25 Apr 2015

New Anzac honours boards for Alton

4:03 pm on 25 April 2015

About three hundred people turned out to see new honours boards unveiled at Anzac Day commemorations in the South Taranaki village of Alton today.

The honours boards recognise all the servicemen and women from the tiny village who served during the two World Wars.

Honours boards recognising all the local man and women who served during the two World Wars were unveiled in Alton in South Taranaki today.

Honours boards recognising all the local man and women who served during the two World Wars were unveiled in Alton in South Taranaki today. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Previously Alton had only had a War Memorial honouring those who had died.

Ross Symes helped identify the seventy nine names that appear on the honours boards, which include three of his own relatives.

Two of his uncles fought in the Second World War and had been missed off earlier memorials because, like many other young men at the time, they moved around a lot.

"I guess when they did the original boards or original memorials, some of these guys, they were single guys and although they lived here, they probably enlisted somewhere else."

Mr Symes said he was pleased his uncles' names were now in their rightful place.

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Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Jacq Dwyer has been another driving force behind the honour boards, which have been crafted from matai pillars salvaged from a local cowshed and rimu shelves from the old Alton school.

Ms Dwyer said the boards were important, because as well recognising as those who died, they also recognised those men who survived.

"Their lives were very hard for most of them when they came back. They put up a good front and at the time people probably thought they just wanted to get back on with life.

"But they were hiding harbouring memories that we just can't even imagine and we want them recognised, we want to never forget what they did for us."

Newton Hodge is one of only two Alton veterans still alive today and the only one living in the area.

Newton Hodge, 98, is the last surviving Alton veteran who lives in the area.

Newton Hodge, 98, is the last surviving Alton veteran who lives in the area. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Mr Hodge, who lost a leg in the Battle for the River Po during the liberation of Italy, did not attend today's commemoration but had an earlier private viewing of the honours boards.

Many of the names on the board were familar to him from his time going to school and growing up in Alton.

He too was pleased that everyone who served was no being recognised.

"I think it is important that everyone should be mentioned on it, those that were fortunate enough to come back and those that were unfortunate and didn't come back. They should all be remembered."