Salts Honour Battler by Mike Crean -Â The Press, Christchurch
Sailors who manned cargo and passenger ships in World War 2 will repay a debt on Lyttelton Harbour on Sunday.
Former ship’s master Tudor Owen, of Christchurch, said “old salts” owed gratitude to former artilleryman Earle Crutchley, who had fought a tireless battle for members of the merchant navy to receive equal honours with those of the armed services.
Crutchley had successfully promoted the commemoration of the merchant navy on war memorials and the inclusion of merchant navy members in Anzac parades.
Members of the master mariners’, marine engineers’ and merchant marine organisations will treat Crutchley to a cruise on the historic tug Lyttelton on Sunday. They will present him with a plaque, expressing their appreciation of his efforts on their behalf.
Owen said Crutchley had battled single-handedly for recognition of the merchant navy’s contribution to the war effort. Among his 22 successes around New Zealand were plaques honouring the merchant navy added to the Christchurch war memorial in Cathedral Square and to the Lyttelton war memorial.
Crutchley, of Christchurch, said the war could not have been waged without the ships that transported troops, weapons, ammunition and supplies and that maintained trading links between Britain and its partners.
Report by Richard Knight, Warden Christchurch BranchÂ
On Sunday 4th November 2007Â a group of members of the Christchurch Branch of the NZ Company of Master Mariners, along with Members of the Marine Engineers InstituteÂ and Members of the Merchant Navy Association and their partners, hosted Earle Crutchley and his wife, Norma, and other members of his family, on the Steam Tug â€œLytteltonâ€Â for an afternoonâ€™s cruise to commemorate 100 years of the tugâ€™s operation.
The cruse for a gratifyingly large contingent of seafarers, plus a group of steam enthusiasts from overseas, took place in excellent conditions, on a warm and sunny day, with light winds, totally unexpected, as the preceeding week had been marred by extreem winds, which had one or two of our wives threatening mutiny. There was however a reasonable groundswell at the harbor entrance to remind us that we were at sea.
On our return to Lyttelton, at 4pm, and after the departure of the other passengers I presented on behalf of theÂ New Zealand Company of Master Mariners, our Company plaque to Earle, in recognition of his achievementsÂ in getting Merchant Navy Veterans commemorated alongside the Armed forces on War Memorials throughout NZ.. He has had success in 21 centres around the country, in both Islands, all at his own expense.
Earle, who was never at sea, but was a soldier, is now getting on in years and in failing health. is a fine old gentleman who is greatly interested in all things maritime and it was a great pleasure for me to make this presentation. He was obviously very moved by the whole occasion and very appreciative of the plaque, which I suspect will take pride of place in his home. His Daughter commented to me afterwards how very much they appreciated the whole afternoon, and how much it meant to her father.
Unfortunately, Tudor Owen, who was instrumental in getting this ceremony under way, was unable through ill health to attend.
Christchurch Warden Richard Knight presenting Earle Crutchley with plaque.
Earle Crutchley with past warden Malcom Pearson.