Final farewell for brave veteran and community man

A war veteran who saw the horrors of atomic devastation in Japan and was involved in raids behind enemy lines has died.

Sandy Brunt, who was later awarded the MBE for his services to the community in Christchurch, was 99.

Mr Brunt led the volunteer team at the Cathedral Square police kiosk for 13 years. He was involved in its inception in 1986, and the ‘Speak Up’ campaign which encouraged people to report crime earned him an MBE.

His long-time friend, retired Detective Inspector Mal Griebel, said Mr Brunt was the ideal man to run the volunteer team because he had a great passion for justice.

He was one of the nicest, most decent people he’d ever met, said Mr Griebel.

“He willingly gave of his time to help the community, his family, his church, the New Zealand Police and, even when he was in his late 80s, visited the elderly and the lonely.”

Mr Brunt joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in 1940, serving in the Fleet Air Arm from 1941-45.

Sandy Brunt

His first assignment was an 18-month stint with an Albacore Squadron – the 826 – based in Egypt.

The biplanes were mainly involved in desert operations, dropping flares to pinpoint enemy targets for RAF bombers.

His Distinguished Service Cross was awarded for his part in an attack on an enemy convoy while operating from a temporary airstrip behind enemy lines in the desert.

Returning to Britain in 1943, Mr Brunt was posted to the 834 Squadron stationed in Exeter, which at the time was operating against enemy motor torpedo boats in the English Channel.

Shortly after the 834 Squadron was transferred to Ireland, where they “worked up” the aircraft carriers HMS Hunter
and HMS Battler before being
sent for six months into the Red Sea to conduct anti-submarine
patrols between Aden and Bombay.

At the end of June, 1945, he was posted to the HMS Speaker which was part of the British Pacific Fleet for the remainder of World War 2.

The HMS Speaker went to Nagasaki and took out prisoners of war from the camps.

Mr Griebel said he’d heard his friend talk about the experience on just one occasion.

“He said when he got there he was appalled at the devastation. He couldn’t grasp the magnitude of what had happened,” recalled Mr Griebel.

After returning from the war, he joined the Sumner Cricket Club and went on to play until the age of 49.

He had hoped to play until he was 50, but said that when you get to the stage where you “drop all your catches, get no wickets and don’t make any runs, it’s time to give it away.”

In 1954 he married Rona
and shortly after built a house on Kinsey Tce in Sumner.

The couple lived there until the February 22, 2011, earthquake.

Mrs Brunt said her husband was a handyman who was “capable of doing anything.”

They raised two children – a son Tony and daughter Jenny.

An active member of the Sumner Lifeboat Institution for several years, he went on to establish the Sumner Lifeboat Replacement Fund and was a charter member of the Christchurch South Lions Club in 1966.

Tony said in a speech at his father’s 90th birthday that Mr Brunt was a man of courage and conviction.

“Someone who set himself goals and worked diligently to reach them. But they have seldom been selfish goals. It’s fair to say that most of dad’s energies have gone to making other people’s lives better.”

Mr Brunt was born on August 14, 1918, and died on May 21.

A memorial service will be held at 2pm on Tuesday at St Andrews Church, Main Rd, Redcliffs.