To celebrate the lives of the brave soldiers who perished some of the Energi team share stories about family members who were in military service at the time.
Louise Henderson, CEO: Abandoned at age 3 as a result of the great depression in 1923, John William Reid Troup (Dad) was raised by the Salvation Army in the Celia P Watman home located in Masterton. Dad enlisted in WWII at the age of 18. Raised to become a dutiful young man; following his compulsory training at Trentham he left New Zealand a Private in the Communications Corp as a Morse Code specialist. During his service he became one of the very few soldiers to receive a commission to 2nd Lt for his outstanding service. Mentioned in despatches by Fryberg for his active service saw him travel to Europe and the Pacific Islands. At the end of the War he returned to New Zealand on a ship accompanied by refugees. Among them a Jewish refugee enquired as to what he was going to do when he got home. Dad asked if he had any thoughts on the subject and the man advised, “Get into something that runs out all the time and needs to replaced immediately”. Upon his homecoming Dad entered the world of commerce as a salesman becoming the top stationary salesman in Auckland for Whitcomb & Tombs (now Whitcoulls). Eventually he left Whitcomb and Tombs and created his own stationary company. Dad had taken on board the sage advice from his fellow traveller and he built a successful business as a supplier of pens, pencils, rubbers and a fine paper merchant. An oft said expression of his when suffering the trials of raising teenagers as we complained when it was our turn to clean the pool at home or mow the lawns at the bach, in a raised voice through gritted teeth was ‘you kids have no idea how lucky you are’. He was correct. So he had a tough start to his life and that became the measure of the man as we recall him as a tough man throughout his life. Age 73 he returned to Europe on Maggie Barry’s inaugural Garden tour to view the gardens of Italy and Ireland. The day of departure from Dublin to Ireland Dad went to the bank to exchange his punce currency for pounds in anticipation of being in London for the 50th Anniversary and celebrations of the end of WWII. He left the bank feeling unwell and advised Mum he needed a lie down at the hotel prior to departure. Boarding the taxi with my Mother Dad suffered a fatal heart attack. He was now in the great parade in the sky with his fellow service men many of whom had perished during the war. Mum advised, upon returning to the hotel that his suitcase was packed to military precision with the copy of the Irish newspaper outlining all the activities to be enjoyed in London. Flown back to New Zealand in his casket which was travelled to St Marks in Remuera for his funeral then onto Purewa Crematorium, as he was carried from the hurst into the crematorium for his internment there was a gathering outside of some elderly gentleman who had attended an internment of another. One of the older gentleman attending the preceding funeral glanced at the brass plaque on Dads casket, noting to his friends, “It’s John Troup, he was a great soldier.”
Paul Bayley, Art Director: My Grandfather was a member of the Royal Engineers during World War 2. He was part of Operation Pluto. Operation Pluto (Pipelines Under The Ocean) represents one of wartime’s greatest feats of engineering. Huge pipelines were successfully developed and laid beneath the Channel between Southern England and France. Fuel could safely be transported to the troops in Europe. My grandfather was over in enemy territory scouting for places to complete the required placements, before the invasion and he was hit by a sniper. He survived as was redeployed later on. The pipelines contributed largely to the success of the Allied operations after August 1944. What was so cool is they hid all the components it fake buildings, even one that sold ice-cream so the enemy had no idea. Go to 2-mins of this video if you are easily bored and see how epic it was!
Kit Greer, Mac Op: My grandad was in the Royal Navy, but sailed on merchant convoys as a gunner. We know he was down the South African coast, and also said that he was in Morocco. He would not eat dates, said he had seen them on filthy barrows in the streets & when we went over there he pointed them out to us saying “see what I mean”. He didn’t really talk much about the war at all to my dad or aunt, so we don’t really know much about it. There were references to a Russian merchant ship called John de Witt, but it’s not clear if he was on this at any point or protected it. He was also stationed in Auckland for some of the time and New York too.
Lew Bentley, Head of Strategy: My dad, Alec Bentley, was a Captain in the bomb disposal squad based in the wider Auckland region during World War 2. Although far from the intensity of the blitz in London, there was the occasional Japanese sea mine that washed up on our beaches from time to time. In the photos, you can see him (in the lemon squeezer hat) removing the detonator from one such mine. Times have clearly changed; no robots and bomb-proof suits for our boys back then!