Commemoration

We are now 101 years on from the first Anzac Day commemorations in 1916. These services were held on the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landings of 1915.

Anzac Day 1916, Petone
Anzac Day 1916, Petone (Photo: Archives New Zealand, AAVK W3493 E8206)

Over the decades, Anzac Day has changed. Services have become more secular, and now involve many families and community groups along with former and serving members of the armed forces. The first Anzac Day services were held in churches and halls. As memorials were built throughout the 1920s, many services – particularly dawn services – moved outdoors.

More wars have happened (and are happening), and we now remember those who served and died in the Second World War, Malaya, Korea, Vietnam, and many others, along with UN peacekeeping missions. Over the years Anzac Day has been the focus of anti-war, anti-nuclear, and anti-violence protests. It has been commemorated by Australians and New Zealanders all over the world, including Gallipoli. New migrant New Zealanders commemorate their own histories of war and sacrifice.

For more on the history of Anzac Day, NZ History has a good article.

Anzac Day can mean many things. For some, it is a time to remember a relative or friend who died. For others, it is a time to reflect on the futility of war. For others, it is a time to gather as a community and remember what people have fought and died for.

Whatever Anzac Day means to you, I encourage you to attend a service at least once. There are lots happening in and around Christchurch, Timaru, Ashburton, and Oamaru.

Ara libraries will be closed for Anzac Day on Tuesday, 25th April.

 

 

In Flanders Fields

Tomorrow marks 98 years since the end of World War One. At 11.11am, on November 11, 1918, a ceasefire was called that ended over four years of fighting.

I recently visited Ypres (Ieper), in Belgium. Part of the town walls is the Menin Gate memorial.

menenpoort_ieper
Menin Gate memorial, Ypres

Within this memorial are recorded the names of 54,395 Commonwealth soldiers whose bodies were never found. New Zealand soldiers are not listed here – at the time, the decision was made to record New Zealanders in separate monuments in cemeteries closer to where they fell.

On the town walls of Ypres is a small Commonwealth War Graves cemetery, containing 198 graves. There are 14 New Zealand graves here, of members of the Māori Battalion and the Army Engineers.

rampartsypres
Ramparts Cemetery, Lille Gate, Ypres

Ypres itself was almost completely flattened during the fighting. After the war, there were some calls to make the town a memorial. The people of Ypres, however, wanted their town back, just the way it was. It was strange to walk around and see ‘old’ buildings, and then realize that the date over the door is 1927.

ypres1919
Ypres Cloth Hall, 1919
188px-the_cloth_hall_ypres_belgium
And today.

If you’d like to know more about World War One, and in particular the Pioneer (Māori) Battalion, try some of our library resources:

Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand – First World War

Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand – Māori and overseas wars

Te mura o te ahi : the story of the Maori Battalion

 

1918 – the final push

1918 was the final year of war, but it was also among the most costly.

Bruce Hickinbotton
Bruce Hickinbotton

Bruce Hickenbottom was remembered at the Technical College for his portrayal of Father Christmas in a fundraising entertainment. He died on April 23, 1918.

Nesslea Jarman was killed in action on August 25, 1918. His older brother, Frank, had been killed at Gallipoli in 1916.

Nesslea Jarman
Nesslea Jarman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duncan Rutherford
Duncan Rutherford

Duncan Rutherford was a prominent member of the Students’ Association. With his friends Don Smith and Fred Twyford, he would perform comic musical numbers at entertainments. He was also a member of the Debating Society. Duncan was killed in action on August 22, 1918. His old friend, Don Smith, was able to attend his burial.

 

 

 

Gordon Seay, who was known as a keen and successful sportsman at College, worked as a clerk for the National Mortgage and Agency Company. On joining the army he was made a Paymaster-Sergeant, but on arriving in France he reverted to the ranks at his own request. He was killed in action on May 9, 1918.

Gordon Seay
Gordon Seay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Thomas was reported wounded and missing in October, 1918. His death was finally confirmed at a court of enquiry held in January, 1919. He left a widow, Elfrieda – they had been married for less than six months.

Frank Cummins
Frank Cummins
Charles Horwell
Charles Horwell
Cecil Kircher
Cecil Kircher
Charles Mackintosh
Charles Mackintosh
William Otley
William Otley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Cummins, Charles Horwell, Cecil Kircher, Fred Lees, William Leighton, George Lewis, Charles Mackintosh, William Miller, William Otley, Percy Saville, and Leonard Tobeck were also killed in 1918.

 

 

 

 

The First World War ended, officially, at 11.11am, on the 11th of November, 1918. New Zealand had lost more than 18,000 men and women, and thousands more had returned broken in body and mind. Every April, we remember them, and those from other conflicts.

Next time you’re passing through the Rakaia Centre, take a moment to read the honours board there.

Honours board

We will remember them.

October, 1917

October 1917 saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war, at the height of the Battle of Passchendaele. New Zealand troops were heavily involved in this battle.

Percy Clark was a prominent member of the Students’ Association, rising to be Vice President in 1913. He was a member of the debating society, but this may not have been his best skill: “Mr. P. Clark for the negative put himself at a disadvantage by reading his speech, and his remarks were occasionally beside the point.” (CTC Review, Nov. 1913). He became a manual training teacher in Invercargill, before joining the army.

He was mentioned in dispatches by Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the Allied Forces:

            “For con­spic­u­ous brav­ery and de­vo­tion to duty in the Boutil­lerie Sec­tor on 10th De­cem­ber 1916. Dur­ing a Ger­man raid he mounted his gun on the para­pet and kept his gun in ac­tion un­der heavy shell fire, the Lewis Gun for this part of the line hav­ing been put out of ac­tion, and was chiefly in­stru­men­tal in de­feat­ing the raid. This Non Com­mis­sioned Of­fi­cer pre­vi­ously did ex­cel­lent work on the Somme.” – London Gazette, 1 June 1917, p. 5430

Percy was killed in action on October 11, 1917.

