The passing of the last WWII Pacific Islands Coast Watcher
NZ Post acknowledges the passing away of the last of the WWII Pacific Islands Coast Watchers
NZ Post today acknowledged the death aged 96 of John Jones, one of the “Coastwatchers” who manned coastwatching stations throughout the Pacific during the Second World War to track enemy movements.
Mr Jones was a volunteer radio operator, a telegraphist with radio training employed by the then Post and Telegraph Department, which was a forerunner of what are today NZ Post, Spark and Chorus.
After the War, he was instrumental in ensuring a brutal and tragic event on the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati) was not forgotten.
On 15 October 1942, 10 New Zealand soldiers and seven Post and Telegraph Department radio operators on Tarawa, Gilbert Islands were executed by Japanese forces. Mr Jones was working on a northern atoll and, along with others, was taken prisoner and interred under harsh conditions until the end of the war.
NZ Post Chief Executive Brian Roche said Mr Jones tirelessly represented and advocated for his colleagues over many years.
“John leaves a lasting legacy as someone who kept this terrible event and the memory of his mates alive.”
His determination that they would be recognised and honoured was a significant contributing factor in the erection of a memorial wall at NZ Post House in Wellington in 2014, Brian Roche said.
Mr Jones unveiled the wall at a ceremony in front of family members and friends of the Coastwatchers.