Commanding Officer PEGASUS: 1972 -1977
Commander M.S.W. (Mark) Ballantyne, VRD, RNZNVR
Commander Mark Stafford William Ballantyne was born in March 1931 at Croydon, Surrey, England while his father was furthering his retail experience for the well known Canterbury retail firm of J Ballantyne and Co. Ltd. The family returned to New Zealand and settled in Timaru where his father managed the Timaru Branch of the firm. Commander Ballantyne was educated at Waimitaitai Primary School Timaru, and Christ’s College, Christchurch (1945 – 49). The insistence by his Primary School Headmaster that all children should learn to swim at an early age influenced his sporting direction. Whilst attending Christ’s College, Commander Ballantyne was the senior swimming champion, captain of the College swimming team in 1949, and became the New Zealand National 100 yard Open Freestyle Sprint Champion.
With the advent of compulsory military training introduced by the New Zealand Government in 1951, Commander Ballantyne opted for naval service and was called up in 1952, and was posted to HMNZS TAMAKI (on Motuihe Island in the Hauraki Gulf) as an Ordinary Seaman, and part of the third intake for the winter term of that year. On completion of his basic training, the then Ordinary Seaman Ballantyne joined HMNZS PEGASUS in 1953, and became part of the Honour Guard for the commissioning ceremony of HMNZS PEGASUS in July of that year. Later in 1953, he was rated Able Seaman with a Branch qualification in Torpedo Anti-Submarine (TAS), and a year later he qualified for, and was rated, Leading Seaman.
While undergoing sea training in 1954, in the Bird Class Minesweeper, HMNZS KIWI (P102), he had the experience of a fire at sea when the vessel caught fire off the Canterbury Coast. The fire was successfully extinguished by the Damage Control Party, with only slight damage, the wardroom and after officer’s cabin being guttered.
He was commissioned as a Temporary Sub Lieutenant in 1956, with seniority dating back to 18 July 1955, and subsequently promoted to Lieutenant three years later (18 July 1958). In 1966, he qualified for command of the attached 72ft Seaward Defence Motor Launch (SDML), and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander with effect 18 July 1966. Whilst serving as a Lieutenant Commander, he was appointed Honorary Aide-de-Camp to the then Governor-General, Sir Arthur Porritt, GCMG GCVO CBE KStJ (later Baron Porritt).
With the retirement of the then Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander G Eggleton, at ‘age for rank’ (45yrs), Commander Ballantyne found himself thrust into the position of PEGASUS’ Executive Officer on 30 June 1968.
During these years, he frequently crewed, or commanded, the Divisions attached SDML, and cruised the Bay of Islands, Northern and Southern Sounds, and the East Coast to take part in the annual exercises (Reserve-ex), in addition to the many local training cruises.
He was awarded the Volunteer Reserve Decoration (VRD) in 1971, and later that year (15 December 1971) was promoted to Commander, and appointed PEGASUS’ 8th Commanding Officer, the position he held until his retirement on 31 December 1977.
On leaving college, Mark became a cadet craftsman with the architectural firm of G. T. Lucas, where he remained until he joined the family firm of J. Ballantyne and Co. Ltd., becoming that company’s Retail Manager in 1977. In 1981, he resigned and took up a position as Manager of Minsons Ltd., an old Christchurch retail firm specialising in ceramics. Retiring from Minsons, he, and his wife Sharon, set up as horticulturists at their home in Governors Bay at the end of Lyttelton Harbour. During 1989 and 1992, he served as an elected member of the Lyttelton/Mount Herbert Community Board.
For his service, he was awarded the Volunteer Reserve Decoration.