North Canterbury News: June 28, 2022

You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

Peter Charles Richard<br />

Cornelius<br />

25.07.1935 - 01.07.2021<br />

“It’s been a<br />

good ride”<br />

Chatting about Dad, and sharing with you all<br />

– officially called an Obituary.

Where do you start when<br />

you are writing about your<br />

own Dad? This pondering<br />

has taken a while. Wanting<br />

to put something into print,<br />

and to thank others for<br />

their friendships, that have<br />

come about since Dad<br />

had ‘finished his ride’<br />

on this earth.<br />

So, let’s start at the<br />

beginning ‘it’s a very<br />

good place to start . . .’<br />

as the song goes.<br />

– Susan Waller<br />

Early Days<br />

First memories- this has to be life through the RAF. Dad<br />

was in the RAF (69th entry, <strong>28</strong>th August 1951) through<br />

which he met our mum when in Australia. He had<br />

arrived there on his 21st Birthday, 25th July 1956, at<br />

RAAF Edinburgh Field, Adelaide, as part of Operation<br />

Buffallo, to do with the Atomic Bomb tests at Maralinga<br />

(49 Squadron). He was a Corporal Technician, 586929<br />

and calibrated the navigational and bombing equipment<br />

on the Valiant (Green Satin radar equipment).<br />

Upon his return to Australia in July 1958, with 543<br />

Squadron he met up with Janet Paltridge, who was<br />

on night nursing shifts, and after 2 weeks courting<br />

(understand Adelaide River Bridge was a popular<br />

place!), they continued in communication. He proposed<br />

by post and mum made the 5 week ship journey to<br />

England, arriving on 11th October 1959, and started her<br />

new life.<br />

They were married 23rd January 1960 at Watford,<br />

Hertfordshire, and spent their early married days moving<br />

around Norfolk in Caravans, a flat and RAF Married<br />

quarters. My earliest memories are from these days,<br />

when I was approx. 3 years old. Blackberry bushes, toy<br />

box under the stairs, and having a photograph taken<br />

with my younger brother, Richard (‘Itchy’, because I<br />

could not say Richard!)<br />


Back to before Mum, myself or brother Richard (Itchy)<br />

appeared on the scene, Dad had been evacuated<br />

during the war, and it was a pleasure in recent years<br />

to have ‘email conversations’ with him, and using<br />

the modern internet to not only know about these<br />

early days, but to also see ‘Google maps’ and find<br />

out about his growing up days in Plymouth and<br />

evacuated to Liskeard. Many fascinating life stories<br />

and experiences. Dad’s parents had been ‘separate’<br />

for many years due to Grandad being in the Royal<br />

Marines, so Dad’s older sister Pat, and younger<br />

brother Colin, where born years apart. One of the<br />

most moving things Dad shared was the first time he<br />

saw his Dad.<br />

6 years old, while evacuated at Liskeard, he was<br />

playing outside a neighbours house, and saw this man<br />

walking down the street, and shouted out ‘It’s my Dad!<br />

It’s my Dad! No dad we don’t live here, we live next<br />

door’ or words very similar to that, is what he shared.<br />

To go back further, Dad was almost born in Malta<br />

(Grandma had saved up for her and their daughter<br />

Pat, to join Grandad when he was posted there), but<br />

she chose to return to England. Malta is one of those<br />

countries that has been a special place for Dad, he<br />

also spent some time there with the RAF. (As a side<br />

note, Grandad (Sydney Charles Cornelius) was in the<br />

Royal Marines in WW1 and WW2, and wrote about<br />

his experience on 21st November 1918, as Captains’<br />

buglar, on the bridge of the “Orion”, he witnessed the<br />

surrender of the German High Sea Fleet surrender to<br />

the Allies. He never spoke about it to us, but I guess<br />

we never asked either!<br />

543 Sqdn Photo Reconnas<br />

Trials Team<br />

R.A.A.F Edinburgh Field<br />

South Australia<br />

August 1958<br />

Dad was a very keen motorcyclists and<br />

rode Triumph motorbikes (his first bike<br />

when 19yrs in 1955, was a 1955 199c<br />

Triumph T20 Tiger Cub (photo for you!),<br />

then a T20C competition model, and<br />

rode that for ‘the One-hour Sunbeam<br />

