Saturday, 6 June 2020

NZ412916 Sergeant James Henry Johnstone 1921-24/7/1943

Portrait, Weekly News, - This image may be subject to copyright

James Johnstone was trained in Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, learning bombing, wireless operation and air gunnery in Manitoba.

It was a long way from there to serving as gunner on an RNZAF Lockheed Hudson in the Pacific Theatre. 

On July 24, 1943, he took off with his crew on a routine patrol from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, covering the area between the islands of New Georgia and Bouganville. The Hudson was attacked by eight Japanese Zero fighters which were also on patrol in the area.

The Zeros set fire to both engines of the Hudson. Although the fire was extinguished, the pilot had to ditch the plane at sea and the Japanese fighters fired at the survivors in the water.  I should add the detail that the shooting of surviving crew in the water, on land or under parachutes - if they were likely otherwise to return to combat - was perfectly legitimate according to the rules of war but frowned upon by many pilots.  

Johnstone died in the water with all but one of the crew.  The tail gunner, Trevor Ganley, survived and swam to a nearby island where he found an abandoned US life raft with some chocolate aboard.  He survived on that and some coconuts on the island, eventually repairing the raft and paddling to another (Japanese occupied) island.  He was helped by the native population there, who would be well aware of the risk to themselves and their families if caught.

James' crew was posted as "missing" on September 6, 1943, and most of them "missing, believed killed" on October 18, presumably after Trevor Ganley was able to tell his story.

James Johnstone, one of 14 children of Robert and Lily, married Elsie Denny shortly before leaving New Zealand.  His remains have not been found.

Invercargill Cemetery.

Friday, 5 June 2020

Rose Alma Shields (1928) and Ettie Irene Shields (1929) -25/2/1948

HAMILTON — SHIELDS — Mr and Mrs R. Shields, Tay street, Invercargill, have pleasure in announcing the engagement of their second daughter, Rose Alma, to Dempster Carr, eldest son of Mr and Mrs J. D. Hamilton, Humber street, Oamaru.    -Otago Daily Times, 22/4/1947.

At Least Five Dead, 20 Badly Injured
BLENHEIM, Wed. (P.A.). —The south-bound main trunk express was derailed between Seddon and Blind River, about 20 miles south of Blenheim, today. It is known that five are dead and at least 20 badly injured. It is feared that the casualties will be much higher. The train was derailed at a curve in a cutting, the locomotive being badly damaged and the driver and fireman seriously injured.
The first five cars of the train remained on the lines but the right side of the third carriage was torn out and the remaining four cars telescoped. Nearby settlers worked feverishly to extricate the dead and injured from the train.
Doctors were on the scene about midday, together with railway gangers, and a start was made in evacuating the injured by cars, trucks and ambulances to hospital.
Doctors and nurses were rushed from Blenheim, and ambulances called from Blenheim, Picton, Kaikoura and the Air Force.
There were 110 passengers on the train, which comprised an engine, seven passenger cars, a guard’s van and an extra waggon for luggage and mails.
The train left Blenheim at 10.40 a.m today.  -Northern Advocate, 25/2/1948.

Photo courtesy of The Marlborough Express/Stuff website.

