Raymond James Cranch rugby league footballer who represented New Zealand. He also served in WWII, training in Maardi in Egypt and fighting in Monte Cassino in Italy. He received a Year of the Veteran Certificate of Appreciation for his Service given to New Zealand during World War II by the Rt Honourable Helen Clark, Prime Minister.(7 January 1923 – 13 October 2021) was a New Zealand
Raymond James Cranch
7 January 1923
|Died||13 October 2021 (aged 98)|
Auckland, New Zealand
Rugby league career
When war was declared in 1939, Cranch was an apprentice with Charles Day and Sons in Khyber Pass in Auckland. Cranch and his friend Russell Gribbel jumped on their bikes and cycled over to Pompalier Street to sign up for the territorials. Cranch gave a false age as he was 16, whereas the age limit was 18. He was posted to the 1st field regiment in NZ artillery. The camp was at the Avondale racecourse. They then travelled to Rotorua where they had another camp in Arawa park at the racecourse, then they did a trek down to Waiouru. He attended Narrow Neck Infantry School for gas and weapons training - e.g. pistol and 303 Lee Enfield. A year later he was asked to be a lance bombadier and go to the training camp in Rotorua. He finished with his apprenticeship (12 shillings a week) and went full time with the army ( 7 shillings a day). The lance bombardier role meant he was second in command of a gun crew of six. He was the gunner that serviced the guns and shells.
Cranch came back into the army just before Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He was in a camp at Hopuhopu near Ngaruawahia and in the morning had to dig trenches in the gum trees in case they were attacked by the Japanese. The regiment went to the Bombay area in Auckland where they carried out exercises for another year. He was picked for OCTU (Officer Cadet Training Unit) and was promoted to a gun sergeant whereby commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant.
Cranch was also captain of the award-winning Auckland Softball team, which won the Beatty Cup and the Coca-Cola trophy as the team retained the national championship at Te Kuiti in 1950. He was heavily involved with the Piha Surf Life Saving Club, where he gained an Instructor's Certificate from the New Zealand Surf Lifesaving Association on the 15th of February 1964.
Cranch was a life member of both the Auckland Rugby League and New Zealand Rugby League. In the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours, Cranch was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to sport, especially rugby league.
In 2020, the second-tier Auckland rugby league competition was named the Ray Cranch Cup.
On 27 March 2021, Cranch was named as patron of the Auckland Rugby League during the sporting body's 111th annual general meeting. Aged 98, he was at the meeting in Mount Wellington and thanked those in attendance for the honour at the conclusion of the meeting.
- "His 21st in Italy and chasing Churchill, oldest living Kiwis player and WWII veteran reflects on an incredible life". 1 News. 25 April 2020. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
- "Raymond James Cranch". Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- History mtalbertlions.co.nz
- Coffey, John and Bernie Wood Auckland, 100 years of rugby league, 1909-2009, 2009. ISBN 978-1-86969-366-4.
- "Anzac Day in the West | Piha | Piha Beach | Piha New Zealand". 25 April 2013.
- "Roberts gave lifetime's service to league". stuff.co.nz. 18 March 2005. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- life members nzrl.co.nz
- "Auckland Rugby League to open Hall of Fame". 4 February 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "Queen's Birthday honours list 2006". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 5 June 2006. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
- "New rugby league honour for oldest Kiwi Ray Cranch, 97". Stuff.co.nz. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
- "Volunteers honoured, Cranch made patron at ARL AGM". Auckland.Scoop. 27 March 2021. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
- "In memory of the beloved Ray Cranch MNZM Kiwi #341". New Zealand Rugby League. 14 October 2021. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
- "Raymond Cranch death notice". New Zealand Herald. 15 October 2021. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
- "Ray Cranch: the oldest surviving Kiwi". New Zealand Rugby League. 6 August 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2020.