MCC Trial at Silverstone’ and won a 1st<br />

M/Class pewter tankard (Richard now<br />

has this). He relayed many stories of his<br />

RAF biking days. Both some RAF antics<br />

and motorcycling experiences, and it’s<br />

through these that you start to realise<br />

that your Dad ‘was in fact young’ and<br />

not just a dad!!! He soon changed to a<br />

car when mum arrived (this was a brief<br />

intermission in his biking life).<br />


The RAF and<br />

Family Man<br />

Mum and Dad’s first home together (a caravan in<br />

Snettersham, Norfolk) included a model railway<br />

(TT3 Great Western Railway), alsation dog, no<br />

running water or mains electricity! When I joined<br />

them in 1961, Mum’s parents had came over<br />

from Australia for approx. a year, and stayed<br />

in a nearby caravan. Dad took photos of us all<br />

going on trips out together. Gosh so many more<br />

wonderful stories and memories relayed, but have<br />

to stop it there!<br />

Our final RAF family home together was at RAF<br />

Marham, (dad 49 squadron and still with Valiants).<br />

Richard joined us 23rd December 1963 (little<br />

‘itchy’). Dad spoke about the model railway<br />

club in the museum at the base, and living in<br />

RAF married quarters, said it was not really for a<br />

family (so different than today). There are some<br />

fabulous family photos of us in this home, garden,<br />

birthdays and picnics. Dad has always taken<br />

lots of photos, and when we came to empty their<br />

family home in 2021, there seemed to be every<br />

camera he had ever owned in the cupboard,<br />

along with boxes of slides and prints!<br />

Dad left the RAF in 1965 and after us all living<br />

briefly with his parents, we moved to 131<br />

Longcroft, Watford. I can still remember us all<br />

moving in, and Dad worked hard on making<br />

that house into a home. We had another dog<br />

join us, and he chewed the wood that Dad<br />

had pannelled the kitchen wall! Richard and I<br />

started school, and mum walked us there and<br />

back every day! Dad worked with IBM, the<br />

early days of computers, that took up a whole<br />

room. IBM included the younger family for<br />

Christmas parties, and when older to London<br />

for Pantomime on Ice. I also remember<br />

going around an IBM office with lots of large<br />

computers and a ‘desktop’ type screen with<br />

questions you had to answer. It made Dad’s<br />

work seem like fun! He also travelled at times<br />

and brought back our first taste of Muesli<br />

from Switzerland!<br />


It was not long before Dad was back on the motorbike<br />

(the 1970/80’s UK fuel crisis), and soon after mum was<br />

riding bikes, and they had many years of fun together.<br />

That included researching & breaking the dating code’s<br />

of triumph machines manufactured after 1923 (lost when<br />

the Coventry factory was bombed 14th November 1940<br />

during WW2) and Dad became the Marque Specialist<br />

for Triumph Motorbikes 1923 to 1933, for the Vintage<br />

Motorcycle Club, UK. Over the years he recorded his<br />

research and documented these in multiple books. My<br />

brother Richard is now making these available to all,<br />

publishing them online through Amazon (Triumph The<br />

Facts). A copy also goes into the national archives. (As<br />

a side line, dad has also written about his eclectic life<br />

experiences (which you will find out more as you read<br />

on!) in a series of books titled ‘Chance’.<br />

Our life as a family has various memories. Mum and dad<br />

were always hospitable so we welcomed people from<br />

all parts of the world, when visiting the UK through IBM<br />

(including France, Turkey and New Zealand). We moved<br />

from Watford to 4 Cuckmans Drive Chiswell Green, St<br />

Albans in approx. 1970, and the garage filled up with<br />

motorbikes, the drive had 2 cars in it, and our bicycles<br />

(essential for paper round and getting to school) were<br />

in the back garden shed. Mum had a greenhouse and<br />

garden pond.<br />

We were also joined by a cat (Winnnie) and dog<br />

(Caesar). You will note that the garage had two railway<br />

finials on the roof above the doors. These were from the<br />

Great Western Railway (obviously no room for the full<br />

