PERCIVAL RICHARD SIMEON ~ Borneo General Service Medal lost 50 years ago reunited with its Perth owner.

40399 ~ PERCIVAL RICHARD SIMEON    

40399 Pte. Percy R. Simeon ~ NZ Regiment – re-named 1st Battalion RNZIR  from 01 April 1965.

Former Kiwi soldier Percy Simeon is now 74 and lives in Perth, Western Australia.  When I rang him and told him I was holding his General Service Medal 1962 with clasp BORNEO in my hand, he was thunderstruck.  “How did you get that?” he asked.  Being cautious in not knowing the man, and also cognizant that he may also not have his full medal entitlement, I asked him what medals he did have (physically in his possession).  Percy reeled them off – OSM, Pingat Jasa Malaysia, Defence Service … and Borneo GSM!  Percy said he had lost his Borneo GSM years ago but never bothered about getting a replacement since it was only the one medal, and besides he had only joined because his older brother had, and all he wanted was a trip overseas.  

New medals

Percy served in the NZ Army in the mid-1960s.  Since his service, the NZ Operational Service Medal, the NZ Defence Service Medal and the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal have all been instituted post 2002.  These medals were also made available retrospectively to former NZDF veterans like Percy whose military service meets the qualifying criteria for each medal. 

After further discussion with I asked Percy if the GSM was named to him – it wasn’t.  After Percy had settled in Perth, the ex-patriot community, many of whom are former NZ Defence Force veterans, had convinced Percy to apply for the three new medals that his operational service in Malaya and Borneo entitled him to receive. 

NZ Operational Service Medal – operational service is service which exceeds the normal requirements of peacetime service, and which involves a credible military threat from enemy military forces, insurgents, or other hostile forces. The NZ Operational Service Medal was instituted in 2002 and is awarded to any NZDF member posted beyond the shores of New Zealand and our Economic Exclusion Zone, to a qualifying unit for more than seven days.  It is awarded once only to an individual, regardless of how many times he or she has deployed on operations.  The qualifying start date for eligibility of this award is from the end of the Second World War, 3 September 1945 to the present day. 

Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal – the Malayan Emergency was an attempt by the Malayan Communist Part to make Malaya to make Malaya a Chinese Communist State.  Starting in 1948 New Zealand committed the NZ Infantry Regiment in 1957 to assist the UK and Malayan Armed Forces to defeat the insurgents.  The Emergency concluded in 1960 after Malaya had became an independent nation in August 1957.  In 1963 Singapore had also joined the Federation of 14 Malaysian states.  As a result, Indonesia who was opposed to the Malaysian government escalated its insurgent activity in an effort to install communism in Malaysia and bring its government down.  Increased violence on the Malay peninsula which also threatened the Malaysian states on Borneo, bought about a state of ‘confrontation’ (an undeclared war) between the two countries which lasted until 1966.  New Zealand had supported Malaysia continuously since 1957 with a military contribution throughout the Emergency and subsequent ‘confrontation’ with outstanding results second to none. 

In gratitude for New Zealand’s military contribution during these periods of tension and conflict, in 2002 Malaysia offered the New Zealand government the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal available to all veterans of the campaigns who served for 90 days in Malaysia between August 1957 until the end of ‘Confrontation’ in August 1965.  The award was approved in 2004 by the Her Majesty, the Queen of New Zealand, as an official award. 

NZ Defence Service Medal – this medal was instituted in 2011 and requires three continuous or cumulative years of military service in the New Zealand Defence Force in order to qualify for the award.  It attracts four different Clasps: REGULAR, TERRITORIAL, C.M.T., and NATIONAL SERVICE, all off which may be worn if so qualified. 

When Percy made his application for the three new medals he had also asked for the replacement of his lost Borneo GSM.  As the NZDF will only provide the replacement of a lost medal if the person is still serving, Percy had to acquire a Replica medal to add to the three official medals he received from the NZDF.  Official medals are issued named. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR)

At a loose end and with nothing on his radar or planned for the immediate future, Percy Simeon decided to enlist in the NZ Army weeks after his 21st birthday.  The attraction at that time was the potential for a trip to South East Asia.   The 1st Battalion NZ Regiment had been NZ’s contribution to the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade in Malaya to help combat the orchestrated Communist Terrorist (CT) guerrilla war conducted by the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party, that had started pre-Malayan independence, in 1948.  This was the beginning of the Malayan Emergency.

