10 March 2009
The South Island branch of the HMNZS LEANDER Association will meet for the last time over the weekend 13 March -15 March in Christchurch. The Association was originally formed from members of the Ships Company who served in the former HMNZS LEANDER during WWII.
Whereas the North Island branch of the Association held their final reunion three years ago, the South Island branch has continued to meet annually, largely through the support of the children of the Veterans who took over organising each gathering. It was decided last year that 2009 be the final formal gathering for these old Navy friends and shipmates.
Over the weekend, the following activities are planned:
Friday 13 March: Meet and Greet at the Christchurch RSA – 5:30 pm
Saturday: 14 March Formal dinner at HMNZS PEGASUS, Montreal St – 6:00 pm
Sunday 15 March: Church Service at HMNZS PEGASUS – 10-30 am.
Guests at the reunion this year include the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Ledson, who will attend the dinner and Church Service, and the Principal Navy Chaplain, Wayne Toleafoa, who will officiate at the Church Service.
The 2 CANTS Band will be on site to support the Church Service and the New Zealand White Ensign will be paraded.
One of the veterans’ attending will be Chief Petty Officer Monty Gibbs of Christchurch, who served in LEANDER from the time it was handed over to the Royal New Zealand Navy until it was handed back to the Royal Navy. Also attending is Commodore Richard T Hale of Westport, who was a Sub Lieutenant onboard LEANDER, and is still called 'Subby Hale' by the old Vets.
While there is a smaller number veterans expected to attend this year; a large turn out of family and friends is anticipated to support this very special reunion.
In total, the Royal Navy has had six ships that have borne the name Leander. The vessel linked with New Zealand naval history was the fifth in an illustrious line-up and was transferred to the New Zealand Navy in 1937, seeing service as a NZ Division ship in the Mediterranean and Pacific during the Second World War.
Leander was launched at Devonport on 13 July 1929 and was commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Leander on 23 July 1931, serving with the NZ Division from 1937 until 1941 when the NZ Division of the Royal Navy became the Royal New Zealand Navy. Leander was subsequently commissioned as HMNZS Leander in September 1941. In mid-July 1943 Leander was severely damaged when it was hit by a torpedo at Kolombangra in the Pacific. It would not be until 1945 that repairs to Leander were completed, and the vessel was returned to the Royal Navy. Leander was scrapped in 1950. (see Service from the Sea, by Kelly Ana Morey).
Media are invited to attend and meet the veterans and their families. For further information and registration of interest or for any interviews, please contact Lieutenant Commander Barbara Cassin, Media Advisor - Navy 021-2440638.