BEFORE THE KING.
o V.C. MAN'S EXPERIENCE,
SERGT. C. BASSETT DESCRIBES THE SCENE.
Writing from the N.Z. Base Camp at Hornchurch (England) to his mother (who is at present in Wellington), Sergeant Cyril Bassett, V.C., of Auckland, says, under date March 3 : "I have received my medal at last, and it's all over now. I drove to Buckingham Palace in a motor car with Captain Shera and Lielits Bishop and Turnbull, three Military Cross men, and there His
Majesty the King pinned on my decoration. I had to stand at attention facing him whilst the account of my action was read to! the King, and then 1 advanced up to within about three paces .when I bowed, and the King said to me : 'You are the first New Zealander to receive the decoration?' I said, 'Yes, Your Majesty.' Whereupon he said, 'I am proud to congratulate you!' and at the same time shaking hands with me. He then said something about the gallant way the colonials had gathered round the flag, after which I backed out of the chamber.
"When I got to the gates of
the Palace I was met by a lot of my pals and officers, who congratulated me, and then I had to undergo the ordeal of having my photograph taken by a battery of 30 or. 40 cameras, who pushed and jostled to get a snap at me. The 'movies' were there, too, and we had to stand for them. People, perfect strangers, came up and shook hands with me, and at last I arrived at the place the boys had guided me to. With the Camp Band and fifty men as my escort I had to fall in in the place of honour, and away we marched to the Hotel Windsor in Victoria Street, where Sir Thomas Mackenzie was giving me a complimentary luncheon. We had a decent lunch, but I'm afraid my speech wasn't the most brilliant, You know—as soon as I stood up to reply to Sir Thomas's words the boys cheered and stamped and roared so that all the lovely speech I had prepared went. Goodness, I nearly broke down, but. managed to thank them all in about a sentence, and then sat down. Major Dawson was as proud as Punch. After the] luncheon he took me down to! camp and to dinner at the officers' mess. The officers all drank my health. But at last it was all over, and I wasn't sorry. My photo was in all the papers the next day, and I am sending some of them to you. . . The National Bank of New Zealand directors gave me a pleasant surprise about a month ago. They gave me £100 worth of bank shares as a token of their appreciation. Mr
James Coates was, I think, at the bottom of it. ... I have just had another promotion to sergeant (Bassett was a private when lie won his V.C.). I am leaving the camp on March 13 for Tunbridge Wells to undergo a course of signalling. ... I am billeted with a lady named Mrs and her daughter and son. It's a regular home from horne —they can't do enough for me."
In connection with the above letter, it is interesting to know that the writer's father, Corporal Bassett (aged 5-3 years) will parade with the 12th Reinforcements to-day.
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BEFORE THE KING., Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXV, Issue 3545, 12 May 1916