28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Group – shoulder badge

The 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade was a UK led formation that was reformed in 1955 (it had previously operated during the Korean War), as part of the British Commonwealth’s Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR).  The roles of the FESR were to deter communist aggression in South East Asia, and to respond swiftly if deterrence failed.  As a secondary role, the forces committed to the Reserve were to participate in actions against the guerrillas in Malaya.  Since 1956 New Zealand’s military contribution to the FESR had been the NZSAS Squadron which had considerable success in the Malaysian west coast state of Negri Sembilan. Accordingly New Zealand, Fiji and Australia were pressured into making a greater contributions.  

The 28th Infantry Brigade had been originally based at Taiping and was relocated to a brand new purpose-built camp at Terandak near Malacca.  From March 1958, the 1st Battalion NZ Regiment, which replaced the NZSAS Squadron in the Strategic Reserve, took part in operations in Perak.  NZ had maintained an Infantry battalion in Malaya from this time, and together with the Australian, Malaysian, British and SAS contributions to 28th Infantry Brigade, had been highly effective in suppressing MNLA operations by wiping out the majority operating in the Malaya peninsula during the ‘Emergency’.   Remnants of the MNLA guerrilla fighters had escaped across the southern Thai border and went into hiding.

28 Commonwealth Brigade, Terendak Camp – covers an area as big as Lower Hutt. 

1/RNZIR’s “Wellington Lines” at Terendak Camp, Malacca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Malayan ‘Emergency’ officially concluded in July 1960.  A Border Security Zone was established on the Thai-Malay border into which the infantry conducted periodic patrols to deter guerrilla incursions by any MNLA communist terrorists who remained opposed to Malaysia’s independence.  To maintain an on-going battalion strength commitment to the FESR, a second battalion – 2nd Battalion NZ Regiment – was raised at Burnham 1959.  When the 2nd Battalion returned to NZ from its Tour of Duty (TOD) it morphed into the Battalion Depot from which future rotations of battalion personnel were drawn to refresh 1/RNZIR every six months. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Zealand (Infantry) Regiment

It was against this background that 40399 Private Percival Richard SIMEON enlisted at Auckland in January 1963.  A two month period of basic training at the that ever popular, star rated resort that is Waiouru Military Camp and its associated training areas, was Pte. Simeon’s first port of call and introduction to the New Zealand Army. 

Private Percy Simeon, age 21 – 1964

The delightfully scenic Moawhango ‘national park’ atop the central volcanic plateau is the jewel in the Army’s crown.  Rolling hills, lush tussock, where gentle dustings of snow in this winter wonderland are complimented by ‘buku’ opportunities for jogging, skiing, fishing, mushroom gathering, rhythmic exercising and tanning by the pool in summer.  The basic trainee soldier wants for nothing as their ever present, thoughtful and caring Company Sergeant Major (CSM) and his Platoon Sergeant’s guide and coax their prodigies (cast in the  CSM’s own image) by gently whispering timely words of wisdom and encouragement, in dulcet tones into each little shell-like ear.  The pièce de résistance – the ever popular daily ritual of the CSM personal touch, gently waking each tired little ‘teddy bear’ with a personalised cup of hot cocoa and warm, lightly buttered toast before gathering his flock to take in the bracing morning ‘Waiberian’ air with a stroll up “Bukit Waitangi” to gaze upon the majesty of Mount Ruapehu – yeah right!   

From the outset of his military experience Pte. Simeon loved it all!  The training, the comradeship, the PT, food, sports, leave and boy’s nights on the town, and more adventurous things to do than he could have imagined – all great stuff.  Initially he had struggled with the routine and discipline as most do during initial training.  However the longer the training went on the easier it got.  Having survived the rigors of basic training at ‘Waiberia’, Pte. Simeon was posted to ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion, NZ Regiment at Burnham Camp, the home of the Infantry and the New Zealand Regiment which is some 30 km south of Christchurch, to learn the art of becoming an effective Infantry soldier.

Pte. Simeon slowly adjusted to the exacting standards the Army not only expected but demanded of its infantry soldiers, standards that were essential if they were to come back from an operation alive!  Repetitive drills and corrective training soon moulded each man into a reliable member of an eight-man infantry section to the standard the Regiment required.  Each man also learned very quickly the real reason behind the ethos of ‘looking after your mate’.  By the end of the year Pte. Simeon reckoned he could handle just about anything (and anyone!). 

Note:  On the 1st April 1964 the NZ Regiment underwent an organisational re-alignment and was re-named the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR) after the Territorial battalions were absorbed into the new structure and re-numbered.  The 1st Battalion, NZ Regiment therefore became 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1/RNZIR).

