Home' Greymouth Star : June 3rd 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, June 3, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1657 - Death of William Har vey, English
physician who discovered the nature of the
circulation of blood and the function of the
heart as a pump.
1769 - Captain James Cook, a year into his
circumnavigation of the world, obser ves the
transit of Venus across the face of
the sun from Tahiti.
1937 - Britain’s Duke of Windsor,
formerly King Edward VIII, marries
American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
1940 - Allied evacuation from
Dunkirk, France, is completed in
World War Two.
1946 - Louis Reard, a former
engineer, unveils the bikini bathing suit, which
he named for Bikini Atoll, where US nuclear
tests were being held.
1963 - Death of Pope John XXIII (born
Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli), aged 81.
1968 - Pop artist Andy Warhol is shot and
critically wounded in his New York film studio.
1989 - Chinese troops storm Tiananmen
Square, killing hundreds of pro-democracy
demonstrators; Death of Iran’s spiritual leader,
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, aged 86.
2001 - Actor Anthony Quinn dies in Boston
at age 86.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Jefferson Davis, first and only president of the
US Confederacy (1808-1889);George V, king
of England (1865-1936); Josephine Baker, US
cabaret artist (1906-1975); Tony
Curtis, US actor (1925-2010); Allen
Ginsberg, US poet (1926-1997);
Raul Castro, Cuban President
(1931-); Curtis Mayfield, US
composer and songwriter (1942-
1999); Suzi Quatro, US singer
(1950-); Dan Hill, Canadian singer
(1954-); Scott Valentine, US actor (1958-);
Rafael Nadal, Spanish tennis player (1986-).
“ What is history but a fable agreed upon?”
— attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte
“This is the day which the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
— (Psalms 118:24).
Mr Hugh Brown,
an elderly Karoro
resident who was
seriously injured in
a road mishap here on Saturday evening, was
still in a fair condition in Greymouth Hospital
late this morning. Mr Brown, aged 78, retired,
of Tasman Street, received head injuries and
multiple fractures of the legs and arms, when
he was knocked down by a motorcar near the
intersection of Paroa Road and Tasman Street
The car was being driven in a southerly
direction by Mr G L Sutherland, of Paroa.
Mr Brown’s accident was the worst of a small
crop of Queen’s Birthday weekend mishaps in
the province. Another local resident, Mr John
Jackson jnr, of Thompson Street, Greymouth,
was rushed to Westland Hospital for
treatment following an accident on a southern
He received lacerations when one of his
hands came into contact with the moving
propeller blades on the motor of a boat he was
using at Okarito Lagoon on Saturday.
A merit bar was presented to Mr A G Spark
at the annual meeting of the Greymouth
Harrier Club on Saturday afternoon. Mr Spark
has been an active member of the group for a
number of years and has been its secretary for
the past two.
A member of the literary staff of the Evening
Star, he takes up a new position with the Fiji
Times in Suva at the end of this month.
The harrier club also honoured him with a
presentation carried out by the president, Mr
T A Sweeney. Apart from this sporting activity,
Mr Spark has also been a member of the West
Coast Badminton Association.
uFood for thought
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pain’s Crown Prince Felipe
de Borbon, a tall former
Olympic yachtsman, will take
the throne largely unscathed
by scandals that have battered
the royal family.
Frequently smiling but more reser ved
than his father, the 1.98m Felipe, 46, had
long suffered from comparisons with
the easygoing Juan Carlos, who played a
historic role in Spain’s post-dictatorship
His father Juan Carlos decided
overnight to abdicate in favour of Felipe
after nearly 40 years on the throne, Prime
Minister Mariano Rajoy said.
Juan Carlos’s image took a blow after
he took a luxury elephant-hunting safari
to Botswana in April 2012 as his subjects
struggled in a recession, with one in four
Further damaging the royal family’s
standing, a judge opened a corruption
investigation in 2010 centred on Inaki
Urdangarin, husband of the prince’s sister
Cristina, who has also been linked to the
At the same time, Felipe’s approval
rating has risen.