Home After Wedding
BLENHEIM, Fri. (P.A.). —The two sisters, Misses Rose (22) and Ettie Irene Shields (24), of Tay Street, Invercargill, whose bodies have been identified as victims in the Seddon train disaster, travelled from Invercargill to Blenheim to attend the wedding ot their cousin, Mr R. Sim, last Saturday. 
On Monday they came to Nelson to see relatives, returning to Blenheim by service-car on Wednesday morning to catch the express for the south. 
They were daughters of Mr and Mrs R. Shields, of Invercargill.
The boy who was killed has been definitely identified as Stephen Henry James Warmin, aged 4, of 31 Torlesse Street, Avonside, Christchurch. The boy's parents both suffered injuries. “Words cannot express the appreciation of the Prime Minister (Mr Fraser) and the Government of the services given by everybody at the accident,” said the acting-Minister of Railways (Mr Haekett) yesterday. “This applies especially to settlers who provided food, blankets, sheets and bandages even before any request was made.”
The remainder are making satisfactory progress and there is now nobody on the danger list. It is expected that in the next few days the discharges will become progressively larger, leaving only those with fractures, burns and severe lacerations requiring treatment. 
Those discharged are: Miss Frances Black, Christchurch; James Brooks, aged six, Blenheim: Mr Rangi Wehipeihana, Ohau; Mr Conrad Blythe, Alexandra; Jon Findlay Aitken, Kurow; Mrs Elizabeth Evans, Renwick. 
One of the most seriously injured victims at present is the driver of the engine, Mr Joseph William Gurr. aged 29, of Christchurch, who is suffering from extensive burns. 
INQUIRY SOON Today's south-bound express pulled out from Blenheim on schedule, to be the first passenger train to pass over the scene of the smash. The train carried a full complement of passengers. Among them were several who were injured on Wednesday and who were discharged from hospital this morning.
Mr Hackett had a special word of appreciation for the doctors, nurses and staff of the hospitals, and for those who made conveyances available to bring the injured to Blenheim. It was all a remarkable demonstration of what the community would do in an emergency, he added. Nobody had spared time, effort or expense in giving whatever assistance was within their power.
LINE CLEAR By the use of equipment which included a 40-ton crane on a special break-down train, bulldozers and tractors, the litter of wreckage has now been cleared. This was accomplished early yesterday afternoon and today normal services on the line were resumed. Since the first bulldozers and tractors were requisitioned, and with the arrival of the break-down train from Christchurch, miracles of salvage have been performed at the cutting where the disaster occurred.
The acting-Minister of Railways (Mr Hackett) announced that a commission of inquiry will be opened as soon as possible at Blenheim.
The chairman would be Sir Francis Frazer, but the other two members of the commission have not yet been appointed. Mr Hackett added that the wrecked engine was being left in its position at the scene of the crash until technical experts complete their examination and until it is inspected by members of the commission.
More than 50 men worked all night under acetylene flares at the tremendous task of cutting the twisted debris clear of the lines. As each section was cut apart a big crane lifted it clear, and early yesterday there remained only one carriage to be removed.
By 2.30 yesterday afternoon the line was again operable and the first train passed over the section, a heavily laden goods tram with perishable cargo from Blenheim to Christchurch. The wrecked engine of the express still lies at a crazy angle against the bank of the cutting, but well clear of the line.
An attempt will be made to lift it during the week-end. Six of the 36 injured in the disaster have been discharged from hospital.  -Northern Advocate, 27/2/1948.

Terror on the tracks |
Photo courtesy of The Marlborough Express/Stuff website.

(P.A.) BLENHEIM, June 12. The preliminary hearing of evidence before justices of the peace began in the Police Court of charges of manslaughter against Joseph William Gurr, driver of the south-bound express which crashed near Seddon on February 25. 
Gurr faces five charges of manslaughter, the first in connection with the death of Gwendoline Rose Cresswell and the second relative to the deaths of Kathleen Margaret Flyger, Ettie Irene Shields, Rose Alma Shields, Stephen Henry James Warman, and Ronald Spencer Hawkins. 
Erl Lortie, a former Railways Department platelayer who was a passenger on the train, said that soon after the train left Seddon he made a complaint that it was travelling too fast to make curves. “Then I felt a jolt and saw a cloud of dust. All I felt at the back of the train was two or three short jolts and I then reached out and pulled the air brake.” 
Later, witness said there was another railway man in the carriage and he went to pull the emergency brake but witness beat him to it. 
Witness, who said he had had experience in several countries as an enginedriver, stated that none of the express trains on which he was a passenger had travelled at anything like the speed of this train. 
This evidence was taken because witness intends shortly to leave for America. 
Further evidence will be given, probably by 30 witnesses, in Blenheim starting on June 28.  -Gisborne Herald, 14/6/1948.

(P.A.) BLENHEIM, July 10. The cause of the Seddon railway disaster on February 25, when six passengers lost their lives, was due to inefficient, administration of the Railways Department, according to the verdict of a jury in the Supreme Court trying the driver of the train, Joseph William Gurr, on charges of manslaughter.
The trial, which commenced on Tuesday, ended at 9.30 last night, after 30 witnesses had been called on behalf of the Crown, including several departmental technical experts. The jury retired at 4.45 o’clock yesterday afternoon and returned at 9 p.m. to inform Mr. Justice Stanton that it thought it would reach an agreement within half an hour.
His Honour granted the extension and the jury returned at 9.30 with a verdict of not guilty and putting in the rider mentioned. When the Grand Jury returned a true bill on Tuesday, it presented a rider to the Bench that in the interests of public safety instruments to determine speed should be installed on railway engines.  -Gisborne Herald, 10/7/1948.

