South Island WW2 vet dies aged 100

Duncan Robertson died late last month aged 100. Photo: Mountain Scene
Duncan Robertson died late last month aged 100. Photo: Mountain Scene
One of the Wakatipu’s last surviving World War 2 veterans, Duncan Robertson, has died aged 100.

Robertson, who died at Lakes District Hospital late last month, was the second local to make it to a century recently, after fellow veteran, the late Alex McBurney, reached the mark last June.

Mountain Scene understands that leaves Allan Fisher (96) as the Wakatipu’s sole surviving veteran of the conflict.

Scene last caught up with Duncan just before his birthday in January.

He hadn’t expected to live past last Christmas, and 100 years was a long time to be alive, he said.

‘‘I feel like I’m cheating some how’’.

Duncan lived in a cottage on his son’s farm at Speargrass Flat for the last 18 years of his life following the death of his wife, Margaret.

Determined to live independently, he did much of his own cooking and cleaning, and  tended a large garden.

Only a few weeks earlier, he’d been scolded by his son after being caught up a ladder cleaning his cottage’s spouting.

He spent two and a-half years with the 2nd New Zealand Division’s 18th Armoured Regiment in Italy, ending the war as a sergeant.

Driving armoured cars, often in a scouting role, he saw action at Cassino and other notable battles, and was injured twice when struck by shell fragments in the head and foot.

The experience, and the deaths of several school mates and fellow army trainees, had given him an acute sense of his mortality, he said.

‘‘I nearly lost my life in ’43 and ’44 … when I got back, I told myself, ‘I’ve come through a war, I’ve had two near-misses, so look after yourself — you don’t get too many chances after that’.’’

He’s survived by two sons, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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