‘Confrontation’

Kiwi soldiers patrolling during ‘confrontation’ in  Malaya.

Indonesia’s President Sukarno had remained staunchly opposed to Malaysia’s independence, long after it had become a sovereign nation in 1957.  The mistrust, tension and violent acts had escalated as Sukarno attempted to impose communism on Malaya by using insurgents who had fought a guerrilla war against the Malayan Army and UK led Commonwealth forces during the eight years since independence.  These attempts came to a head during the second half of 1964 when Sukarno ordered a direct attack on the Malay peninsula.  In August and September 1964 Indonesian military insurgents had landed and parachuted into Labis and southern Johore at Ayer Panas, embarking on an undeclared war known as ‘Confrontation’.  The then incumbent 2nd Battalion was moved from its base in Malacca to Majidi Barracks in Johore and placed under the command of the 4th Malaysian Brigade to conducted ‘seek and destroy’ operations against the paratroopers.  At the end of these operations the entire 96 strong Indonesian military insurgent group had either been killed or captured by the Battalion. 

UK Infantry patrol carrying a CT body in Malaya.

From Jahore, the 2nd Battalion was redeployed further north in the state to Benut in Pontian to pursue 30 Indonesian raiders.  

1/RNZIR – “Active Service”

1/RNZIR

Pte. Simeon was ecstatic when his Company Commander, Major McEwen, briefed Alpha Company that the 1st Battalion RNZIR would be deploying on Active Service to Malaysia in March 1965 as part of the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade, FESR.  The battalion would be joining with units and special forces from Australia, Malaysia and Britain to conduct counter insurgency operations against CT guerrillas throughout the Malaysian peninsula, along the Thai-Malay border, and in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the largely Indonesian owned island of Borneo. 

The 1st Battalion’s six month Tour Of Duty (TOD) began in early March 1965 with their airlift from RNZAF Base Whenuapai, via Sydney and Darwin, to RAF Changi in Singapore.  The troops travelled in the relative comfort of an RNZAF Hastings aircraft for the 10 hour flight (inclusive of stops) with Delta Company deployed ahead of Pte. Simeon’s Alpha Company and Support Company.  Delta would make the necessary preparations for the transition from the out-going 2nd Battalion to the “new” 1/RNZIR.  

Jungle patrolling on the Thai-Malay border. 

Once all Companies were on the ground in Singapore, the next stage was the move to Malacca which was going to be a lot less comfortable than the Hastings.  Travelling in the back of a truck from Singapore to Terendak Camp in Malacca, once experienced was never forgotten.  Quite apart from the heat 1/RNZIR had not yet acclimatised to, the local roads had to be experienced to be believed.  Although sealed for the most part, the main north-south route was overall much narrower than NZ roads, typically pot-holed and generally badly maintained, if at all.  Guttering ceased at the boundary of each village or town to be replaced by a 4-6 foot deep monsoon drain that mirrored the path of the road and the only deterrent to inattentive drivers (most of the time).  Road rules were non-existent, it was a case of ‘first in, first served’ when it came to selecting a route through wandering livestock, broken down vehicles, buses and cars in various states of disrepair, overloaded trucks, a plague of taxis with blaring radios, people, children and the ubiquitous Malaysian Armed Forces and Police Field Force’s wheeled and armoured vehicles – all competing for road space on the only road up the middle of the peninsula.

The 1st Battalion’s convoy set off for Malacca, a distance of 247 km which in ideal conditions would take a little over three hours however the conditions were almost never ideal.  The convoy generally would take closer to five or six hours given the ‘diverse’ range of road conditions and traffic on the same route.  Terendak Camp was a large expanse of military real estate that accommodated British, Australian and New Zealand Infantry and Special Forces units plus supporting arms such as artillery, armour, engineers signals, supply, maintenance etc.  In addition British servicemen posted to Malaysia could be accompanied by their families, an option which later became available for all Commonwealth forces posted to the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Group.  Overall there were some 20,000 persons at Terendak which occupied an area roughly the size of Lower Hutt.

1/RNZIR’s base within the boundaries of Terendak Camp was named “Wellington Lines.”  The convoy arrived and the men informed their stay woul be fleeting.  A few days to purchase some personal items and prepare for their first jungle operation was all the troops had before being they were deployed to Thai-Malay border (the Border Security Zone – BSZ) for six weeks.  Here they would acclimatise and assimilate living in the jungle environment, and gain their first experience in counter insurgency.  At the end of the six weeks, the net result of the battalion’s first foray on jungle operations was seven CT camps discovered and destroyed, three CTs captured while a senior CT commander had surrendered to one of the battalion’s junior officers. 

