Community Contributed

Levin RSA World War II Memorial

Kete Horowhenua2020-03-23T16:57:17+00:00
The World War II memorial located in the foyer of the Levin RSA was originally part of the Levin Memorial Hall, opened in 1956.
LocationIn the foyer of the Levin RSA

This memorial was in the main entrance of the hall - which was opened on 16 February 1956 - immediately facing the front doors, where there is now a large mural.

The hall was used for many public events, including social functions and members of the RSA became concerned that it was being disrespected by smokers and that it was no longer the right place for it to be. They put a case to the then Levin Borough Council for the memorial to be removed to the RSA clubrooms.

It was relocated in the 1960s and is now a focal point of the small entranceway. It is on permanent loan to the RSA and remains the property of the council

Every Anzac Day after the returned servicemen march back to the clubrooms from the Dawn Parade Service at the Cenotaph a wreath is laid at the memorial by the president of the RSA.

It bears the names of 50 men, 49 of them who died in World War II and one – Graeme Rangi Morrison Thomas – who Adopt an Anzac’s research has discovered served in World War II but died in the Korean war.

It is inscribed ‘To their name we dedicate this building’ and Binyon’s famous words: “They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.”

Levin Daily Chronicle - Wednesday February 15, 1956

War Memorial Hall opening will be proud moment for those who contributed

Tomorrow will be a proud day for the Levin R.S.A., the Levin Borough Council, and all those who, in many ways, have contributed, when the Levin and District War Memorial Hall is declared officially open.

The ceremony will be conducted by the Dominion vice-president of the New Zealand Returned Services Association, Mr. K.W. Glasgow. Forming a significant section of the building is the memorial plaque, which will be unveiled by Rev. E.K. Norman, D.S.O., M.C. The Levin Municipal Band will be in attendance.

When it handed over the control of the hall project to the Levin Borough Council under the terms of the subsidy payments which insisted on such buildings being vested in the local body, the Levin R.S.A. undertook to maintain its help to see the building constructed. This pledge has been fully honoured.

The association raised a total of £7300 and this was handed over together with the land the association acquired, when the transfer to the council was made. Originally the R.S.A. was to have clubrooms on a top storey of the building but rising costs prohibited this. The association, therefore, decided to build clubrooms of its own in Devon Street on a section previously owned by the council. This work was proceeded with at remarkable speed, plus much hard work by members, who did the task on a voluntary basis. Meanwhile the R.S.A continued its interest in seeing that the Memorial Hall was completed.

The opening of the will complete the undertaking which was first suggested in the early ‘40s. The first proposal was for a soldiers’ clubrooms. Later it was suggested that a small also be attached to the clubrooms. Then the main scheme for a combined memorial hall and clubrooms was decided upon, and later altered to the present Memorial Hall.

When it was furnished the hall will have cost approximately £32,000. Besides serving as a fine and lasting memorial to those who lost their lives in World War II, the building will be a useful public amenity – virtually the town’s municipal social centre. As pointed out by Sir Howard Kippenberger when he laid the foundation stone, the true function of the building must never be forgotten. It is hoped that the plaque, permanently illuminated in the Hall of Memories, will be a constant reminder of this fact.

Levin Daily Chronicle - Wednesday February 16, 1956

Good attendance hoped for at Memorial Hall opening

Although it falls on a business day, the opening of the Levin and District War Memorial Hall tomorrow will, it is hoped, draw a good attendance of district people. The mayor, Mr. H.E. Herring, and the president of the Levin R.S.A., Mr. A.T. Fletcher, wish to make a special appeal to residents to attend the opening ceremony at the hall at 2p.m. They ask that a special effort be made by the public to witness the opening of the district’s war memorial. This long awaited occasion brings to a climax years of planning and the combined work of the many public-spirited people.

“The opening of the hall is an event of importance to the community as a whole. It is essentially a district affair,” said Mr. Fletcher. The ceremony will conclude at about 3.15, after which the building will be open for inspection.

Levin Daily Chronicle - Friday, February 18 1956

Simple moving ceremony for opening of Memorial Hall

Opening of Levin Memorial Hall About 400 people surrounded the dais for the official opening of the Levin and District War Memorial Hall yesterday afternoon. Later, with the opening addresses over, and the memorial tablet unveiled, they moved admiringly through the spacious rooms, commenting on the tasteful nature of the interior decorations.