William Esselborn studied plumbing in the Evening School. He was the subject of what seems to have been a lengthy military enquiry in July 1917, after he sprained his ankle in the trenches. It was eventually concluded that this was the result of an accident and not through any deliberate action on William’s part. He was killed in action on October 4, 1917

Murdock MacLeod “was one of the first, and perhaps the most able of the students we have had in the building department” (Review, 1917). He became an architect, and worked for Samuel Hurst Seager in Christchurch. Murdock died on October 13, 1917, from wounds received in action. He left a widow, Minnie.

Thomas Dixon
Thomas Dixon

Thomas Dixon was described in the Review as “one of the ablest wood-working boys we have had” – and as having the dubious honour of having been known to his classmates as ‘little Dickie’. He was killed in action on October 12, 1917.

 

 

 

Robert Allan
Robert Allan

Robert Allan studied Agriculture, travelling to the Technical College each day from Waikari in North Canterbury (probably by train). He worked on his family’s farm until he joined the army. Robert died on October 17, 1917, from wounds received the same day.

 

 

 

Harold Burnett
Harold Burnett
George Allard
George Allard

George Allard, Fred Brown, Harold Burnett, John Hanna and Ralph Restall also died during October, 1917.

1917 – the fourth year

1917 was a sombre year for families of New Zealand soldiers, and the Technical College was no exception.

George Craw
George Craw

George Craw studied in the Engineering department, before working as a cleaner for New Zealand Railways. He died on August 6, 1917, from wounds received in action. He received one of the most poignant memorials in the Review in November 1917:

 

 

            “Quiet and kindly in disposition, it is difficult for us to picture him, as in the case of so many others, taking an active part in the events in which he was called to engage.”

 

Eric Cobeldick
Eric Cobeldick

Eric Cobeldick was a popular student at the Technical College, taking part in school sports and dramatic productions. He was killed in action on July 26, 1917, less than six weeks after arriving in France.

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Ritchie
Thomas Ritchie

Thomas Ritchie, along with his sister Flossie, began at the Technical College in 1907, only its second year. He worked as a shepherd in Havelock North. He was killed in action on August 18, 1917.

 

 

 

 

 

Cecil Ardley
Cecil Ardley
Francis Goodwin
Francis Goodwin
Cecil Merrett
Cecil Merrett
Ashley Vincent
Ashley Vincent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cecil Ardley, Francis Goodwin, John Horgan, Cecil Merrett, Arthur Postgate, George Scarr and Ashley Vincent also died in 1917.

1916 – the third year

By 1916, any thoughts of “over by Christmas” were gone. The Technical College lost many Old Boys in the fighting of this year.

Leonard Barter
Leonard Barter
Edward Beattie
Edward Beattie
Hugh Bower
Hugh Bower
Leonard Derungs
Leonard Derungs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leonard Barter, Edward Beattie, and Hugh Bower were reported missing on September 15-16, 1916. Leonard Derungs joined his company in France on October 1, 1916, and was reported missing that same day.

An extensive enquiry was carried out in December, 1916, which confirmed the deaths in action of these and many other men.

Walter Dougall was a pupil in the Agricultural department, and an active sportsman – “An excellent forward, who knows the game well and plays with dash,” according to the Football notes in the1912 Technical College review. He was wounded four times, and promoted to Lieutenant, before dying on September 15, 1916, of wounds received the same day.

James McCullough was an early pupil in the cabinetmaking department, and worked as a shop fitter in Wellington. He died after being wounded in an accidental explosion on August 26, 1916.

Geoffrey Willey
Geoffrey Willey
Albert Wills
Albert Wills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leonard Scott, Geoffrey Willey, and Albert Wills also died during 1916.

1916: The Year of Stalemate

1916: The year of Stalemate

By many measures, 1916 was the worst year of the First World War. More soldiers were killed during 1916 than any other year of the war. Although the year would start with some small hope, by the end stalemate on land had truly set in. Gone was the belief that the war would be “over by Christmas”, and a new understanding of the price to be paid would start to emerge.

The Battle Of The Somme - Attack Of The Ulster Division - By J. P. Beadle (Cranston Fine Arts)
The Battle Of The Somme – Attack Of The Ulster Division – By J. P. Beadle (Cranston Fine Arts)

Focus on Europe

Of note during the year were the final withdrawal from Gallipoli, the Battles of the Somme, Verdun and massive conflagrations on the Eastern Front.  The battle for control of the Atlantic had started to heat up, with major sea battles at Jutland and Dogger Banks and the scourge of the U Boat developing.

On land, the focus of battle had shift from peripheral regions to the trenches of the Western Front. For good or for bad the war would be decided at sea and in Northern France and Belgium.

British 39th Siege Battery RGA Somme 1916, IWM
British 39th Siege Battery RGA Somme 1916, IWM

 

New Zealand’s role

New Zealand forces had finally shift our prime focus to Europe, before the end of the year the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) would be fully committed to the titanic battles taking place there.

Thankfully, we were not involved in the early stages of the disastrous Battle of the Somme ( 60 000 casualties on day one, 20 000 dead within 24 hours).

NZ troops unloading at a French port 1916, IWM
NZ troops unloading at a French port 1916, IWM

 

 

However, our forces would play a significant part in the later stages of the battle and start to build the enviable reputation for toughness and resourcefulness that characterised them later in the war.