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George was a Royal Marine Musician, who having completed his training in the Isle of Man in 1942, was drafted to join HMS Furious in the Atlantic. As can be seen from the article below, George MacLeod volunteered to join the Navy and was drafted to HMNZS Gambia, in which he served until 1946. Sadly, George died on May 15, 2012, aged 86.
This article appeared in the Rotorua Review of Tuesday, April 3, 2007
By Phil Campbell
George MacLeod has been barking orders on the parade ground for 49 years – on Anzac Day this year, he will get the men fell in for the last time. He just wants to ease out with a whimper.
"I think 50 years is quite long enough," Lieutenant Colonel MacLeod told the Review.
In that time, he has marshalled soldiieres who fought in World War I, World War II, Korean and Vietnam War conflicts.
He has also barked orders for one day of the year to Air Force, Army and Royal Navy cadets.
In a brusque, regimented but almost raffish way, Lt. Col. MacLeod has seen the popularity of the parades grow in the last decade where turnouts possibly resemble those of 50 years ago – at least in numbers.
Then, fatigues were worn at secondary school on Fridays for drill, with annual camps at military bases (this correspondent once attended an NCO course at Burnham).
MacLeod said he felt he was lucky with his health, "but I'm finding it very, very difficult to march now – we are fading away".
Since 1957, Mr. MacLeod has looked forward to his Anzac Day. "I've enjoyed the experience," he says. "In the 1950 the majority were World War I people still marching – a terrific number, in fact, but there are none whatsoever now.
"And there were quite a small number of World War II people.
"The other interesting thing is that some of the cadets who marched in those days are now superannuates – the 15 and 16-year-olds."
Number counting was difficult, but 200 was a rough guess, a figure has diminished over the years. School cadets bolstered the numbers.
All being well, Mr. MacLeod said he would still attend Anzac Day parades.
"I don't think I'll miss anything, but I won't be doing as much marching," Mr. MacLeod said.
"The whole atmosphere is great and I still intend attending as long as I'm still here." Mr. MacLeod has suggested the well-known John Marsh, who served in Vietnam, could take over the role. Mr. MacLeod, who succeeded Tom Luffey, a World War I major, who oversaw Anzac Day parades from 1945 to 1957. Mr. MacLeod,, who "served on" with the Hautakis post war, led at the Anzac Day as captain, but was subsequently promoted to his present rank, serving also in the territorials. Retired from the Army in 1974, the 82-year-old Mr. MacLeod saw service at 15 years 10 months, from 1941 to the Isle of Man for basic training boarded the aircraft carrier Furious to Murmansk, then to the Mediterranean, the Far East where he was at the end of the war when the treaty signed in Japan.
"There were representatives from each of the services from all countries who had taken part in the war there," Mr. MacLeod said.
"Troops from HMS Gambia were among the first troops to land in Japan, with a selection of marines and sailors aboard the Missouri to witness the signings.
Service leaders – generals and admirals – through the Far East were arranged in synchronous signings at the end of the Japanese conflict.
Yep, he says, people have been kind enough to say they want him to stay. Lt. Colonel MacLeod has modestly accepted the sentiments.
We have tried to keep quiet about it as requested. It is difficult muffling the farewell of a genuine Rotorus character – the parades were worth attending to see him in action. Like the ageing soldiers on his parade, who occasionally missed a step or two, who were not always eyes front, or who were seconds behind orders like Corporal Jones of Dad's Army fame, we are happy to say we failed. We can already sense the Lieutenant Colonel ordering a fizzer – a military escort to a bar at the Rotorua RSA.