WW2 veteran and NZ's oldest first-class cricketer dies in Rangiora aged 100

Alan Burgess (right) at the Rangiora RSA in 2012. Photo: Kurt Bayer
Alan Burgess (right) at the Rangiora RSA in 2012. Photo: Kurt Bayer
One of New Zealand's last surviving World War II veterans has died.

Former first-class cricketer and tank driver Alan Burgess died in Rangiora last night.

He was 100.

There will be a minute's silence at the New Zealand versus Pakistan cricket Test match at Hagley Oval today to mark his death.

Burgess was born in Sydenham, Christchurch, in 1920, the son of Thomas Wills Burgess and Vera Adelaide Eldridge.

His father was a World War I veteran and a top cricket umpire who stood in one Test match, New Zealand vs England in 1933.

Burgess and his sister Rona grew up in Linwood, attending Phillipstown School alongside future All Blacks great Fred Allen.

He was an apprentice upholsterer after leaving school but sports were his passion.

In December 1940, with war raging in Europe, the 20-year-old Burgess made his first-class cricket debut against Otago, his left-arm spin taking 6 for 52 and 3 for 51.

He joined the Army when he turned 21 and was soon posted overseas.

He served in Egypt and Italy as a driver in the Tank Brigade of the 20th Battalion, fighting at the bloody Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944.

His tank commander was legendary New Zealand cricketer Martin Donnelly, whom he admired enormously.

After his war ended, he toured England with the New Zealand Services team through the English summer of 1945 as a batsman and played at Lord's among other top grounds.

After the war, he played nine more matches for Canterbury.

He became New Zealand's oldest living first-class cricketer when Tom Pritchard died in August 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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