Love & War

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34 Modern lovers can be petulant and bratty. Trevor and Jessica Dill, thankfully, are thoroughly unmodern. At 95 and 90, this love has been tempered with the birth of each grandchild and the loss of every sibling and friend. War hangs there, too, an odd spark for good in their lives, but like most that fought and lived, talking about it is the thing Trevor least wants to do.

It was a farm boy’s punt for adventure that found Trevor navigating bombing sorties over Germany in 1942. He shared the plane and weight of those missions with four others as the Allies bore brutal blows, sometimes losing 40 planes in one night. “It was just awful, absolutely stupid, just smashing things up,” Trevor says quietly.

In the thick of it, Trevor met a breath of sweet English air. “She was just beautiful,” he says of Jessica, a Leicestershire lass also raised with tall grass and dirt, cows to milk and room to roam. Neither could conceive of bombs and blitzkrieg but were nevertheless immersed, with grit and to the war’s end. VE Day came and Trevor was back at Kaipara Flats. Jessica, with the good will of any sturdy country girl, soon followed.

She giggles now recalling an eight-month family trek circa 1966 circumnavigating the globe with five kids in tow. Trevor, a prolific diarist, fetches a notebook from the trip, one of hundreds he filled over time. In writing fluid and artful, he talks in “miles,” “pounds” and “pence” over pages-as-odes to Perth, California, and Venice. Berlin was a stop, a place to put to rest old ghosts.

They’ll mark ANZAC Day with a dawn service and RSA dinner. They also celebrate 70 years married this year. An unfolding legacy of South African and Dutch sons-in-law and Hong Kong-born grandchildren, they’ve patently raised their brood with a global perspective.

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Excursions are few and carefully planned now, but they help with doings at Kaipara Tennis Club where they played. Trevor grouses that Jessica had a nasty habit of trouncing him in match play – but he always preferred badminton anyway.