One of Cambridge’s well-known veterans, Ray Moncur, turned 100 on June 7.
He marked the occasion with several special gatherings, more cake than he could eat, and the stated gratitude of a gentleman to all those who visited him.
“I really appreciate you coming along,” he smiled, “but I don’t feel any different.”
Nonetheless, Ray did acknowledge the significance of the day – both for himself and in a wider sense. His birthday fell one day after the 75th anniversary of the 1944 Allies’ D-Day landings in France – a coincidence not lost on a man whose WW2 service earned him several medals and left him with awful wartime memories of his own.
Born in Auckland on June 7, 1919, Ray was the youngest of five children. His mother steered the family to adulthood after her husband died when Ray was just three. He expressed some surprise at reaching the birthday milestone, and simply bowed his head when asked about his war service.
Ray is recognised as one of Cambridge’s oldest veterans and is a long-standing member of the Cambridge Returned Services Association. He served with K Section Signals, 5th New Zealand Infantry Brigade, 2nd NZEF during WW2. After completing his basic training at Waiouru, he was deployed in North Africa. His platoon arrived in Egypt just before the battle for El Alamein; Ray was assigned to 5th Battalion in Tripoli.
In previous accounts, he has recalled the horrors of war, of German fighter planes strafing convoys in places where cover was non-existent and narrow escapes were common. Once the war was over, Ray began his civilian career, completing 40 years with the post office, both in Cambridge and elsewhere.
An avowed sports lover all his life, Ray played 1st XI cricket and 1st XV rugby at Dilworth Boarding School in Auckland and enjoyed equal success in tennis and swimming. He is a life member of both the Cambridge Swimming Club, and the Leamington Bowling Club and was on the committee of the athletics club. Such was his prowess on the bowling green that he became the Waikato singles champion back in the day, and played a good game until he was well into his 80s.
Ray, a resident at Resthaven Cambridge, received numerous special birthday cards, including one from Queen Elizabeth, but was particularly tickled with a box of goodies that arrived from Dilworth School.