Following the BSZ operation the battalion returned to Terendak, again briefly, before being redeployed to a coastal area  in south-west Jahore where the 2nd Battalion had been so successful six months earlier.  Insurgents had once again become active in Pontian and Kesang.   This operation netted another 8 insurgents killed and 13 captured.  The battalion was redeployed back to the northern border states of Perak and Kelantan for further patrolling operations in the BSZ, and coast-watch duties.

Sarawak, Borneo

A Kiwi patrol moving through a Malaysian village.

Indonesia’s continued belligerence toward Malaysia in opposition to its government had given rise to an escalation of insurgent activity across the Thai-Malay border during 1964 and the first half of 1965.  The North Kalimantan Communist Party (SCO) or Communist Clandestine Organisation (CCO) in the Indonesian state of Kalimantan on the island of Borneo were posing a direct threat to the two Malaysian states on the island.  Sabah comprises the 450 square kilometre northern tip of Borneo, while Sarawak stretches along the north-western coast accounting for about one-third of the island’s land mass.  These threats caused 28 Brigade to deploy additional infantry units to the Border Security Zone and, with its reputation of success in operations to date, 1/RNZIR into Sarawak.

New Zealand jungle camp.

The 1st Battalion deploy into Sarawak in June 1965 as part of the 19th UK Infantry Brigade.  They were moved to Borneo by a combination of air, Malaysian military landing craft and merchant ships to the Sarawak capital of Kuching.  Each of the battalion’s four Companies would establish a base covering strategic points of access across the Malaysia-West Kalimantan (Indonesia) border which if not controlled would otherwise allow the enemy a direct route to Kuching.  Pte. Simeon’s Alpha Company was deployed to the village of Lubok Antu, due east of Kuching near the West Kalimantan border.  Inserted to their destination by river barges, once in location the Company built a fortified patrol base, as did the other three Companies in their respective locations. 

These jungle forts were all within 1–2 kilometres of the Sarawak-Western Kalimantan border.  The battalion was supported by a Malaysian artillery battery, a Squadron of the UK Queen’s Dragoon Guards with armoured cars and an Auster aircraft (for air reconnaissance and artillery fire control), three RAF Whirlwind helicopters, sub units of the Sarawak Police Field Force, and later, two Sioux helicopters of 40 Commando Royal Marines Air Troop were assigned in support.

A wounded CT insurgent is questioned.

Pte. Simeon recalls they mostly patrolled, undertook sentry duty and slept, a routine that was repeated over and over for the best part of the six months they remained on the ground in Lubok Antu.  From experience soldiers are attuned to the fact that time spent on enemy operations is characterized by 95% of the time being routine and boredom, punctuated by 5% of high intensity and adrenaline pumping moments of terror, particularly for a ‘green’ soldier whose out-going bullets are responded to by incoming!  Contacts with the enemy tend to very quickly focus the mind and heighten the senses which when all the repetitive drills and training for such moments automatically kicks in. 

During their six month TOD in Malaya and Borneo, 1/RNZIR inflicted considerable casualties on the enemy without loss of life by any member of the battalion.  Numerous clashes had occurred sometimes with groups of up to 100 or more, and all Companies were engaged and enjoyed success in ambushes and other contacts.  In late October 1965 the 1st Battalion was relieved in Sarawak by the 1st Battalion, Malaysian Rangers, and returned to Terendak. 

By December 1965, Pte. Simeon’s action packed TOD was over – all too quickly he thought.  Following a period of Rest & Recreation he returned to New Zealand and Burnham Camp with Alpha Company in January 1966.  Pte. Simeon subsequently discharged from the NZ Army in March 1966 having completed three years of regular and operational service.  For his service in Malaysia and Borneo Pte. Simeon was awarded the General Service Medal 1962, with clasp BORNEO.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note: Both of Pte. Percy Simeon’s brothers were NZ Army Infantrymen who also served in South East Asia.