signals at the house!)<br />

Summer family holidays often included Dad’s parents for<br />

a week in Devon and visiting relatives. And a second<br />

holiday with just us 4 (& the dog!) on the canal. Dad<br />

was able to be away from work and being ‘on call’, the<br />

days before mobile phones! Richard and I soon learnt<br />

to swim so we did not have to wear the life jackets! We<br />

also regularly saw dad’s parents who lived down the<br />

road in Garston, <strong>North</strong> Watford.<br />


Mum’s parents were in Australia (Grannie and<br />

Grandad Aussie) and we spoke with them<br />

once a year on a ‘pre-booked 10 min call’,<br />

otherwise it was letters and photos in the post<br />

from our Australian grandparents and cousins.<br />

There were always photos of them on display,<br />

and their lives living on farm seemed so<br />

different than ours! It wasn’t until 1977 when<br />

we met them for the first time (apart from<br />

when I was a baby!). We all took a sudden<br />

family trip to Australia, when Grandad was not<br />

well. Dad had been saving up for us all to go,<br />

and it was mum’s first trip back to Australia.<br />

For the first time got to know the other side<br />

of the family, and their lives. This included<br />

Richard and mine first experience on our<br />

cousins off road bikes on their farm. Many<br />

fun memories, and grandad wore his Scottish<br />

Beret from his trip to England in 1961 (proud<br />

of his Scottish ancestry)! As a child you just<br />

‘go along with these things’ but it’s not until<br />

later years you realise the thought and effort<br />

that your parents put into these parts of your<br />

lives.<br />

One of these is learning to ride motorbikes<br />

in England! As a family we all soon learnt to<br />

ride, and Dad took us approx. 45 mins down<br />

the road to Watford to the RAC/ACU Training<br />

scheme. A very strict course, including hill<br />

start, road test and bike maintenance, before<br />

taking the ‘not so strict’ government legal<br />

test. The examiner just stood on the road<br />

watching us ride past! Dad then permitted us<br />

to go on the road!<br />

Life takes a turn and<br />

moves ‘Down South’<br />

Life for Mum and Dad was about to change<br />

again in 1978 when Dad’s work took him to<br />

New Zealand for 3 months. IBM New Zealand<br />

were looking for a course instructor and offered<br />

Dad the opportunity of going and taking the<br />

whole family, and then stopping off at Australia<br />

on the way home.<br />

We rented a house in Karori, the hills of<br />

Wellington, Dad went to work at IBM Nae<br />

Nae, Richard ‘got the short straw’ and went to<br />

school, Mum (I’m not sure what she did!!!), and<br />

I went to dad’s work to help out (filing, copying),<br />

then saw advertised a short typing course in<br />

Wellington, and then went onto Petone College<br />

and learnt bookkeeping and to ‘touch type’ (a<br />

skill that continues to this day, hence typing<br />

this!). New Zealand has a lot to answer for!<br />

And the travel by Trolley Bus, Cable Car and<br />

Wellington train were special experiences.<br />

Dad met some friends through this work that<br />

they still have to this day (Lindsay and Vivienne<br />

McIsaac who came to the rescue of the English<br />

lady who didn’t know how to shop in New<br />

Zealand!). Dad somehow managed to also<br />

squeeze in trips for us as family around the<br />

<strong>North</strong> Island to Rotorua, Mount Egmont, glow<br />

worm caves. And a trip to the South Island<br />

including Arthurs pass, Franz Joseph Glazier<br />

and panning for gold.<br />

They fell in love with the country and the<br />

people. After returning to England, Mum & Dad<br />

went out a New Zealand a few more times for<br />

Motorbike rallies (incl 1986 First Pan Pacific<br />

Rally) and new friends loaned them motorbikes<br />

to ride on (including Richard Caldwell).<br />

Then in 1991 Dad took early<br />

retirement (at 56years!) and on a<br />

bike trip around New Zealand, they<br />

decided to look at houses. They<br />

found a detached 2 story (“you have<br />

to go upstairs to bed” dad said) at 9<br />

Strachan Place, Rangiora, that had<br />

that a large enough garage for dad’s<br />

