12 December 2018
Two wartime sailors who bonded over laughter and stories at their Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association “Navy” table have shared their final journey on the sea, thanks to the formal ash-scattering ceremonies offered by the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).
Kevin Mills and Patrick Monaghan, of the Mt Wellington Panmure RSA in Auckland, served separately during the Second World War but became lifelong friends afterwards, frequently sharing Anzac Day services.
Both expressed their wish to have their ashes scattered at sea, a ceremony the RNZN provides to serving and former personnel.
The Mahanga, the RNZN’s 14-metre launch with a crew of three, is used to transport an RNZN chaplain and family members from Devonport Naval Base into Waitemata Harbour.
Mr Mills’ wife Glennis said it was wonderful the “boys” went together.
“Because Patrick was going out, we asked if Kevin could go out on the same boat, because of their friendship at the RSA. They were good mates.”
So earlier this month, in the sunshine and light chop near Devonport’s North Head, RNZN Chaplain Colin Mason presided over the service, with prayers and readings, and offered the families their moment for speeches.
Taking it in turns, family members scattered the remains of Mr Mills, then Mr Monaghan, with flowers being tossed into the sea.
Mrs Mills said her husband, a former president and patron of the Mt Wellington Panmure RSA, would have been humbled by the ceremony.
Terry Monaghan, Patrick’s son, said the service was wonderful and down-to-earth.
“For years, my father said he wanted his ashes scattered at sea. He didn’t want people coming along to a cemetery to tend to a headstone, then after five years forgetting you were there.”
The otherwise flawless morning could have had a few more waves, he said.
“He liked a bit of spray.”
Mr Monaghan served on small RNZN vessels in and around the Solomon Islands during the war. Mr Mills served on cruiser HMNZS Gambia, and was in Japan for the official surrender.
Chaplain Mason said because of the demand for the service the RNZN would increase the ash-scattering dates from three to four times a year, he said. He already has five requests for scatterings for 2019.
“The service is for Navy and ex-Navy, New Zealand and foreign, or the partner or child of an ex-Navy or serving Navy person,” he said.
In a final honour, it turned out Mr Mills was owed two more medals for his service to New Zealand than he had received. Two days later, at the RSA, Acting Deputy Chief of Navy Captain Maxine Lawes made a posthumous presentation to Mrs Mills of Mr Mills’s New Zealand Operational Service Medal and the New Zealand Service Medal 1946-1949.