A man and his dog

REID, Piers Martin. CBE, DLitt(Hon), MDefStud, Reg.No.U30723, Major General, of Palmerston North.

Some sad news in the inbox last night as Massey University’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies announced…

It is with sadness that we advise that a friend, colleague and mentor to staff and to many students over the years, Major General Piers Reid, passed away at 21:00 (9.00pm) on 2 October 2012.

A graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Piers served a double-tour in Vietnam, and then proceeded to advance to Chief of Army. He was with our Centre for more than a decade, including Director in the first half of the 2000s, after which he continued to lecture in defence studies and military history until this semester.

Some weeks ago, Piers was diagnosed with a serious illness (cancer). At his and his family’s request, this information was not distributed widely, and so we were not in a position to use Stream to advise people of his illness. Piers remained independent until the end, and his death was dignified and peaceful.

Friends are invited to attend a service for Piers at the Beauchamp Crematorium Chapel, 167 John F Kennedy Drive, Palmerston North on Monday October 8th 2012 at 2pm.

Piers Reid succeeded Tony Birks as Chief of General Staff just after I was commissioned. Almost his first act in the job was to scrub the previously approved  proposed new service dress for the Army which a. made my life as the new SO3 Clothing really interesting and b. was probably quite a good idea as I am not sure how how long the Zoot Suit Riot look would have remained in vogue before it just looked silly…the service dress that the Army wears today, more traditional in both style and colours, is the result of that decision.

Noting that nowhere in a general’s job description does it say anything about making a young lieutenant’s life easy, seeing the clothing projects through to completion  in his administration was not too burdensome and never dull nor boring.  Before anyone starts bleating about ‘loggie generals’ let’s not forget that this ‘loggie general’ signed off on an awful lot of good kit for soldiers including:

  • Decent combat boots
  • DPM combat clothing that didn’t change colour between batches or like like it was an end run from some third world banana republic army.
  • Mustang knee-length Goretex socks.
  • Running shoes  as an entitlement for all soldiers putting an end to the need for soldiers units with a higher requirement for physical fitness having to buy their own.
  • Reflex wet weather clothing designed by Kathmandu (apologies to all the self-appointed experts out there but at the time this was a better performer than Goretex.
  • Windproof Ventile smocks.
  • Nomex fleece fleece jackets that wouldn’t burst into flame as soon as a lit cigarette or Hexi cooker looked at them.

Not a bad legacy for just a ‘loggie general’….

He also brought back the classic peaked cap for officers – for a whole six months until his successor killed it off again…

In the course of these projects, I got to know Piers Reid quite well, learned of his time in Vietnam, a story not well known but probably not mine to tell…it turned out that we both loved military music and I recall one afternoon  chatting with him at the rehearsal for the Remembrance Day Service in Wellington Cathedral – the band struck up Scipio, the traditional slow march and , as the introductory drum roll ended we both smiled sheepishly as our right legs reflexively shot forward for the first step of the slow march – Scipio for those not in the know starts with two drum roles, the ned of the second being the cue for soldiers to commence marching, using just the beat of the drum to stay in step…

Even those I was never any drill maestro, we did have drill down to an art form in those days, often just working off cues in the music as commands and that memory from that day in the Cathedral is always the one that springs to mind first when I think of Piers.

I would see Piers from time to time when I was working at Massey and it always struck me how fit and well he looked and so it is all the more a shock to hear that he has passed away so quickly…

3 thoughts on “A man and his dog

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