bikes and garden for mum, and they<br />

chose to emigrate to New Zealand!<br />


So on 13th September 1993 (noted in dad’s<br />

flying log, and saved plane tickets!) Mum, Dad,<br />

cat Smutty and dog Chum, along with around<br />

12 motorbikes, 2 cars, bike parts and their<br />

home contents, they left England and their two<br />

‘children’ for a life in New Zealand! They were<br />

made so welcome on their arrival and I’ve only<br />

recently found how much. Derek Upton met<br />

them at the airport and gave them somewhere<br />

to sleep that night. He has continued to be<br />

a friend, and almost part of the family! The<br />

shipping company, Pickfords, said they had<br />

not moved anyone with so many bikes since<br />

Barry Sheen!<br />

When they emigrated they took their whole<br />

lives and memories from England with them,<br />

documents, paperwork and memories from<br />

RAF life, Watford home and St Albans home,<br />

all to New Zealand. We discovered this when<br />

going through their home recently. Just glad<br />

dad stopped at a 5 bedroomed house!<br />

They had a further 27 years of retired life<br />

in New Zealand, and celebrated 61 years<br />

together. It is only recently that I’ve found<br />

out through their friends, that dad’s eclectic<br />

enjoyment of life continued!<br />

This included the Daimler and Lanchester<br />

Spare Parts Club. Dad was actively involved<br />

(see photo of flip chart with ideas for<br />

membership!), he had his own area for parts,<br />

which he proudly showed us when visiting,<br />

and was editor of the magazine ‘The Flut’ed<br />

Grill’ for 6 years, 2010-2016 (John Galey and<br />

Kay McCallam, thanks for your input and<br />

friendship ).<br />


Mum and Dad never really learnt<br />

how to retire, and at the age of 70yrs<br />

Dad had flying lessons at Wigram,<br />

just outside Christchurch and<br />

obtained his private pilots licence<br />

when 72years young! He also passed<br />

a course for multi engine rating<br />

flying Cougar ZK-PAP at Wigram.<br />

Mum and dad joined the <strong>Canterbury</strong> Vintage Car Club<br />

(thanks Jeff Rogers for your friendship) and dad would<br />

source information from the club library and went on<br />

many car and bike events (his diary has this recorded<br />

and planned ahead!). Gloria Micallef from Waimack<br />

Classic Cars has relayed the joy and experience of<br />

meeting them at many of these events. Dad somehow<br />

managed to fit into their lives time to continue<br />

researching triumph motorbikes, and communicating<br />

around the world by email, letters and welcoming<br />

visitors.<br />

In 2010 Dad set up the Rangiora Menz Shed (Morris<br />

Harris has relayed memories). We as children have seen<br />

many photos over the years of the club building being<br />

developed, fund raising events and items made, and<br />

had the privilege of being introduced to members when<br />

we visited. In 2019 Dad retired as Chairman, with life<br />

long membership and received an Acknowledgement of<br />

Service Certificate, presented by Mayor David Ayers.<br />

I have recently found that dad had kept a typed diary<br />

on his computer, for many years, and had typed up<br />

what they had done, and who they had met, with his<br />

own ‘special way of commenting!’ One of their early NZ<br />

friends are Richard & Audrey Caldwell, Dad mentioned<br />

them visiting most years, for motorbikes of course! (I<br />

omitted to say that steam trains and traction engines<br />

were also part of our childhood, but he never owned<br />

one, otherwise I’m sure that would have been shipped<br />

to NZ!).<br />

Mum and Dad never really learnt how to retire, and at<br />

the age of 70yrs Dad had flying lessons at Wigram, just<br />

outside Christchurch and obtained his private pilots<br />

licence when 72years young! He also passed a course<br />

for multi engine rating flying Cougar ZK-PAP at Wigram.<br />

In 2014 the Model Railways boxes were opened again,<br />

including his original 1961 Table Top Great Western<br />

Railway, in 3mm size (he had never cancelled his UK<br />

3mm Society membership!) Dad was a foundation<br />

member of the <strong>North</strong> <strong>Canterbury</strong> Model Railway club,<br />

