Colonel Reginald Frank Gambrill gives the toast to the Homefront at the reunion of ex-service people held at Uepohatu Marae in 1947.
He served with 1st (Hawke's Bay Company) Wellington Regiment at Gallipoli and on the Western Front during the First World War. He was also Commanding Officer of the Hauraki Regiment from 1924-26. After the war he held many roles including Dominion Vice-President of the Returned Services Association.
The marae hosted events held on the 12th and 13th of September that included cultural competitions with local school children and the opening of the Uepohatu War Memorial Hall. The hall was built to commemorate East Coast soldiers who died during the two World Wars.
A reunion of ex-service people (including members of the Maori Battalion) was also held.
At the Investiture held on the second day, seventeen decorations were presented to servicemen and women who had served abroad and on the home front.
The gathering was an important one. attended by thousands including the Prime Minister Peter Fraser, the Leader of the Opposition Sidney Holland and other members of Parliament. Sir Bernard Freyberg, the Governor General opened the hall and unveiled two memorial tablets inside.
Lieutenant Colonel Awatere: That’s the stuff. Well now the next toast ladies and gentlemen is the Homefront and I have the pleasure of calling upon Colonel RF Gambrill to give that toast.This will be followed with an item by the Tairawhiti Kiwi Club and a response will be given by the Right Honourable P Fraser Prime Minister followed by Mr HG Holland MP and the Honourable ET Tirikatene. Now ladies and gentlemen -Colonel Gambrill.
Colonel Gambrill: Gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, Your Excellency, fellow Diggers and Kiwis, distinguished visitors and guests. My toast is the Homefront. I couple it with the distinguished names of the Right Honourable Mr Fraser the Prime Minister, Mr HG Holland MP and the Honourable Mr ET Tirikatene.
My toast is the Homefront, by only a few minutes. Not all of us can go to war.Some of us were too old, others were too young. Some were indispensable, some were unfit; some had committed misdemeanours and were not wanted. A few, a very few did not desire to go. But in one direction or another each and everyone contributed his little or his lot to the effort on the Homefront. And having been denied the privilege of service overseas which is a privilege that all your fellows have, is yet worth of remembrance at a party such as this.
The women who worked and watched and waited and worked again. The men who did their own job and another job. Your own Sir Apirana who did ten mens’ jobs. [applause] The Independent Mounted Rifles, the National (?), the Homeguardsmen who wore out his Sunday, his gardening clothes, his second best, his Sunday suit with coupons scarce trained to meet the invader who very nearly got here but just failed. He wants no medals, he now reveres his pair of boots - they are his reward. He learned to know and to respect his neighbour. The men and women of the EPS and a lot of personages of other services and patriotic organisations. The men and women on the farms, and in the factories and in the offices. All the workers on the Homefront and once again, the women, struggling with their coupons who watched and prayed fearfully. All of these and many more I ask you to remember in this toast. They worked upon the Homefront, but what of the Homefront now.
Today our friends in Britain face an economic dunkirk. The Battle of the food for Britain is upon us. Boys our comrades up the line are hungry. What are you going to do about it?
The war continues, the fruits of our military victories have not been garnered. You fought for peace, peace. Not for any uneasy pause of insecurity between two periods of active service. Two bloodbaths - are we to have a third? Peace can be secured only by action upon the Homefront. Governments and institutions can not confer peace, acts of parliament can not give it to us. We, we, you and I must achieve it. Peace is of the spirit, something for the hearts and minds of men and women. You and me, each individual, it is our personal responsibility.
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...in victory as at Dunkirk, in a moment set aside for silent prayer. During the shining of (?). How we pray, each and every one of us alone knows, the answer we all know. The utterances of our greatest leaders proves that those prayers were answered. Let us then on the Homefront work for peace, pray for peace, fight for peace and beware the expedience of disarmament and appeasement. We’ve tried that and they were found wanting.
Peace comes from understanding and understanding from knowledge and goodwill. Here you have goodwill here tonight as ever in any soldiers gathering. Goodwill between men and men based on the selfless service and self sacrifice. Between race and race based upon mutual trust and common understanding. And may I say between party and party, based upon our friend the Right Honourable the Prime Minister and the Leader of his Opposition.
For final victory on the Homefront the praying need is goodwill on earth, between man and man, group and group, party and party, religion and religion; Jew and Gentile, the (?) and Hindu, race and race and finally nation and nation. Then and only then will we have peace and victory. Armies for war comprise a mass of individuals. Armies for peace must be even stronger, made up of individuals and you can’t conscript for peace. No individual can escape his share of the responsibility for success with what man is now attempting. Peace that it’s so far failed to achieve. It is not impossible, just forget the isms and try Christianity. You fellows won the victory in the field, now we must all win the peace. Or else face the holocaust. We have the most powerful weapons on earth to win the peace – thought, prayer, goodwill. Thoughts can be atoms, properly applied it can control what it (?). Wants, fear, ignorance, intolerance, hatred are the enemies.
Let your association with the Returned Services Association be a beacon for goodwill throughout our fair land, spreading its fight among the whole community. Then truly will the memorial which tomorrow you will dedicate will typify the aim for which those who it commemorates gave up their lives. Let their spirits guide us onto the peace, peace on earth to men and goodwill. I ask you to be upstanding with charged glasses and to toast, be upstanding. Ladies and gentlemen be upstanding and toast the toast of the Homefront coupled with the names of those distinguished gentlemen to whom I have already referred.
Ladies and gentlemen I give you the toast – the Homefront.