Kevin Craig 'Brindle' BridenA TRIBUTE TO BOMBARDIER 'Brindle' KEVIN CRAIG BRIDEN RNZA.
From memory, Kevin marched into 161 Battery not long after the Rhodesia Gunners returned to New Zealand. He was an OP/CP (Command Post Operator) and so marched into CP Troop, 161 Battery. Bombardier Stuart Ashworth, by now a steely eyed veteran from the Rhodesian war, looked Kevin up and down and said "Young chap, what's your name?" To which Kevin replied "Gunner Briden, Bombardier". Stu Ashworth then interjected and said "Briden? MMMmmm, when I was in the Rhodesian war, I had a Brit mate from the King's Regiment, and we called him "Brindle". I miss him now, and since your name is closest, we are going to call you 'Brindle' in his honour. His name was Lance Corporal Bob White, and he was a Northern Ireland veteran, a Cyprus veteran, and a Rhodesia veteran...these are big boots to fill Gunner; can you fill them?" Kevin replied "I'll try Bombardier", and so from that day onwards the Gunners of 161 Battery always good naturedly called Gunner Briden "Brindle".
Kevin, was a very quiet, good natured kind of guy who generally kept to himself. He was well liked within the Battery and was respected by everyone. He especially got on well with Sergeant 'Subs' Subritzky and Sergeant 'Bo' Ngata, and was often found on their guns having a quiet brew, and staying away from any heat in the Battery Command Post.
He had several amazing gifts and one of these was as a model maker, a skill he had enjoyed all of his life, whilst another of his interests was as a 'shutter bug'. I cannot remember what type of camera Kevin used but he took some of the very best and most historic photographs of 161 Battery and 16th Field Regiment during the 1980's and the 1990's. In about 1985, the BSM of the time, Sergeant Major 'Pete the Pom' Glassborow, organised a 161 Battery Reunion, the very first since the Korean War, and Kevin was detailed to take the pics over that weekend.
He somehow or other, managed to take at least one pic of everyone who attended the reunion and his collection of photographs included Gunners who had served the Battery and the Regiment, in the Korean War, Borneo, Malaya, Operation 'Powderhorn', Vietnam War, 28th ANZUK Field Regiment, Operation Agila (Rhodesian War), and more recently Exercise 'Long Look' (Kiwis to Britain during the Cold War). Kevin had a real eye for detail and made sure that he had everyone who had contributed to the history of the Regiment captured on his film. He then placed all of the pics into a photograph album and presented the album to the Battery.
This is how we older Gunners remember Kevin. He was one of us, and we treasured him as a friend and brother; his untimely death touched us all.
"Kevin, apiti hono, tatai hono...
(Kevin, the dead join the dead,
Rest in Peace Brother.
The following Obituary was written for the Kiwi Gunner Magazine "Black Diamond" in October 1999.
Kev was a quiet guy who often kept to himself, and that's the way he liked it. He had the choice of going far but often preferred to stay in a position that suited him. He lived his life to the fullest, achieving all that he wanted to achieve, when he wanted to do it. Kev was very intelligent and not in a nerdish way. We all knew that if he started an answer to a question with 'well basically', we were likely to be there for some time (or he was plucking the answer).
Kev participated in all sorts of activities; soccer (where his dedication to the team often saw him playing on an injury), managing the army women's soccer team for a number of years, as well as managing the Regimental rugby team, including a trip to Australia. A reknowned model maker since his childhood, we remember (with a smile) when the Air Defence Troop received some forty model aircraft kitsets. We remember just how disappointed Kev was when he was told that he couldn't build all forty models and would have to share them with the boys. Perhaps many of us will best remember Kev sitting in a command post late at night reading a book, an avid reader he could read anywhere at anytime, often doing some extra shift time to finish a chapter.
Kev was one of the world's nice guys, always happy with never a harsh word to say about anyone. It was never in his nature to rock the boat. People had the power to give him a hard time but he had the strength to put up with it. He didn't have long to go until his retirement, having completed 17 years service and been awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
Kev had plans for after the army, but a recent fatal training accident on feature Lion put paid to that, and we all regret that he never got a chance to finish those plans. But I hope and pray that God has another good job for Kevin, in that Regiment in the Sky.
He was a Gunner, a Gentleman, and he was our Brother.
See a series of historic photographs taken by Bombardier Kevin Briden showing Bravo Gun, 161 Battery, during the very first Live Shell practice with their newly equipped 105 mm British 'Light' Guns.