Invercargill Cemetery

23506 Private Daniel Brew 26/3/1891-24/11/1918.

Daniel Brew was born in Ireland and working as a labourer in the Invercargill area when he joined the Otago Regiment of the New Zealand Army in 1916.

He was wounded on October 13, 1917, during the Battle of "3rd Ypres," better known as Passchendaele.   The concise entry ("GSW back") and a status of "seriously ill" from his gunshot wound on other pages hint at a world of pain for Private Daniel Brew.  His classification as "unfit" by a Medical Board would have been a mere formality for a man paralysed from the waist down.

Daniel died not long after the announcement of the Armistice which ended the hostilities of the Great War.  I cannot imagine how he and his family could have felt on that day, thirteen days before his death.

Invercargill Cemetery.

NZ411753 Sergeant Laurie Albert Frampton 1922-29/7/1942.

Laurie Frampton has not been an easy man to find out about.  My usual source, "Papers Past," has little containing his name beyond a few "Official Lists" and the family's announcement.  

Laurie, after aircrew training in Canada, joined 75 (NZ) Squadron of the Royal Air Force, which has a very useful website run by the son of one of its members. It is truly a labour of love. There I was able to find the following account of the last mission of Vickers Wellington bomber Z1570 and its crew:

Wellington Mk.III Z.1570 AA-B crashed near the small town of Lingen, 130 miles South West of Hamburg and close to the Netherlands border. It may have been attacked by a night-fighter either en route to the target or on its way back to base. Whatever the situation, Sgt. Johns the captain, was unable to maintain control and a crash landing became inevitable. It was not survivable and all crew members died. They were initially buried at Lingen-on-Ems, but later transferred to Reichswald Forest Cemetery.

Laurie was listed as "missing on air operations" in August, 1942, and then "missing presumed killed" on January 2, 1943.

On January 11 the family made their announcement in the local paper.

Photo courtesy of the Online Cenotaph.

For the Empire's Cause. FRAMPTON.— Sergeant Laurie Albert (Dick), dearly loved son of Harold Albert and Helen Frampton, 118 Yarrow street, Invercargill, killed on air operations over Germany July 29, 1942; aged 20 years. R.I.P. Buried in New Cemetery, Lingen-on-Ems, Germany.   -Evening Star, 11/1/1943.

Invercargill Cemetery.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

NZ42427 Warrant Officer 2 (pilot) Neil Evan MacLeod MacDonald 5/11/1922-28/12/1944.

Image courtesy of the "Aircrew Remembered" page.

Neil MacDonald was a Southland boy, educated at the Southland Boys' High School and working as a clerk at ther National Mortgage and Agency Company when he enlisted in the Air Force.  He learned to fly at Taieiri, near Dunedin and then at Wigram, near Christchurch.  In January, 1943, he leaft for Britain and the war.  More advanced training went on before he was posted to an operational squadron, 33, in August.

No. 33 Squadron RAF was flying Spitfires out of Glamorgam, Scotland, at the time but moved to Lympne in England to fly fighter support for D-Day and later began to operate from France on ground-attack missions.  33 moved back to Britain at the end of 1944 to re-equip with the Hawker Tempest.

Neil MacDonald took off at 1030hrs in a Tempest fighter for some local flying practice.  While doing so, he experienced engine failure and decided to force land his plane. Neil had the misfortune to hit a stone wall 80 metres after his emergency touchdown.  His Tempest burst into flame on impact.  Possibly stunned by the crash, Neil did not stand a chance.

The cause of the engine failure was traced to a broken connecting rod.  

Neill MacDonald's funeral.  Courtesy of the "Aircrew Remembered" page.

Invercargill Cemetery.

Thomas Black Connor and John Black Connor -4-6/1943.

Thomas Black Connor was a station manager in the Kyeburn area when he boarded the Dunedin train in Ranfurly on June 6, 1943.  The train was running a little late and the driver ran it a little fast.  The result was a crash on a curve within a cutting and 21 deaths.  Thomas' son John was also one of those killed.