  • E303236 Sergeant David (Dave) SIMEON – 1st Battalion, NZ Regiment and 1/RNZIR – 28 C’wealth Infantry Brigade, FESR and WHISKEY 3, 1/RNZIR att 6th RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion.  Sgt. Dave Simeon enlisted in Jan 1956-57 for the 19th Intake of Compulsory Military Training (CMT) and served with the 1st Battalion Northland Regiment.  He re-enlisted in May 1959 – Jun 1964 for service in Malaya with 2nd Battalion, NZ Regiment during the Malayan  Emergency, Singapore and at the Battalion Depot, Burnham.  In 1963, Sgt Simeon enlisted for a third time and deployed overseas in Nov 1965 – Nov 1967 for service in Borneo, Malaya and Singapore with 1st Battalion, NZ Regiment – 1/RNZIR (title changed 01 Apr 1964).  From May 1968 – May 1970 Sgt Simeon served with WHISKEY 3 (W3) Company, 1/RNZIR attached to 6th RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion as part of the 1st Australian Task Force in South Vietnam.  Sgt Dave Simeon died in New Zealand on 16 March 2009 at the age 74.  For his service Sgt. Simeon was awarded the following medals: NZ OSM, NZ GSM (clasp: MALAYA [1960-64]), GSM 1962 (clasp: BORNEO), Vietnam Medal, NZ Army Long Service & Good Conduct Medal, NZ GSM 1992 (Warlike – clasp: VIETNAM), NZ Defence Service Medal (clasp: REGULAR), Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal, South Vietnamese Campaign Medal.  

  • 42463 Private Samuel Joseph (Joe) SIMEON – 1/RNZIR, Victor 2 Company (V2), Anzac Battalion – Pte. Joe Simeon (ka Joe Himeona) is a veteran of the Vietnam War.  He served with VICTOR 2 from Nov 1967 – May 1968.  Pte. Simeon was awarded the following medals: NZ OSM, NZ GSM 1992 (clasp: VIETNAM), Vietnam Medal, NZ Defence Service Medal (clasp: REGULAR), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Back to ‘Civvy Street’ 

Percy Simeon returned to his home in Auckland and in due course married Martha June REWETI. They settled into the family home in Market Road, Pokeno, Pukekohe and had a family of two sons, William (Will) and Richard (Rick) Simeon.  Following his discharge from the army into ‘civvy street’ Percy had joined the Ministry of Works (MOW) as a labourer (formerly the Public Works Department, later the Ministry of Works and Development, now dissolved) with whom he spent the next 28 years.  In 1994 as a result of an organizational restructure, Percy was made redundant.  Not overly concerned, Percy took a couple of years off before returning to full-time work with the Nestlé company as a driver.  It was during this time that Percy’s wife Martha sadly passed away in 1999.  In 2008 after 14 years of loyal service to Nestlé, Percy at 65 was once again made redundant.

Finding  Percy?

I started my search for Percival Richard Simeon in the North Island Electoral Rolls, finding only three entries – 1969,  the Northern Maori Roll (Ngapuhi) placed Percy, Martha and son Joseph at 14 Leighton St, Grey Lynn Auckland.  The other two entries in 1978 and 1981 were both in the Western Maori Roll of Waikato, the first Percy and Martha only were in Marlborough St, Pokeno (near Pukekohe) and the second, both were living at 25 Market Road in Pokeno.  That left me a 38-year gap in which to try and trace Percy.  Luck however was definitely on my side when I checked the on-line phone directory and found the Simeon name still associated with 25 Market Road.  I called the number and spoke with a woman who identified herself as the wife of Percy’s #2 son Rick, Rangiatea COOPERS.   

Rangiatea told me her father-in-law was living in Perth, Western Australia with Rick’s brother, Will Simeon.  When Percy had finished at Nestlé he was 65 years of age and had decided to call it quits on the work front for good.  In 2008 Percy had packed up his personal possessions, turned the house in Market Road over to Rick and Rangiatea and went to live with #1 son Will, in Perth. 

Rangiatea went on to say the Simeons, originally from Northland where Percy was born, had lived in the Pokeno house since Rick’s grandfather had lived there.  It had remained a Simeon family home ever since – that was over 50 years ago!  Given Percy’s history of longevity in his two civvy jobs, it was hardly surprising Rick and Rangiatea were the third generation of Simeons to be still living at Market Road. 

