Thursday, 4 June 2015

Wallace Mounted Rifle Re-union program

Here are some images of a rare program for the Wallace Mounted Rifles First Re-union at the Crown Hotel, Otautau, 13 July 1913. Photos courtesy of Ken Chilton.

Quote: "This for the waxen Heath, and that for the Wattle-bloom,
This for the Maple-leaf, and that for the southern Broom.
The Law that ye make shall be law and I do not press my will,
Because ye are Sons of The Blood and call me Mother still."
--Rudyard Kipling

Quote: "Some ha'e meat and canna' eat,
And some may eat that want it;
But we ha'e meat and we can eat,
and sae the Lord be thankit."
--Robert Burns
Some well-known names on the Toast page.

Note: We're closed for the winter but will open again in October 2015. You can request an individual visit by request if you would like to see the museum in person.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Gallipoli Landing

This first-hand account of landing at Gallipoli by Otautau soldier, Archie McDonald, makes for interesting reading. Archie had been a stock agent for Wright Stephenson & Co. and enlisted in June 1915, age 26.
Otautau "Boys" at the Front

Writing to a Cobber in this district on 19th May, from Kasr-El-Ainy Hospital, Cairo, Archie Macdonald says; -- As you will sea I am still in the hospital, but I think I am going out to-morrow. When we leave the hospital we go into a convalescent home till we are properly better, and then we have to go into camp till they get a mob ready to go back to the Dardanelles. I got hit in the hand on May 2nd. We landed at the Dardanells on April 25th. When the Australians landed at 4 o'clock in the morning the Turks were right down on the beach, and about 30 yards from the water is a terrible big hill covered with scrub, and this was full of Turks, so you see what a hard job the Australians had landing. The first few boat loads never landed at all, they were sunk before they reached the shore. But this did not frighten the rest for as soon as any of them landed they fixed bayonets and held the Turks back a bit until the rest of the Australians landed, then they fixed bayonets and charged the Turks up the hill and drove them back about three miles, but by doing so they made a big mistake as they had lost a lot of men in the charge, and when they had got the Turks back so far they found that they had not enough men to hold them there so they had to retreat about a mile or more, and they lost a lot more men in the retreat. When we landed about dinner time the Australians had a good position, and were giving the Turks all they wanted. When we landed we had to land under machine gun and big gun fire as the Turks were shelling the landing position, but we landed without any loss. About six o'olook that night we were lying down on the aid of a hill waiting for orders when the Turks started putting shrapnel over our way again. Two or three shells burst just above us and killed six and wounded 17 in the 8th Regiment, but if that gunner had kept his gun in that position for a while longer he would have settled the lot of us. Well all went well with us until the following Sunday, May 2nd, when the Otago Battalion were told they had to take a certain trench on our left flank at all costs. Well, we got the trench and costs both, for we lost a lot of men. It was dark when we started, and we had a big hill to climb for a start, and as soon as we got to the top we were under a terrible fire from the Turks' machine guns and rifles, and after we bad got about 100 yards or so it was awful to see chaps falling all round you. We had only got about 400 yards when I got hit. I had just shot one Turk when I saw another behind a bit of scrub, so I crawled up to a bit of a bank so that I could got a better shot at him. I just put up my rifle when an explosive bullet hit it and pieces of the bullet went into the palm of my hand, the rifle being smashed. All I could do was to get out of it, so I made my way to the dressing station to get my hand dressed, and I was then sent aboard the ship to come here, where we arrived on Monday, 10th May. My hand is just about right now. I got the last piece of bullet out yesterday, but there is still a few very small pieces in yet, but they will come out themselves. The nurses and visitors are very good to us here. By jove you should hear Queen Lizzie whispering with her 15-inch guns, she does make a row. We have had no news as to what the boys are doing or how they are getting on. The mounted boys left here about a week ago so they will be well into it by now, and they would have a better time landing than we had.

P.S. By the time you get this I hope to be well into the Turks again.
--Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, Volume XI, Issue 530, 13 July 1915, Page 5, PapersPast website, National Library of New Zealand

5 - Roll of Honour - Gallipoli - Edward Richard Thomas

Trooper Edward Richard Thomas
Photo: The Otago Witness, Collection of
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum
Edward Richard Thomas was born in Otautau in 1882 to Thomas & Jessie Thomas of Yellow Bluff. Thomas was a contractor in the area. Of their four sons, three went to World War I.

Edward had been a member of the Wallace Mounted Rifles for nine years and was working as a contractor when he enlisted in August 1914. 

Trooper Thomas served with the Otago Mounted Rifles, service number 9/350. After his New Zealand training, he was sent overseas in October 1914 and served in Egypt. In May 1015, he embarked for the Dardanelles. Among the melee of the fighting at Gallipoli, he was missing presumed killed action on 21 Aug 1915, aged 33.

His younger brothers, Charles and Robert, joined the war after Edward died. Both were discharged later as being unfit for war service and sent home. Robert had his left forearm amputated after a shell attack.

4 - Roll of Honour - Gallipoli - Harry Moffat

Private Harry Moffat
Photo: Moffat Family, Eastern Bush
Harry Moffat was born at Scotts Gap in 1891. He was the youngest son of Henry & Catherine Moffat of Orawia who were English immigrants. Harry's father had built the first flour mill in Otautau in 1883.

Harry was a sawmill hand at the Matai Sawmill Co. in Owhango, central North Island, when he enlisted for the war in September 1914.

With the Wellington Infantry Battalion, 10/1173 Private Moffat served in the Dardanelles. Suffering a gunshot wound to the thigh, he was sent back to Alexandria to recover. 

Private Moffat was later killed in action at Gallipoli, 7 Aug 1915, aged 24.

His older brother, Norman, served until he was no longer physically fit, being discharged in 1918.

The family were members of the Church of England.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

3 - Roll of Honour - Gallipoli - Frederick Arthur Grant-Ussher

Sergeant Frederick Arthur Grant-Ussher
Photo: The Weekly Press, 3/11/1915,
Christchurch Library
The second Otautau man to lose his life in Gallipoli was Frederick Arthur Grant-Ussher. He was born in Caversham to Jane & William Grant-Ussher in 1889. Frederick's mother was the first to be born of European settlers in Naseby. Her father was originally from Northern Ireland. 

In 1910, Jane and William put the Edendale dairy herd up for sale and came south to Otautau.

By 1912 they were dairy farming at Merrivale, and their second son, Frederick, worked on the farm.

One of the first to enlist in 1914, Frederick served with the Otago Mounted Rifles, service number 9/822. He achieved the rank of Sergeant but this was short-lived. He was killed in action at Gallipoli, 5 Jul 1915, aged 26.

“He was a very keen footballer, having founded the Menzies Ferry Club, for which he played before coming to Otautau, when he joined the Otautau club, and last season played for Orawia, of which club he was secretary. He was a very popular young fellow all round the district. Several relations of deceased are in the fighting line in France and elsewhere, and he was a distant relative of the late Lord Roberts, so that he had fighting blood in his veins.” The Otautau Standard, 10 Aug 1915

The following year, his younger brother, George, left with the 25th Reinforcements and served until the end of the war. He was discharged in 1919.

The Grant-Usshers were members of the St Andrews Anglican Church, Otautau.