18 Persons Dead; 40 Injured 
(P.A.) DUNEDIN, June 4. Ranking as the worst of the comparatively few serious accidents in New Zealand railway history, a disastrous derailment on the Central Otago line this afternoon caused the death of 18 passengers and injury to at least 40 others. 
The train left Cromwell at 9.10 o’clock this morning for Dunedin, carrying about 100 passengers. It had reached the curve in the cutting three miles on the Dunedin side of Hyde, about 1.45 p.m. when the engine, which was travelling at speed, left the track and crashed on its side. The first carriage ran past the engine, telescoped, and was smashed. The remaining five carriages piled up behind the engine in a tangled mass of wreckage. More than half the passengers on the train were either killed or injured. 
All possible aid was immediately arranged by Dunedin railway officials and rushed to the scene from the Ranfurly, Middlemarch, and Waipiata hospitals, while three fully-staffed ambulances, two doctors, and a number of nurses were dispatched from Dunedin. Two railway buses and two corporation buses were also sent to bring to Dunedin any passengers able to travel
KILLED The names of those killed known so far are:— 
THOMAS M. CHISHOLM, of Cromwell. 
MRS W. WHITE, 46 Harper street, Timaru. 
A BOY, aged five, son of Mrs White. 
A BOY, aged six months, son of Mrs White. 
THOMAS B. CONNOR, of Kyeburn. 
VIVIAN CARSON, of Ranfurly. 
M. TYRREL, of Mount Albert. Wanaka. 
ROBERT CARR, aged 80, of Patearoa. 
Unidentified among the dead are:— A youth aged from 16 to 18 years. A middle-aged man with a rail ticket from Alexandra to Timaru. A boy, aged about four years. 
INJURED Among the injured, the following have been admitted to the Dunedin Hospital:— 
Frederick Christopher, of 250 Main South road, Dunedin, aged 22, head injuries. 
Miss Dorothy Robinson, of Broughton street, Dunedin, aged 24. 
Mrs Marguerite Ward, of Hyde, aged 25, both legs fractured. 
Mrs Ward’s child, slight injuries. 
James McBride, care of J. Mee, Lauder, abrasions and shock. 
Mrs Margaret Hansen, of Melmore street, Cromwell, aged 61 years, fractured ribs. 
A. R. Wright, of Eskvale street, Musselburgh, aged 30 years, bruised hip and abrasions. 
Also injured was the engine-driver, J. P. Corcoran, who suffered a badly fractured arm and severe scalds, and was admitted to the Ranfurly Hospital. The fireman, S. G. Hollowes, was badly scalded. A guard named Pratt also suffered scalds. 
Heavy Show Traffic. The train comprised six carriages and carried about 100 passengers, including many coming to town for the Winter Show and for the races at Wingatui to-morrow. 
No horses were on the train. 
It is officially stated that the derailment occurred at 1.45 p.m., and the first information was received at Dunedin at 2.9 p.m. by telephone from Waipiata, the call being sent by a man who walked a mile from the scene of the accident. 
Immediately after the accident contact was established by telephone with the railway authorities at Dunedin, and a breakdown train was at once assembled and dispatched to the scene. 
Few details were available tonight, but from information to hand the magnitude of the disaster and the well-organised dispatch wherewith the emergency was met have become apparent. 
A tragic incident was that in which an elderly woman was rescued, but lost her husband, a daughter, and two grandchildren among the killed. 
In another instance a woman was rescued after being pinned under the wreckage for five hours, during the whole of which time she remained conscious. She was pinned by the legs, and the rescuers were unable to set her free. 
Injured Taken to Hospital Immediately after the accident doctors were called in from all neighbouring centres, and local residents as well as ambulance and railway staffs gave valuable assistance. 
The injured were removed to the Ranfurly Hospital, where about 32 were accommodated. A few were sent to the Middlemarch Hospital, and a few more to Dunedin. 
Early reports gave the number believed to have been killed as 13, but it was stated officially at 10.30 p.m. that the dead numbered 18. The wreckage was then reported to have been cleared. As the bodies were extricated from the wreckage they were removed to the Hyde Hall, where they were placed in the charge of the police and of the ambulance authorities for identification. 
Uninjured passengers had begun to arrive in Dunedin before 10 p.m., and some of the more seriously injured reached the Dunedin Hospital shortly after 10 p.m. 
Passengers who were in the second carriage from the front were able to escape through the windows, and most of them were not seriously injured. They stated that for about three minutes before the accident occurred they felt the train swaying. They also said that because of the isolated position where the accident occurred about an hour and a half elapsed before rescuers began to arrive. In the meantime uninjured passengers in rear carriages rendered first aid. They paid high tributes to the great rescue work performed by Mr Philip Banon, a member of the Merchant Navy, who recently returned from a Pacific base. 
Another passenger, travelling in the last car but one said that as the accident occurred this carriage appeared to go up in the air and then lurch forward, but no one was injured. Immediately after the accident one carriage finished its course about a chain ahead of the engine. 
This witness said that many of those buried in the wreckage were badly mangled, and before they could be extricated, jacks had to be used. 
A woman passenger said that the first carriage was reduced to a shambles. It drove right past the engine and the second carriage was jammed tight up against the engine. The third carriage was piled up on an embankment. 
There was a pathetic scene outside the Railway Road Transport depot in Dunedin as bus-loads of passengers began to arrive shortly after 10 p.m. Relatives and friends had gathered in large numbers, many of them having had no word as to the fate of those for whom they were waiting. Anxious people watched each bus arrive and sought for sign or word of expected relatives or friends. Many of the arrivals were in a dishevelled state, with clothes torn and dirty from their ordeal in the wreck and subsequent assistance. 
Hyde, the scene of yesterday’s disaster, is 64 miles north-west from Dunedin, on the Otago Central railway. It is situated at the foot of the Rock and Pillar Range and is one mile from the Taieri river. 
MESSAGE OF SYMPATHY FROM GOVERNMENT (P.A.) WELLINGTON, June 4. The Prime Minister (the Rt. Hon. P. Eraser.) has requested that a message of the deepest sympathy from the Government and himself be conveyed to the relatives of those killed and also to those injured in the accident which occurred this afternoon on the Otago Central railway. 
The sympathy of the department and himself has been expressed by the Minister of Railways (the Hon. R. Semple). 
From preliminary information received in Wellington, he said, a number of people had lost their lives and 40 others had been injured. As soon as word was received, immediate steps were taken to send ambulances and doctors to the scene of the accident, and local officers also immediately left Dunedin to render whatever assistance could be given. 
PUBLIC INQUIRY (P.A.) WELLINGTON, June 4. The Minister of Railways (the Hon. R. Semple) announced to-night that the Otago railway accident would be the subject of a public inquiry as provided for in the Government Railways Act. The personnel of the Inquiry Board would be announced as early as practicable. 
DISASTER OF 1923 ONGARUE DERAILMENT RECALLED The disaster near Hyde recalls the derailment of the North Island Main Trunk express at Ongarue 20 years ago, when 14 people were killed, three died from injuries, and 30 were injured. On July 6, 1923, the south-bound express ran into a slip a mile south of Ongarue, three carriages being badly telescoped and the engine practically buried in debris. 
The derailment was caused by a three-ton boulder falling from the hiliside right in front of the engine as it turned the bend, too late for the driver to take action. The engine and the mail van went over on their left sides, and the three, carriages piled up behind.
Fourteen passengers were killed when the carriages telescoped, and another died on the afternoon of the disaster. Two more seriously injured passengers died two days later.  -Press, 5/6/1943.