and after a brief break (as busy with the Menz Shed<br />

Dad) returned to his layout on Wednesday nights<br />

and Saturday mornings. Dad shared by email many<br />

photos of his ideas and models, and his considerations<br />

and attention to detail continued with these small but<br />

important replicas. (Thank you Arthur Linnell and Kevin<br />

Ching for sharing with us Dad’s life and enjoyment at<br />

the club, and the club having a running track at Dad’s<br />

funeral reception!)<br />


When mum and dad emigrated to NZ, they left<br />

Richard and myself behind in the UK. Dad was<br />

never a ‘religious’ man, and attended Church<br />

for particular and special events. He always<br />

encouraged us as children to be involved with<br />

Sunday school/choir etc. Mum has a strong<br />

Christian Faith in the Lord and has testimony of<br />

being healed from Arthritis, and has continued in<br />

strong health and exercising many dogs over the<br />

years. Mum when in NZ occupied her time with<br />

many new friends and Church life, Nursing/Care<br />

home visits, and dog training. She even managed<br />

to fit in studying for Theology Degree, and her thesis<br />

was ‘Why Spiritual Care for the Elderly’ (copies<br />

available). She also supported dad with his triumph<br />

bikes and classic cars and all their activities and<br />

events.<br />

Dad never stopped mum with her Church life, he<br />

would support and when they celebrated their 50<br />

years, they had a recommittal of their marriage at<br />

Church, followed by a car rally event! As a family we<br />

also met up for a week together in Singapore, and<br />

Dad was great at organizing all our varying ideas and<br />

what we wanted to do – he got a flip chart from the<br />

hotel!<br />

Dad was a great lover of ice-cream, and I make<br />

no excuse in sharing with you one of my favourite<br />

photos from Singapore. Mum and Dad with<br />

an Icecream in the café under our hotel! Great<br />

memories!<br />

On 23rd January 2020 they celebrated another<br />

milestone of 60 years marriage! Their friends John<br />

and Kay Galey hosted a tea party for them, and<br />

a journalist from the local <strong>North</strong> <strong>Canterbury</strong> <strong>News</strong><br />

