Funeral Service for ‘Curly’ BlythVeterans' Affairs
I count it as a privilege to represent the New Zealand government here today as we salute Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Blyth – a truly special New Zealander.
Curly had a long and distinguished military career. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery during World War One. He had distinguished command with the 2nd and 5th battalions of the Auckland Regiment during World War Two.
We should also mention the Auckland menswear business he ran until aged 88, and acknowledge his work since retirement with World War One veterans and in enhancing New Zealand-French relations.
It was his involvement in one of New Zealand Army’s last actions in the First World War, the liberation of the French town of Le Quesnoy, which began this lifelong association with France, and for which Curly is perhaps best remembered.
Curly Blyth and the other New Zealanders who scaled the ramparts of Le Quesnoy in November 1918, shortly before the Great War ended, forged a bond with the inhabitants of that town which endures to this day, and which exemplifies the heroism of New Zealand soldiers on battlefields far away.
As a small country, we have time and again sent our young people to serve in distant lands. Today, we have servicemen and women contributing to peacekeeping and security efforts in 12 different countries.
Through these contributions and through our diplomatic, aid and other efforts to end aggression, New Zealand continues to strive for a world in which we, our children, and all other peoples can live free from the threat of violence oppression and suffering.
We must continue to make this effort in the future, in memory of those like Curly Blyth who have fought for our freedom in the past.
Curly Blyth received numerous decorations and honours throughout his long and colourful life. He received France’s highest military decoration, the Legion of Honour, and last year, as a mark of enduring respect and affection, a street in the village of Beaudignies, near Le Quesnoy, was named after him.
The awarding of the New Zealand Order of Merit earlier this year was certainly richly deserved.
It is a mark of this extraordinary New Zealander, born in the 19th Century, that he should earn and receive a major accolade such as the Order of Merit in the 21st century.
Curly Blyth's family and friends can justifiably be extremely proud of his achievements. He was a man of courage and duty, of generosity, of compassion and humour. Lt Col Blyth was a truly remarkable New Zealander. He will be missed – and through the lives of all those he touched and inspired, he will be remembered