The railway accident on the Otago Central railway line, near Hyde. Above, vieivs of the wreckage. Below, the wrecked engine and carriages in the cutting. When the photograph was being taken raihvay workers were clearing the ivreckage and laying a temporary line for the breakdown crane. (Evening Post, 08 June 1943)
Evening Post photo, courtesy of the National Library.

In the Supreme Court yesterday morning, before Mr Justice Kennedy, apportionment orders were made dealing with damages recovered from the Crown in three of the claims arising out of the Hyde railway disaster. Mr J. P. Ward appeared in support of all the applications. In the case of Duncan Burns Lindsay, deceased, of Wedderburn, the sum of £2750 recovered was apportioned by giving £200 to each of two daughters and £l50 to a son now of full age, the balance, after payment of costs, to be paid to the widow. In the case of Duncan Macdonald, deceased, formerly of Patearoa, in which the sum of £2063 had been recovered as damages, the court approved of the suggestion that £1000 be set aside as a class fund for the four children, and the balance, after payment of expenses, allotted to the widow.
In the case of Thomas Black Connor, deceased, the sum of £2675 had been paid in settlement on the widow’s petition of right, and the court approved of the suggestion that the sum of £125, expenses incurred by the widow, should be refunded to her. After payment of legal costs, one half of the balance is to be held by the Public Trustee as a class fund for the three children, the remainder to be paid to the widow, subject to its being used to repay the mortgage on her present home.   -Otago Daily Times, 9/8/1945.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

8289 Private Gunn Leckie 3/10/1907-1/12/1941 plus 22326 Gunner Cameron Farquharson Leckie, 1906-18/10/1941

Photograph, Gunn Leckie WWII; Unknown photographer; 1940-1945; WY.1993.81.25
Gunn Leckie. Photo courtesy of the Wyndham and District Historical Museum, obtained online through the NZ Museums website.

