Research project honours those who served

1 May 2024

St Andrew's College Old Collegian Daryll Fell sitting at his computer with his research project.

REGULUS // ISSUE 1 // MAY 2024

A story in a 2017 edition of Regulus about Old Collegians who had served in the military, set Daryll Fell (OC 1991) off on a significant research project which, when compete, will have a major impact on the recording of St Andrew’s service history.

The College Roll of Honour was printed alongside the Regulus story, and Daryll (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu), who is a military man himself, having served with the both the New Zealand and Australian Defence Forces, immediately recognised one of the names on the list. During the three years he spent at St Andrew’s as a boarder in Rutherford House from 1986–1988 , Daryll slept opposite John McNutt, later Acting Major John McNutt, a member of the NZ SAS, who lost his life on active service in Kuwait in 2001. “John and I connected in Australia when he was in training, and I ran into him again at Whenuapai just before he was deployed to Kuwait. He was a great soldier.”

Keen to do something in honour of John’s memory, Daryll contacted St Andrew’s Museum Archivist and Curator, Pip Dinsenbacher, to ask whether she had much information on the Old Collegians who had served in various conflicts. “When she said the museum had little information about World War II service details, I got to work. I have a passion for military history and thought if the College didn’t have a definitive collection of what the boys went through, I’d like to make sure they are remembered,” he says.

Daryll started by researching the names on the Roll of Honour. “During that process other names started coming up of Old Collegians who weren’t on the roll. I just kept going, and seven years on I’d say I am around three-quarters of the way through the project.”

Daryll visited St Andrew’s in February, when he searched the College archives for more information and gave three presentations about his research. This included an impressive spreadsheet, which had 626 entries of the students, teachers, and St Andrew’s staff he has investigated so far. The detailed information includes each individual’s age, where they served, where they died (if applicable), and their place of burial (if known). He also shared biographies he has written about some of the more notable Old Collegians who served.

Darryl now has a total of 708 names to investigate.

Some of the interesting facts Daryll has uncovered include two Old Collegians who went on to become Chief of Defence Forces, the highest military position in New Zealand, with others becoming the Chief of Navy and Chief of Army. Two teachers (and both later Rectors of St Andrew’s) Joseph Mawson and Les Stewart, served during World War I, and 561 students and teachers served during World War II. Old Collegians have fought in 17 other conflicts, with the most significant numbers in modern times serving in Borneo, Korea, Malaya, and Vietnam.

Daryll has served nearly 30 years, mostly in the Australian Defence Force, serving on numerous operational deployments. He recently returned from a posting to Washington DC, accompanying his service member wife, Ellen, but is now based back in Australia. Museum Archivist, Pip Dinsenbacher, is amazed at the depth and quality of Daryll’s research. “I was humbled and astounded by all his work and his genuine desire to give back to his mates and the College he loved so much as a young fellow. His work will be a great tāonga in our archives, a gift and treasure we could never have found any other way,” says Pip.

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