
but now there were only six members left who had served in
World War 2. The club was open to anyone who had their air
force wings. The surviving members jokingly call themselves
''the last of the summer wine''.
''We decided it was time to wrap it up while there's a few of
us still alive,'' Mr Selwood said.
To mark the Brevet Club's final meeting on September 21, a
special dinner will be held at the Leviathan Hotel and 12
aircraft and a helicopter will fly over the city as a salute
to the remaining members. The final meeting will coincide
with the anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Organiser Paul Ward, who served in Vietnam as an air force
medic, said he was ''just helping these old guys out'' after
their incredible service in World War 2.
''It will be one of the better fly-pasts seen in Dunedin for
a while,'' he said.
Mr Ward had gained sponsorship from Pak'nSave for the dinner
and from Z Energy for fuel for the aircraft.
Mr Selwood said the Otago Brevet Club had been at a
disadvantage because there was no local air force base to
keep membership strong.
The group met three times per year at the Dunedin RSA
Clubrooms and at the Leviathan Hotel. The club had begun
after the war as the Prune Club. Pilot Officer Prune was the
Royal Air Force's symbol of incompetence. If there was a
wrong way to do anything, Prune would find it. A group of
pilots had wanted to commemorate his legend.
Later they decided they wanted to do something a bit more
serious and the Brevet Club began in 1952.
Mr Selwood did not join until the 1980s.
He knew of some former airmen who had not joined because they
did not want to remember the war, including at least one who
lived in Mosgiel.
Combat was hardly ever talked about; the group preferred to
focus on the good times they had.
Mr Selwood and fellow surviving club member Don MacKenzie
(90) had both served in No. 75 squadron and flown in
Lancaster bombers. Mr Selwood had been a navigator and Mr
MacKenzie a rear gunner.
Mr Selwood took part in 25 bombing missions, two food drops,
and three flights transporting rescued allied prisoners of
One of their proudest moments during the war was taking part
in Operation Manna, where British and American forces
air-dropped more than 11,000 tons of food into the
Nazi-occupied western Netherlands.
Fraser Mitchell (92) was a navigator in a Lockheed Ventura
aircraft in the Pacific.
The other three surviving Brevet club members are Frank Coory
(92), Gordon Parry (94) and Jack Roberston (98).
The other member of the group is Peter Laing, who had been
made an honorary member in recognition of his father David