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Rev. Herbert Roy Puddle

1936-1937 NZBTI Diploma (Queen Street Campus)

Roy was converted through the ministry of Lionel Fletcher at age 20 and played an active part in Open Air witnessing and Christian Endeavour work. After studying at the NZ Bible Training Institute, he served on the Kemp Memorial Caravan as a “caravangelist” for a year.


In June 1940 he married Elaine Anderson and the couple were expecting their first child when Roy was called up to serve in the Armed Forces in World War II. He joined the 6th Field Ambulance, NZ Medical Corps attached to the Second NZ Expeditionary Force. Sadly, their baby died in June 1941 while Roy was overseas.


A brief note in The Reaper in October 1941 mentions that Roy had been through Greece and Crete and had a miraculous escape “after capture by the enemy”. On 1 December 1941, he was captured in North Africa and spent a month in a prison camp at Benghazi, Libya before being transported to a Prisoner of War camp in Italy. [1]


In his first postcard home, Roy wrote:


The way has not been easy, but spiritually I have had a grand time. The Lord has been marvellously gracious, and prayer and His Word have taken on a new meaning. Had two glorious opportunities of preaching the Gospel at informal services to scores and scores of men – souls blessed and a few declarations. Held one service on Christmas Day. “All things work together for good…” Am in the place of His appointment. [2]


In his POW camp, Roy set up a Christian Endeavour group and led regular Bible studies and prayer meetings. Holy Week 1942 in particular saw a real move of God’s Spirit in the camp. In his letter home he noted, “Easter week was a time of wonderful spiritual blessing when many who were definitely not Christians attended the Study Circles”. Roy spoke at a Good Friday service where “many were touched by the Saviour”, and at a Christian Endeavour meeting on Easter Monday, “we called for testimonies and one after another rose to testify of blessing during Holy Week”. He concluded his letter by writing, “One feels thankful for being here and being able to help in some small way”. [3] At his funeral years later, testimony was given about his influence in the prisoner of war camps. [4]


Roy was repatriated back to New Zealand as medically unfit in September 1943. In 1944 he entered the Baptist Theological College in Auckland and served as a student pastor at Epsom Baptist while studying (1944-1946). Following graduation he served in New Lynn, Te Awamutu, Sunshine, and North Invercargill. In 1967 he commenced ministry with the Kaiapoi Baptist Church, his final pastorate, and was privileged to witness another move of God’s Spirit in that fellowship. Open Air Campaigners conducted a week’s mission in Kaiapoi in 1970. That week saw around 25 young people converted, and attendances at Bible studies, prayer meetings and church services increased over following months. Church attendance in this small community grew from 40 to an average of over 90 by the end of 1970, and a new spiritual fervour was experienced in prayer meetings. [5]


Roy had a heart attack on Easter Sunday and spent 12 days in hospital before his death at age 59 on 22 April 1971. He was survived by his wife Eileen and six children. Eileen also died on 22 April, but over 40 years later in 2018, in her 99th year.


[1] Of the 105 graduates and staff who served with the Armed Forces in World War II, six were taken Prisoner of War, and one was killed during an Air operation over Germany in 1944 - Alex Simpson (1941 grad). A number of graduates serving as missionaries were also interned during the War.

[2] “Graduates’ News”, The Reaper, Vol 20/6, 1 August 1942, p. 132

[3] “Graduates’ News”, The Reaper Vol. 20/8, 1 October 1942, p. 171

[4] Obituary in NZ Baptist, June 1971, p. 7

[5] Ps Murray Robertson, “What’s Happening at Kaiapoi?”, NZ Baptist, March 1971, p. 22


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