Ray Moncur, one of Cambridge’s enduring veterans and a man known for his links to the town’s sporting communities, has died aged 102.
Ray was one of the few who were awarded life membership to the Cambridge Returned Services Association (RSA). When family gathered to celebrate his June 7 centenary in 2019, he was acutely aware that the following day marked the 75th anniversary of the 1944 Allies’ D-Day landings in France.
His World War II service with K Section Signals, 5th New Zealand Infantry Brigade, 2nd NZEF, saw him deploy in North Africa, arriving in Egypt just before the battle of El Alamein. His service earned him several medals, yet he spoke rarely of his harrowing wartime experiences, at one point alluding to the horrors of German fighter planes strafing unprotected convoys and his many narrow escapes.
Ray was born in Auckland in 1919 and lost his father when just three years old. After his early primary education, he went to Dilworth School at age nine. He left there at 15 to start a 42-year Post Office career that began as a telegraph messenger boy at Auckland’s Chief Post Office and take him to Newmarket, Kaikohe, Kaitaia and Albany before he enlisted in 1941.
After the war ended, he came home and married his late wife Roie in December 1945. The pair had met in a milk-bar in Newmarket in 1939.
Ray’s continuing Post Office career took him around Auckland, to Shannon, Eastbourne and Waiuku. The couple moved to Cambridge in 1954, and it was here that he retired from the Post Office in 1976, and in 1982 from a later job he took at Aotearoa Meat Works.
Cambridge offered a raft of opportunities for the avowed sports lover. He had played 1st XI cricket and 1st XV rugby at Dilworth and became an active member of both the Cambridge Swimming Club and the Cambridge Rugby Referees’ Sub-Association for decades. His many roles with the swimming club included that of president, club captain, club announcer, coach and publicity officer. In the late 1960s he was awarded the Gordon Bridson Trophy in acknowledgment of his outstanding service to the club. Equally skilled at bowling, Ray became Waikato singles champion at one stage and played well into his 80s. He was made a life member of both the Cambridge Swimming Club and the Leamington Bowling Club.
Ray and Roie were parents to four children. For the past few years, he had lived at Cambridge Resthaven, and it is there that he died on August 28.