This is the first of a series of posts on Otautau's WWI Roll of Honour. The men on the war memorial will be highlighted as well as the men who, for one reason or another, did not get their name on the memorial.
There were many perils the men faced - not only the prospect of being killed in action but also catching a disease in the midst of the war and not being able to recover from it. We will be listing these men starting with who died first.
8/492 Private Tangney
The first person from Otautau to lose his life in WWI was Eugene Tangney. He was born in Invercargill in 1889, the eldest son of Patrick & Isabella Tangney. His father was a railway surfaceman in Otautau. Eugene went to Otautau School and later became a timber tallyman for nine years for the Southland Sawmilling Co. in Pukewao.
We have no picture of him but his military file described him as 5 ft 7 1/2 inches (about 170 cm), with grey eyes and light brown hair. He was of Roman Catholic faith.
Private Tangney enlisted on 15 Aug 1914 soon after the war began. He was a member of the 8th Company (Southland) for the Otago Infantry Regiment. After his training, he would’ve been preparing for the treacherous landing at Gallipoli with his regiment but he contracted pneumonia a week beforehand and died in Lemnos, Greece, 24 Apr 1915, aged 26 years.
His death was reported throughout New Zealand newspapers as he was also a noted athlete.
“Private Tangney’s career as an athlete was a short but brilliant one. He was a natural long distance runner, and like many others was discovered by accident.”
—The Press, 6 May 1915
Private Tangney had a short life but his death in the Great War was honoured by inclusion on Otautau's war memorial which was unveiled in 1922. This memorial helps us reflect on life, death, war, and our role as citizens.
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