newspaper visited, with a subsequent article printed<br />

‘Years on, love still triumphs’. A title that summed up<br />

their lives perfectly!<br />


Life changes<br />

again<br />

On 13th May 2021 Dad’s life changed direction again.<br />

He sent us an email stating ‘don’t by any gifts for my<br />

birthday this year’. His birthday was 25th July. He<br />

had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a<br />

few weeks/months to live. He started to put various<br />

affairs in order. How do you do that, with a lifetime of<br />

experiences in the house. I later found out that you<br />

do what you can, and then leave the rest for the family<br />

and friends!<br />

Mum by now was also in the early stages of<br />

Dementia, still enjoying life to the max, but not always<br />

remembering it all! So dad had been increasingly<br />

supporting her in various ways, over the recent years.<br />

His concern for her was expressed in various emails to<br />

me and phone calls.<br />

Back in England Richard and I prepared to travel from<br />

England and applied for New Zealand Visas during<br />

COVID lockdown. Many years before, the Lord had<br />

made it clear to me, that ‘If I put Him first, He would<br />

take care of our family’. I truly believed that, even<br />

though it was not always easy being so far apart from<br />

them. I didn’t realise it, but this was that time.<br />

Since Mum and Dad had emigrated, the Church that<br />

myself and my husband Alan are part of (His Church),<br />

have grown in their Humanitarian Aid work and moved<br />

further north to Lincolnshire and occupied a large<br />

50,000 square foot Hangar for a warehouse and other<br />

buildings on an old RAF site. I was back again at an<br />

RAF base! We as a Church are restoring the buildings<br />

and ex-pilots & RAF personnel visit, sharing their<br />

memories. It is like life is coming back into both the<br />

buildings and the people. I was sharing this with Dad<br />

over the recent years, and it increased in our last few<br />

weeks. We had a giggle as I said “My first home was a<br />

caravan with the RAF and it looks like I will be finishing<br />

it in a caravan at an RAF site!”.<br />

The miraculous care that was given to both mum and<br />

dad in his final weeks was just awesome to watch.<br />

Cousins Jim and Jodie Bowden travelled over from<br />

Australia and cared for them both, which ended up<br />

being for 7 weeks. Anne Barnes from mum’s church<br />

was prompted to visit their home and has assisted with<br />

practical provision, and still does.<br />

The ‘nursing home bed from nowhere’ that became<br />

available for dad’s final days, The personal help from<br />

Judith at Older People’s Health, including Adriel House<br />

as a ‘unique’ new home for mum and a room available<br />

immediately. The provision for a new home for Bluey<br />

Dog, Katelyn visited & immediately fell in love with him.<br />

The team of ladies from mum’s church that sewed on<br />

all her clothing labels. Ann Jelf and Morris Harris that<br />

helped finish emptying the house. Neighbours, Les<br />

and Shirely Nelson who looked after the house when<br />

empty and thoughtfully cared for the garden……….<br />

the list goes on………….<br />


It says in the Bible John 21v25 ‘But there are also<br />

many other things which Jesus did; were every one of<br />

them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could<br />

not contain the books that would be written’, well<br />

those 5 weeks was just like that time. I can’t express<br />

how much The Lord did for His care for both Mum and<br />

Dad, and His continued care since then for Mum.<br />

The Anglican Church in Amberley have welcomed<br />

mum and Pamela Welch was there to meet her on<br />

the day she moved in! Pamela and Sally regularly<br />

walk mum to church and back on Sundays, and Mary<br />

Shaw from New Life Church ‘bumped into mum’ at<br />

an Adriel House church meeting, years after mum<br />

visited her mum in a Rangiora Nursing home! The St<br />

Johns Church in Rangiora continue to keep in touch<br />

with Mum, and she can’t speak highly enough of Tina<br />

Thorpe, a precious friend to her.<br />

Adriel House has been a perfect provision, in endless<br />

ways (thanks Mischael & Elaine!), including gardens<br />

for mum to walk around and weed, and she has her<br />

own bird bath. The staff have been so personal and<br />

become ‘telephone friends’ to us when we call from<br />

England. We may no longer have dad with us, as<br />

‘he’s had his last ride’, but have now gained so many<br />

of dad’s friends, and mum’s new friends as part of<br />

our extended family! Your kind words to Mum and<br />

obituaries to Dad have been so thoughtful.<br />

Just want to finish with thanking all those that have<br />

written & came to Dad’s funeral on 7th July 2021,<br />

at St Johns Church, Rangiora. It was a very special<br />

moment in time, including the Last Post by the RSA.<br />

Our Church back at RAF Binbrook, England also<br />

lowered the flag to Half Mast at 11am. A mark of<br />

respect. Our heavenly Father has certainly taken care<br />

of them both. Thank you.<br />

Susan Waller (nee Cornelius)<br />


The FACTS<br />

Peter Cornelius – Riding Forwards<br />

Dad’s research, covered more than 4 decades, and so Mum suggested that he<br />

put it down into book form for the future generations. This advice he took<br />

and wrote 22 books covering every model of Triumph in detail up until 1936<br />

plus a further 6 books on the history of Triumph and its founders 1863-1940.<br />

His son, Richard, is now in the process of publishing these<br />

so they are available on every continent via Amazon.<br />

Peter’s wife Janet, and his son and daughter Richard and<br />

Susan, can be contacted via: cornelius@actrix.co.nz<br />

Peter’s website is still available at it’s new home of:<br />

http://earlytriumph.com<br />

And his books are becoming available through<br />

Amazon, in most countries:<br />

Search for “Triumph The Facts by Peter Cornelius”<br />

or type https://www.amazon.com.au/<br />


Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!