Percy also told me later after I had made contact with him, the car that Rick was driving was a Black 1957 Ford V8 which had been in his family continuously since Percy’s father had had it from new.  After nine years of ownership, Percy’s father was no longer able to drive and so passed ownership over to Percy.  His dad had fussed over the car as one would a new baby, keeping it in immaculate order until he handed the keys to Percy.  The same fastidious maintenance of the V8 his father had insisted upon, Percy continued to uphold for the next 37 years during his period of ownership.  Percy reckoned it was a fantastic ‘chick magnet’ in his younger days and that he had used it on numerous occasions for weddings, shows and formal events etc – he was never without a few extra dollars as long as he had that car.  He was still driving the gleaming ’57 Ford that he kept polished within a millimetre of its lengthy life until he made the decision to move to Perth.  Rick being ‘Johnny on the spot’ was the next member of the Simeon dynasty to be the recipient of the keys (and the Market Road house).  Since then Rick has continued the same traditions of maintenance and presentation of the black 1957 Ford V8 insisted upon by his father and established by his grandfather before him.  Rick is still driving the Simeon family heirloom eleven years on.

“They don’t build ‘em like this one any more, eh Henry?”

Journey of Percy’s GSM

The separated ribbon bar scroll and medal showing the sockets that detached from the embedded pins.

Percy Simeon’s General Service Medal with clasp Borneo was sent to me by a former military colleague, Terry McA. who had found the medal some 40 years ago in a desk drawer at his place of work – the medal was in two pieces.  Terry doesn’t know who or how the medal came to be in the draw, he had never heard of “P. R. Simeon” and neither had anyone else who worked in the same office, so it could have been there for some considerable time given its vintage?  Terry left the medal in the draw and thought no more about it.  When he left his appointment several years later, Terry did as many of us tend to do and emptied his desk drawers into a box and moved out.

Forty odd years later and well retired, Terry happened to see the ‘Good Sorts’ program on Sunday TV3 when Hayden Jones featured the work of MRNZ and immediately recognized me as a former work colleague.  This prompted him to recall the medal he had found all those years ago and so he sought it out (still in the same box) and sent it to me to hopefully reunite with its owner or descendant family.

Once I saw the medal I understood how Percy might have lost it.  The medal itself was not damaged save for the odd knock, however the ribbon suspender scroll had separated from the medal, leaving the two retaining pins embedded and exposed in the top edge of the medal.  The scroll had somehow become detached from the two pins which originally had acted as rivets to firmly hold the two components together.  An error during assembly, prolonged exposure to heat or cold, exposure to liquid fuels/oils or perhaps the medal had been dropped on a hard surface, run over or inadvertently struck.  Any of these circumstances or similar conditions could have caused the metals to expand, contract or move thereby loosening the pins in their sockets of the scroll and separation of the two parts. 

Percy in Perth

When I eventually spoke with Percy he had no idea when or how his medal was lost.  This tended to indicate the damage may have occurred after he misplaced it.  Had Percy been wearing the medal at the time the two parts separated, the brooch, ribbon and suspender scroll would still have been attached to his clothing.  Assuming then that the medal had come apart when it was not being worn meant it could have happened anywhere, at any time without the knowledge of the owner.  NZDF’s lost medal policy guidance is clear – the responsibility for reporting any loss or damage of a medal, or requesting a replacement, is the soldier’s but is only applicable while serving.  Percy did neither.  After discharge the replacement or repair of a lost or damaged medal rests with the individual.  

Percy Simeon’s original General Service Medal 1962 with clasp BORNEO has now been sent to him in Perth.  It will be a relatively simple job for a jeweller to reconnect the two parts.  Thanks to Terry McA Percy’s medal will be reunited with the three recently issued medals Percy has received, thus returning his medal group to being 100% original and official with all medals named to 40339 PTE P. R. SIMEON  RNZIR. 

RTNZ ?

What of the future?  It was fairly clear in talking to Percy he had no immediate plans to RTNZ (army speak for Return to New Zealand).  He remains in Perth with son Will and is thoroughly enjoying the weather, his friends and a relaxed lifestyle.  He says there is no point in coming back to Aotearoa as there are so many Kiwis in Perth, it feels more like home than home anyway.  Percy reckons the next time he does return will only be to be carried to his final resting place in his family’s urupa at Taipa near the mouth of the  Oruru River on the shores of Doubtless Bay in Northland.  In the meantime there are still many good times with whanau and friends to be had in Perth.  

ONWARD Percy !

The reunited medal tally is now 251.

PS – MRNZ is also helping Percy to get his brother, the late Cpl. Dave Simeon’s medals – which David never did !

Footnote: Approximately 4000 New Zealand servicemen served in Malaya/Malaysia/Borneo between 1948 and 1966, of whom  22 lost their lives – just three as a result of enemy action.  Those New Zealand servicemen who had been buried in cemeteries around South East Asia were repatriated to New Zealand in 2017 and re-interred in either a Service’s cemetery or private family grave.