Waiuku born, RSA Franklin’s stalwart and World War 2 veteran Everard ‘Ev’ Otto (95) served in the New Zealand Army Service Corps and was situated at the ‘Battle of Monte Cassino‘ which ran from 17 January – 18 May 1944. He and many of his fellow soldiers were aged in their early 20’s.
The battle lasted 123 days and saw 240,000 allies troops, 4000 planes and 1900 tanks from around the world up against the German and Italian troops of 140,000. There were 55,000 allies casualties and 20,000 German/Italian casualties. It was one of the most costly series of assaults of the war.
Last week, Ev Otto received a hand written letter from the United States of America from a young man thanking him for his service after reading an article about Ev’s effort to save our New Zealand flag.
Below is a transcript of the letter.
6 March 2017
Dear Mr Otto,
I hope you are well and in good health on the day you recieve this letter. I also hope that I have the correct address. My name is Christopher, I am 22 years old and I live in the United States in Kentucky. One of my hobbies is reaching out to veterans of the second world war around the globe.
I have never thanked a New Zealander for their service, so I wanted to do so now. I saw an article which talked about your service during the war, participatory at Monte Cassino. As an American, I cannot speak for New Zealand, but nevertheless I would like to thank you for serving. I respect everyone’s service. To me, Monte Cassino is important because it was exceptionally violent. To anyone who served there I give you endless respect and admiration.
The article said that you campaigned to save the New Zealand flag, and for this I also respect you. The flag of New Zealand is iconic and represents the military service of the Kiwis in multiple wars. I hope it does not bother you if I ask for a signed photograph of the flag. This would mean a lot to me.
I hope that the passing of time never erodes the memory of everyone from your country who has undergone military service. It was important for me to reach out to you because I wanted to emphasize to a New Zealander that their service is not forgotten. Please accept my apologies if I have bothered you or written to the wrong address.
Update: Ev Otto passed away aged 98 on Tuesday 21/04/2020.