It was clear that public opinion supported the praise voiced by the speakers during the ceremony.

The president of the Levin R.S.A., Mr. A.T. Fletcher, introduced the speakers. The official opening was performed by the Dominion vice-president of N.Z.R.S.A., Mr. K.W.R. Glasgow, of Wellington. The speakers were the mayor of Horowhenua Mr. H.E. Herring, the Horowhenua County Council representative, Mr. A. M. Colquhoun, Mr. J.J. Maher, M.P., Dr. S.J. Thompson, representing the ways and means committee and Mr. Glasgow.

Opening of Levin Memorial Hall At the request of Mr. Fletcher, the next-of-kin of those whose names appeared on the memorial plaque moved forward when the doors were opened by Mr. Glasgow. They entered the foyer and stood before the plaque. Members of the public then entered and brought the number in the foyer to nearly 100. The Rev. E.K. Norman, D.S.O., M.C., unveiled the memorial tablet and a wreath was laid.

“The Last Post” and “Reveille” were sounded by Bandsman V.F. Kaye of the Municipal Band. As the final notes faded, Mr. Norman conducted prayer.

The memorial tablet bears the words: “1939-45 – To their memory we dedicate this building.” There follows a roll of honour and at the foot of the tablet are the famous lines which open: “They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old…” Mr. Fletcher read these lines and the ceremony closed with the National Anthem and the Benediction.

Impressed by the simple moving service, the public moved quietly about the building. A variety of comments were heard in praise of the tablet. All agreed that is was a fitting tribute to the men who lost their lives in World War II.

Attractive rooms

While many people moved in to the main hall, a few interest women set off in another direction. Their destination was the kitchen. After opening the cupboards and investigating all the facilities of the attractive yellow-painted room, they moved into the supper room.

A large hall, big enough in itself for a dance, the supper room was of interest to many. Walls are painted green and the ceiling white. Sunshine is caught during the daytime and the large windows prove an asset on a hot night.

The largest in the district, the main hall of the building is painted pink. Acoustic boards line the wall above the inside entrance. At the far end is a stage, flanked by two small dressing rooms.

The Hall of Memories is the main entrance to the building. Facing the door is the shrine which will be lit by a constant light. Other rooms open off this foyer.

On the right of the main door is a hat check room, painted an attractive fawn. The conveniences also open off this small hall.

Levin Daily Chronicle - Saturday February 18, 1956

First social evening is held in Memorial Hall

Councillors, contractors, R.S.A. executive members and members of the original Ways and Means Committee were present when the Levin and District War Memorial Hall was used for its first social function on Thursday night. All of those who had helped towards the building of the hall were invited and most were present. Held in the hall’s supper room, a buffet tea, attended by nearly 200 people was the Levin branch of the Returned Services association’s way of thanking a large number of people for the work they had done.

Presented with a cigarette box, by the R.S.A. branch president, Mr. A.T. Fletcher, Mr. K.W.R. Glasgow, who had opened the hall earlier in the day, said he considered it an historic occasion. Throughout the country people were looking to the R.S.A. to lead in civic things. It was made easier for them by the large amount of work done by the wives of members.

“Today the women are part of the R.S.A.,” said Mr. Glasgow. “With them behind us we can never fail.” Mrs. Glasgow was presented with a bouquet by Mrs. Fletcher.

Another speaker, district R.S.A. vice-president, Mr. G.H. Denbow, Marton, mentioned the days when members went to reunions leaving their wives at home. “Now they have their own section and we don’t know what they are doing,” he said.

Pleasure at being able to renew many friendships was expressed by Mr. H.B. Burdekin, former mayor of Levin. It was a matter of pride, to see the completed hall, he said, but the best part of all was to meet all the people who had helped to build it

In welcoming Mr. Burdekin back to Levin, Mr. Fletcher observed that to a large degree Mr. Burdekin had been responsible for the hall being in existence today. In a short speech, the deputy-mayor, Mr. A.J.H. Allen, representing the Levin Borough Council, described the building as “a very nice hall, very cheap, of which I am very proud”.

This sentiment was also expressed by Mr. Fletcher, who said that he was very proud that the R.S.A has raised the amount of money it did. He also said how pleased he was to see so many of the people who had worked for the building present.