Topic: Trials of a newly Commissioned Officer (from the 1980s) by Russell B. Skeet

Topic type:

This story appeared in the 6th Battalion (Hauraki) Regimental Association's newsletter in 2002 (August).


This article looking wrong? See archived version here.

6th Hauraki Insignia

Not long after I was commissioned into the 6thBattalion Hauraki, in 1982, I was given the task of being escort officer on Anzac Day for the mayor of Paeroa, Basil Morrison JP. Now in 1983 I was a very freshly minted young second Lieutenant with bugger all experience of anything, and only four years experience in the Territorial Force, and those as a private soldier in the Mortar Platoon. The prospect of escorting such an august presence as a Mayor was daunting: but that was the task I had been given.

To get to the point, I carried off the task with all the aplomb expected and was quite satisfied with my performance? Indeed I felt very elevated by the whole thing. Back at the RSA, with Basil and his wife and a few of the other dignitaries that were partaking of the conviviality kindly provided by the Paeroa RSA, conversation turned to me, the new officer- what was my background was the question? The question in itself was fine but it was loaded with expectation and that was the worrying part. What did they expect me to be?

Now at this particular time I was labouring for the local council -you know the sort of thing, filling in pot holes and mending footpaths, spending rainy days in the cab of the truck away from the prying eyes of the foreman. But today, this Anzac Day I was an officer in Her majesty's New Zealand Territorial Force Volunteers, all puffed up in my finery, looking every bit the part. So what do you say?

The conversation went a little like this.

Mrs. Mayor "And what do you do Russell?

RS "I work in civil engineering."

Mrs. Mayor "Oh yes and what does that involve?"

RS "I work in the area of road construction and maintenance-urban infrastructure." (You might have noticed how I dressed it up a little to meet the expectation.)

Mrs. Mayor "Gosh that must be interesting; what sort of things do you do?"

RS "Mostly I am involved with roading projects and footpath maintenance in the Thames area." (I'm running out of options now, having painted myself into a corner.) But still she persisted.

Mrs. Mayor "Yes and what sort of construction jobs have you been involved in recently? (Of course no one else was contributing to the conversation, rather they were keen to hear about me, so apart from the background hub bub there was an air of expected silence. For me the tension was palpable.) RS-Forced now to reveal the truth of the situation; "Well my colleagues and I have most recently been engaged in...."

Saved, for at that precise moment, the president of the RSA rang the bell and made an announcement and all ears were directed toward him. I had been about to reveal that we had been burning rubber and plastic coating off scrap wire up the Waiotahi Valley quarry so that we could flog it off to the scrappy for better value. If you are going to shatter expectations, do it big time. I decided we would spend time gathering odd scraps of wire from the tip and other job sites, burn it off and sell it to the scrap dealer every month; not exactly a task on the job description.

Any way I was saved the fate of disclosing the reality of my work situation and lived to escort the Mayor another day with my dignity intact.

 

R.B.Skeet U752026

 

----

This page archived at Perma CC in September of 2016: https://perma.cc/74S9-5RT6

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion

Trials of a newly Commissioned Officer (from the 1980s) by Russell B. Skeet


Year:1982
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Trials of a newly Commissioned Officer (from the 1980s) by Russell B. Skeet by Tauranga City Libraries Staff - HC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License