The number of people wanting the king
to abdicate in favour of Felipe surged by
17% over 2013 to 62%, according to the
study by pollster Sigma Dos carried out
in late December 2013.
General support for the monarchy as
an institution, however, fell below half to
49.9%, according to the poll, published in
daily newspaper El Mundo.
Felipe was schooled for his future role
as monarch in the three branches of the
armed forces and during studies abroad,
and he comes across as a solid, studious
“His goal, his only goal, is to serve
Spain. It has been deeply ingrained in
him that he must be the country’s main
servant,” his mother Queen Sofia once
His mission is to guarantee the
continuation of the monarchy, which was
restored in 1975 on the death of dictator
General Francisco Franco.
Once considered Europe’s most eligible
bachelor, Felipe wed former television
presenter Letizia Ortiz in a glittering
ceremony in Madrid’s Almudena
Cathedral in 2004 after several previous
romantic dalliances, including one with a
Nor wegian lingerie model.
Ortiz, a 41-year-old divorcee, was the
first commoner to come in line for the
The couple have two daughters —
Leonor, born in October 2005 and Sofia,
born in April 2007.
The family’s lifestyle has at times
appeared relatively modest for a pair of
royals, with Felipe and his wife spotted at
movie theatres in the centre of Madrid or
in shopping malls.
Born in Madrid on January 30, 1968, he
is the only son of Juan Carlos and Queen
He has two older sisters, Elena and
Cristina, but under the 1978 constitution
Felipe enjoys direct right of ascendancy
to the crown as the sole male heir.
In 1977, when he was nine years old, he
was named Prince of Asturias, the title
given to the heir to the Spanish throne.
His father kept him at his side on the
night of February 23, 1981 when soldiers
seized parliament, firing shots over the
heads of politicians, in a bid to establish
another military regime.
Juan Carlos appeared on live television
in full military regalia and ordered the
coup plotters back to their barracks, a
move that cemented his image as the
guarantor of Spain’s young democracy.
“I wanted him to see what one has to do
when one is king,” Juan Carlos explained
later, referring to his son.
Juan Carlos called Felipe “the best
prepared Prince of Asturias in Spanish
history” during a televised inter view in
Felipe completed one year of studies
in Canada prior to three years’ military
training at the academies of Spain’s army,
navy and air force, when he learned to fly
After his military training, Felipe
studied for a law degree at the
Autonomous University of Madrid before
following a two-year master’s programme
in international relations at Georgetown
University in Washington, DC.
Like his father, he is also keen sailor
and appeared in Spain’s Olympic squad
at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, carrying
the country’s team flag.
Felipe, a modern prince
PICTURE: Getty Images
Their Royal Highnesses, Prince Felipe of Spain and Princess Letizia of Spain pose for a photograph with their daughters the Princesses Leonor and Sofia.
Scared stiff but with nowhere to hide,
Ken Scott tried to block out the sight of
his comrades being gunned down as he
pushed up the Normandy beach on D-Day.
“Soldiers were falling all around, and they
were hollering and shouting and calling
for their mothers,” recalls the British Army
veteran, now a frail 98-year-old.
“ We just had to brush it aside and keep
going, we couldn’t stop and help them. It
was just impossible. We would have been
dead ourselves. We had to get ashore and
stop those machineguns.”
The memories, suppressed for many years,
are fresh in Scott ’s mind as he prepares to
return to France for the 70th anniversary
commemorations of D-Day.
As one of 130,000 Allied soldiers who
landed in France on June 6, 1944, he was
part of an invasion that would turn the tide
of World War Two.
But he takes no pride in it.
“How can you be proud when you see
your own mates being machine-gunned
down? You can’t. No,” he said, his voice
breaking even now.
Staring out the window of his bungalow
in Royal Wootton Bassett, in southern
England, Scott is almost pleading, as if he
is still trying to justify his sur vival.
More than 3000 troops were killed on
D-Day, many of them mown down by
German machinegun fire within seconds
of stepping on to the beaches.
