There was 77 years’ difference between the eldest war veteran and the dedication speaker at this year’s ANZAC Dawn Service in Napier.
Abby May is a 17-year-old student at Woodford House and Guy Natusch is a 94-year-old veteran of World War II and a well known architect of Napier.
Although Abby and Guy do not know each other, they came together at Napier’s centenary service, alongside hundreds of people, to remember those who have gone before them.
Natusch served in the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy from 1942 to 1945 in the North Sea and English Channel for D-Day operations on destroyers and torpedo boats. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in May 1944 for good service against enemy light forces.
As the sun rose above the Sound Shell, May read a prayer as a dedication to the many soldiers who sacrificed their lives. She then delivered an award winning speech called, The Ultimate Sacrifice, which was inspired by her great grandfather and great uncle, at the Hastings Hospital service.
Abby’s powerful speech won the ANZ RSA Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition last year and, as a result, she attended the centenary commemorations in Gallipoli.
Since then, has spoken at more than 20 events nationwide.
“The most significant part of sharing my experience is that it is done in a way that gives a breath of fresh air to what we know as World War I,” Abby said.
“For people to hear the story from a young person who has grown as a result of experiencing Gallipoli first hand gives people reassurance the longevity of the ANZAC message is in safe hands with my generation.”
In her speech, May describes the experience of a New Zealander at the Gallipoli landings, and his hesitance to shoot down a Turk because of the similarities he sees between himself and his opposition.
“In reality, the Turks where just pawns in the larger Ottoman Empire game, likewise New Zealanders were just pawns in the British Empire’s game. Both were fighting for their countries identity and the future of their people. They call it the gentleman’s war for a reason,” Abby said.
“The men that fought on that increasingly harsh landscape did not do so out of malice. There is evidence that their camaraderie went so far as to throw food and tobacco to one another from their respective trenches.
“The mutual respect that exists between our people today is very unique, and is cherished by both parties.”
RSA President John Purcell said it was extremely important to have young people involved in the ANZAC Day services.
“We love having the students speak because, even if there is never another war, they will be the guardians of remembrance.”
Woodford House students, Sarah Ardin and Susannah Hansen, also spoke at ANZAC services in Eskdale Service and Havelock North, respectively.