Anzac Day: Stories of local legends

Gordon Brownless stands outside the ruins of Cassino town.

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First up, former Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless tells us the story of his father Gordon Brownless with photos and captions. Hamilton-born Gordon was wounded twice in World War II but lived a long life, and eventually died in Tauranga in 2011 at the age of 91.

A fresh faced Gordon Brownless trained at Waiouru camp. He is pictured here at his parents' home before setting sail for action on the other side of the world.

Gordon was first sent to North Africa and then Italy, where he fought in the Battle of Cassino, described as one of the most brutal and costly battles involving NZ forces in World War II. He is pictured here on a tank at Castiglione (The bare-chested one at the back).

Gordon is pictured here in the North African desert (back row, second from left).

The propaganda war is illustrated by leaflets air dropped by the enemy. It concerns the River Po which the allies had to cross. The title on the nice side (above) reads 'The Po is waiting for you'. On the reverse side (below) is pictured the horror of defeat.

Greg says his father was wounded twice.

"The first time saw bits of shrapnel graze the side of his head and also embed itself in his stomach."

As the report below says, he made a good recovery from that but the second time around recovery took a bit longer.

"He was felled by a jumping mine which, when triggered, jumps about one metre into the air before exploding.

"Anyway it took away half of his left lower cheek (buttock), which led to us describing him as a bit half-assed.

"He claimed to be highly embarrassed at the hospital to be lying face down for about six weeks with nurses looking at his backside."

A news clipping from the then Waikato Independent reports Gordon wounded in action for the second time.

A photo of a painting by Ted Lewis of a town ravaged by war.

Greg says there is not really a Tauranga connection, but Ted Lewis was his father's art teacher in Hamilton.

"He took my father aged 15 and three other students on a two week bike tour, Hamilton to Wanganui return. He also served in the war and painted many artworks, many of which are in the Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui," Greg says.

Finally, a photo of Gordon Brownless on Anzac day 2009, or thereabouts, near the Tauranga cenotaph.

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