Scott had had three years’ experience
fighting in North Africa, but it was luck
as much as anything who was shot on that
“I was as terrified as everybody else.
Scared stiff. But there was nowhere to go.
You had to go for ward. There was nowhere
The invasion had been meticulously
planned, but for the soldiers the reality of
the massive land, air and sea attack was
“There was bombs and shells and God
knows what going on all the time. You
don’t know whether it was aimed at you
or Tom, Dick or Harry. Everybody was
getting it,” Scott said.
These days, he has trouble walking and
his eyesight is fading, but the veteran has
a vivid memory of stepping off a landing
craft into the water and on to the beach.
“ You couldn’t see the water for ships. And
the noise and the smell ...” Scott said.
“Imagine — the whole of the navy
opening up with their guns, blasting away
at the cliffs to stop the machineguns. Then
there were the bombers overhead, and
some of the bombs were falling a bit short
— absolute chaos.”
Having sur vived the onslaught, Scott
marched through northern France and
fought on for 11 more months until a
ceasefire was signed, ending five years of
ser vice in which he saw some of the worst
incidents of the war.
Before D-Day, as a member of the
Durham Light Infantry he spent three
long years with the Eighth Army in Egypt
and Libya as a “Desert Rat ”, and fought at
Near the end of the war, he was among
the first to reach the concentration camp
at Belsen, the hideous memory of which
causes his voice to break for a second
time. “I don’t want to talk about it,” he
Despite his horror at the loss of life, the
barbarity of the Nazis convinced Scott
that the war was justified.
“ We really had to take the Nazi clique
out, it had to be,” he said, yet he insists
he bears “no hatred, none at all” towards
Scott went back to Normandy five years
ago for the first time with his son but now,
with “one foot in the grave and the other
on a bar of soap”, he wants to say goodbye.
— New Zealand Herald
D-Day: ‘There was nowhere to hide’
A British soldier recalls the horror of the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944.
From inside his tank, the young soldier
could see “practically nothing” on Omaha
Seventy years later, William Gast still
wonders whether he rolled over his
comrades sheltering from German gunfire
Corporal Gast was 19 years old the
morning of June 6, 1944. “ We came in
at H-10, that was 10 minutes before the
As part of Company A, 743rd Tank
Battalion, 1st Army, Gast remembers the
training in Britain, when he rehearsed
driving the Sherman tank on to the landing
craft. And then floating in the English
“Another night we went out and we didn’t
come back. That was it.”
The skipper promised he would get
them close enough that they would not be
submerged in water.
He kept his word.
Twenty seven of 32 tanks launched at sea
5km from the coast sank before they could
reach land, despite having flotation screens.
“The order was given to go, we started
our engines up, they lowered the ramp,”
Gast said. He “could feel the tracks
At last, the tank tracks took hold on the
sandy sea bottom and he drove up the
Down below in the driver’s seat, Gast
tried to steer the tank with the aid of a
small, manual periscope.
“The saddest part is, not being able to
see, I may have run over some of my own
people. And if I did, I don’t even know it.
I can’t ever get that out of my mind, you
Gast heard machinegun bullets hitting
the side of the tank, “ like throwing
marbles at a car — that’s what it sounded
like. And there were shells that exploded
right beside me. You could feel the tank
By noon, close to 19,000 American
soldiers who landed at Omaha were still
pinned down on the beach. Troops were
mowed down by a fusillade of German
machinegun, artillery and mortar fire.
The losses were staggering: more than
2000 dead, wounded and missing on
Omaha Beach. The exact toll is still
Gast, from Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
earned the Silver Star and the Purple
Heart during his combat tour. Now 89
years old, he recently was awarded France’s
Legion d’Honneur at a ceremony for
World War Two veterans at the French
Embassy in Washington.
His son, Bill, said his father did not want
to return to France to relive that day in
Normandy: “It’s important we don’t forget
but you try to hide things somewhere. ”
— New Zealand Herald
D-Day: Tank lurched blindly on
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