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Past parade . . . The Anzac parade in 2010 enters the RSA with the howitzer gun at left. PHOTO: COURIER FILES

by Chris Tobin

The group of South Canterbury RSA members who wanted the RSA building and land in Wai-iti Rd retained under RSA ownership accept it will have to be sold.

However, they have come up with another proposal in the hope RSA links to the site are not lost.

“We want to keep the small area of land where the gun has been as the permanent memorial and to have the gun kept there,” spokesman for the group Noel Dellow said.

A 1941 QF 25-pounder howitzer has been kept at the site since 1967 and was restored last year.

“We also want the stone that is there now, with Lest We Forget, to go with the gun.”

SCRSA president Lee Johns said the executive was meeting this week to decide whether or not to go out to tender for the building and land, which appeared likely.

They were also in discussions with the Timaru District Council regarding the future display of the howitzer.

“There’s no reason why the gun can’t stay but we won’t know until the property is sold; the person who buys it might want the gun to stay there,” she said.

However, the RSA executive had voted to sell the property and would not be retaining ownership of a patch of land as Mr Dellow’s group desired.

She expected the tender process would take six to eight weeks, during which time members would use temporary premises.

The RSA will stop trading on May 18 and Mrs Johns said most staff had found new jobs. The chattels will be sold separately.

Mr Dellow said his group would make a submission to the RSA executive this week on retaining the portion of land for the gun emplacement.

“We’re not interested in the building, only in the corner of land where we can have a set area for a gun site.”