Corporal Apiata VC presents brass artwork to descendants of Cyril Bassett VC

By Taroi Black

Tonight, Corporal Willie Apiata VC will present a brass quatrefoil to the descendant of Cyril Bassett VC, the only New Zealander awarded a Victoria Cross at Gallipoli 100 years ago.

Earlier on, Corporal Willie Apiata interacted with school kids, who arrived to get the opportunity to know more about WWI and why they're honouring Cyril Bassett VC.

Young Ōpōtiki College speaker Caitlin Papuni also appeared this afternoon. She was the youth speaker who travelled to Gallipoli commemorations this year.

The artwork has adorned St David's Church in Auckland for the past three months, which served as a reminder of the 100 years of the Gallipoli campaign.

Grandson Mark Bramwell didn't think this day will come.  He says, “Never, never, I mean not in my lifetime. But I knew things will crop up now and then.  This is a great honour, to be honest I'm overwhelmed by the whole thing.” 

His grandfather was Cyril Royston Guyton Bassett VC.  He was honoured for his bravery during the Allied assault on Chunuk Bair in Gallipoli.

Bramwell says, “He did get shot a few times and wounded here and there, but generally with his size, because he was only 5'3, basically the bullets flew right across the top of his head. I think that's what kept him alive.

I think it was all down to military training.  He was probably riding on his horse and then started on a camel.” 

A hero post-war in Auckland, he married Ruth Bassett where St David's now stands in 1926 and his medal is kept in the Auckland Museum.

Bramwell says, “He was awarded that cross for himself and the rest of New Zealand and also for the troops that passed away.  Basically all his mates came back home with wooden crosses.”

He died in 1981 at the age of 91.