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RNZIR 'Originals' Reunion 2012

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Organising Team:
Chairman: Bill McDonald
Email: Reunion Chairman

Sec/Treas: Rolly Rolston
Email: Secretary

Brigadier Ian Thorpe
Mrs Pat Thorpe
Te Kei Merito
Henry Macown
Anne Merito
Mailing Address
The Organising Committee
1 RNZIR (Originals) Reunion
c/- Rotorua RSA (Inc)
PO Box 1037
New Zealand

Email: Committee

Landline Phone:
07 348 1055 Ext 1, ask for Rolly.
Cell Phone:
027 3222 518, Rolly Rolston.

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Introduction to Battalion Reunion in 2014 - a Celebratory Year

The 2014 reunion of the First Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, abbreviated as 1 RNZIR and commanded by Lt Col Bob Gurr in Malaysia and Borneo, is a celebratory year. It is the 50th anniversary of the unit being conferred with the title ROYAL NEW ZEALAND INFANTRY REGIMENT in 1964.

The Battalion was based at Terendak Military Camp, in the vicinity of Melaka in Malaysia, from late 1963 to late 1965. On 1 April 1964, the unit was officially designated the 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment. The designation was occasioned with a full battalion parade, attended by personnel from all of the other units within the 28th Commonealth Brigade located at Terendak Camp. The Brigade was part of 17th Gurkha Division that became involved in the Indonesian Confrontation affecting the whole of Malaysia.

Whilst based in Malaysia, the battalion engaged in active service on the Malay/Thai Border, Malay Peninsula against Indonesian regular military forces, and in Sarawak also against Indonesian regular military forces. Battalion members are referred to as the 'Originals'.

The city name of Malacca reverted back to Melaka in recent years as the indigenous Malay name for that city.

Outline - 1 RNZIR 'Originals' Reunion - 2014

At this point in time and subject to final confirmation the plan for the 1 RNZIR 'Originals' reunion in 2014 is, ;

Tribute to Brigadier Robert Maynard [Bob] GURR OBE, MBE- passed away 27 January 2010.

The unit's former commanding officer, Brigadier Bob Gurr [Rtd] OBE, passed away peacefully in Australia on Wednesday 27 January 2010.

Brigadier Gurr was Commanding Officer [CO] of the First Battalion New Zealand Regiment on its posting on 9 Nov 1963, to the 28th Commonwealth Brigade Garrison located at Terendak near Malacca in Malaya. He therefore was CO when the unit became the 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment [1 RNZIR] at Terendak on 1 April 1964, when the battalion received its new name. He relinquished that appointment on posting back New Zealand as part of the routine two-yearly roll over on 25 Nov 1965.

With service in World War II, his service number was 800117, Bob was a former Platoon Commander in 36 Battalion, 3 New Zealand Division during 1943. This was followed as a Troop Commander in the Divisional Cavalry Regiment in Italy 1944-1945. He then served with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan during 1945-1946.

Bob's military career continued with:
  • British Army Staff College at Camberley
  • Appointed as Ordinary Member of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of British Empire [MBE] in Queen's Birthday Honours 1956
  • Officer Commanding, Tactics School Waiouru 1959-1962
  • Directing Staff at Australian Army Staff College, Queenscliff
  • Appointed as Ordinary Member of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of British Empire [OBE] in Queen's Birthday Honours 1966
  • Promotion to Brigadier, 8 February 1971
  • Posted to New Zealand Defence Liaison Staff in Canberra 9 March 1973
  • Retired on 22 October 1976. Went to BROADLANDS GROUP, then moved to Melbourne, Australia.
The unit's actions on the Malay/Thai border, Malaysian Peninsula against Indonesian regular forces and in Borneo [Sarawak] against Indonesian regular forces are described in the book titled 'Voices from a border war: a history of 1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment 1963 to 1965 (Melbourne: R. Gurr, 1995). It is listed on a New Zealand Defence Force website Bibliography of New Zealand Military History as merely being among 'Other Conflicts'.

During its tour of duty in Malaysia the unit was heavily involved in achieving stability through the co-ordinated countering of external aggressive military forces. This campaign commonly referred to as the Malaysian Confrontation. A request has been submitted to New Zealand Defence Force for a section called Malaysian Confrontation be created and the book 'Voices from a border war' be listed in that section of the Bibliography of New Zealand Military History

Of those who served with the original 1 RNZIR unit based in Malaysia 1964-65, 288 subsequently served in the South Vietnam war with other units and sub units with 5 being killed in action.

A limited edition of 'Voices from a border war' was relaunched as hardback reprint during the forthcoming reunion in Rotorua. The details can be read on this page by clicking here.

Given the passing of the late Bob Gurr before the relaunch of his book, the following was his final message read at the 2010 reunion:

Dear Friends and ex Fellow Soldiers
Life and time is catching up with me otherwise I would have been with you to reminisce on the best recollections of my Army life.

Fortunately, I am well looked after. While I am not too mobile my brain is still okay and my wife, Barbara, and daughter, Victoria, have all been marvelously supportive.

I was looking at the map of Rotorua and remembering how much I enjoyed fishing at Lake Tarawera each year when the season opened. One of my oldest friends still lives there. I would have also liked to have seen him again.

May you all reunite and have a memorable weekend - I would have enjoyed being among you. Also, and importantly, may your lives be blessed with good health and your families likewise.

Good luck to you all, I think of you with great respect and affection.

Bob Gurr.

Updated 10 June 2012. Webmaster, Victor R Johnson. Contact Webmaster, email webmaster