Tuesday, 21 August 2018

65201 Trooper Patrick Butler 22/7/1888-23/8/1918.


The Police Force of Now Zealand have lost a good comrade in the death of Trooper Patrick Butler, who was killed in action in France on August 25. Trooper Butler was stationed at Dunedin for many years, and he made many friends here by his quiet and manly ways, He was born at Medbury (North Canterbury). He joined the Police Force on September 1, 1909, being then only 20 years of age, and was stationed in this City up to the time he resigned, in company with Constable P. Mullens, on August 31, 1917, to enlist with the New Zealand Forces. He married the daughter of a resident of Broad Bay, but his wife died some years ago, there being no issue from the marriage. He was watch-housekeeper at the Dunedin City Police Station for some years, and was gaoler when he resigned. His comrades speak of him as a man of a very quiet and unassuming nature, and highly respected both in his official and private life. Three other constables from the Dunedin City police have given their lives in the fight for freedom — namely, Constables T. Caven, G. Eckford, and J. Johnston — all of whom were killed in action on the western front. -Evening Star, 3/9/1918.

Patrick Butler left for the war on New Year's Eve, 1917.  He was hospitalised with influenza in March of 1918 and returned to his unit, the Otago Mounted Rifles, after three weeks' care.  He is recorded as suffering a gun shot wound in the right arm and a fractured left leg on the day of his death.


DEATHS. BUTLER.—On August 23. 1918, died from wounds in France Trooper Patrick Butler (65201, 33rd Reinforcements, late Dunedin Police Force), beloved son of James Butler, Medbury, and son-in-law of J. Wilkie, Broad Bay. 
A soldier and a man.   -Otago Daily Times, 4/9/1918.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  Allan Steel photo.

Commonwealth War Graves Project.

There was a large muster of police officers at the Central Police Station yesterday afternoon, the occasion being the unveiling of a handsome tablet, which has been placed in the vestibule of the station to perpetuate the memory of those members of the force who answered the call for service in the great war. 
Addressing those assembled, which included the wives of many of the police officers, Superintendent McGrath said they had met for the purpose of unveiling a memorial tablet erected by the Otago Police Force in honour of their gallant comrades who fought for freedom in the great war. It was fitting that they should honour them, and not allow their names to be soon forgotten. No monument was necessary in order to keep their memory green in the minds of those now living. In future years the tablet he was about to unveil would serve to remind those who came after that in the day of danger the Police Force did its duty, and the names on that roll would long be remembered with pride. There were 47 names, and of that number three had' made the supreme sacrifice in defence of civilisation. For men who died thus there should be "no sadness of farewell," because for them death was surely an entrance to a higher, grander, and happier life. They could all understand the sorrow of the parents and relatives of the young men who fell in battle, and they sincerely sympathised with them; but even their grief would be made lighter by the memory that their dear ones died nobly in a great cause. It was a glorious death to die for liberty, and the man who was not willing to risk his life for the liberty of his country was not only a coward, but a slave in his heart. Thank God, they had no such men in the Police Force. He was proud to be able to say that every fit man in the service would have gone to the front as willingly as the men they were honouring that day, but, as everyone knew, the Government would not let them go. Early in the war the Minister in charge of the department stated that the police could not be spared from the dominion, where they were always at war fighting the enemies of society in order that law-abiding citizens might live in peace. He would like to say that the casualties among the police were by no means as few as many people thought. The police were accustomed to danger and discipline, so that when the war broke out they were ready and willing to take the field as soldiers, and thousands of policemen from all over the Empire served in the British army during the war. It should also be remembered that the men who were kept back did valuable work in connection with military matters. He congratulated the men on being the first division to raise a monument to the members of the force who were killed in the war, and he trusted that their good example would be followed by other districts. He regretted very much that the Commissioner of Police (Mr O'Donovan) was not with them that day. He knew that it would have given Mr O'Donovan much pleasure to come down to unveil the memorial, but, finding it impossible to come, he had requested the speaker to represent him at the function. Superintendent McGrath then unveiled the tablet.
Senior Sergeant Murray said that the opinion generally entertained among the police was that those who answered the call should not be deprived of their superannuation, and that those who rejoined should be reinstated in their former status. It would be a gracious act on the part of the Government if it paid the superannuation dues during the men's absence. The speaker said that of the three men who had made the sacrifice — Constables Butler, Eckford, and Cavan — he was only personally acquainted with Constable Patrick Butler. He thought he was much too modest a man to undertake police duties when he first joined, but on the battlefield he proved himself a soldier and a man. Sergeant Thomson said he was personally acquainted with all three of the fallen men. He proceeded to eulogise them; and concluded by expressing the hope that peace would rest with their ashes and eternal bliss with their brave spirits. Constable McCulloch said he had been requested by the members of the force to ask Superintendent McGrath to take charge of the tablet on behalf of the subscribers. Superintendent McGrath said he would have much pleasure in complying with Constable M'Culloch's request. With regard to the question of superannuation mentioned by Senior Sergeant Murray, the Government had the matter in hand, and he had no doubt that it would be satisfactorily adjusted.
Dunedin Central Police Station.

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