On Queen's Birthday weekend, 2020, I spent about five hours in the Invercargill Cemetery, walking the lines of the graves and photographing likely inscriptions for future blogging research.  By chance, the previous day in Dunedin, I had found and bought a history of the Redan - a small farming area well off the highway I had travelled on south to Invercargill.  

"Redan - Valley of Farming and Flaxmilling" had the following account of the death in action of one of its sons and it was a surprise to find him commemorated on the stone above the grave where his mother was buried.

Gunn Leckie's story - in a report which resulted in his being awarded the Distinguished Combat Medal (posthumously) - is abbreviated below:

Three enemy tanks directly out in front started to advance again and I had visions of being run over and squashed. However they came to a halt sixty yds in front. A/Sgt Lockhart ordered us to fire at the slits and we opened fire. I fired half a magazine but received such a hail of bullets decided it was useless firing at a tank once he had spotted you. Pte "Gun" Leckie in a trench a few yards to my right was firing steadily with a Boyes A Tk rifle. Apparently he was annoying the tanks as twice I saw the turret swing round and send a hail of bullets in his direction. He bobbed down each time the turret swung round and up again and continued firing when the tank was concentrating on other objects. He ran out of ammunition, yelled out for more, which we threw over to him. "Gun" Leckie then continued firing and we could actually see the bullets bouncing off the tank, it was so close. Suddenly, and very quickly the turret swung round, and the tank opened fire with its 75mm, "Gun" Leckie receiving a direct hit with the shell, which also destroyed the Boyes A Tk Rifle and blew away part of the parapet. The tank could not have been more than fifty yards away from him at the time...

Report by 9743 Sgt P. A. McConchie, HQ Coy, 20 NZ Bn.

The Boyes anti-tank rifle was a 1937 design.  It fired a .55 inch armour-piercing round and had a vicious kick, despite a sliding recoil system for the barrel and rubber padding for the user. It was effective in the early stages of World War 2 against armoured and unarmoured targets.

By the time "Gun" Leckie was using it, it was obselete and only a lucky, close-range hit on a lightly-armoured part of a 1940s tank stood a chance of damaging it.

Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Acroma.  Photo courtesy of the NZ War Graves Project.

Invercargill Cemetery.

As can be seen, Gunn's brother Cameron also died in North Africa.  He was in the 7th Anti-tank Regiment of the 2nd NZ Divisional Artillery.  He lies buried in Heliopolis War Cemetery in Egypt and is reported to have died of sickness.

The story below would suggest that Cameron went missing in battle, found his way back to British lines and died later from sickness.

Portrait, Weekly News - This image may be subject to copyright
Photo courtesy of the Online Cenotaph.

(P.A.) WELLINGTON, Friday. A further 77 members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force previously reported missing have been traced, 72 of them being prisoners of war and five having found their way back safely to the base camp. One death from sickness is reported. An official casualty list issued to-night is as follows: —  -Auckland Star, 25/10/1941.

At the time of Cameron's death his unit was recuperating from the hard time they'd had during the  Greek Campaign and the German airborne invasion of Crete.  My best guess, based on the Official History of the 2nd NZ Divisional Artillery, is that Cameron went missing in Greece and managed to make his way to Egypt from there.

Photo courtesy of the NZ War Graves Project.

The Redan Roll of Honour contains the names of eleven young men who went to the Second World War and returned.  The Leckie brothers were two of the five who did not.  

Monday, 25 May 2020

Thomas Garrett, 1861-8/5/1881.

(From the 'Morning Herald')
A serious accident occurred on the Roslyn Cable Tramway Company's line on Saturday night. The accident happened at about twenty-five minutes past eleven. A tramcar got up Rattray street as far as Smith street (near the Roman Catholic Cathedral), when something went amiss. The tramway is worked by an endless wire rope running in a chamber below the street level, and a start is made by the tramcar gripping the wire rope, which is always running. The tramcars are each fitted with a very powerful brake, so powerful that the wheels can be lifted off the line. Unfortunately, however, on Saturday night, it appears that at the moment when the brake should have been applied, it was screwed the wrong way, and the carriage became unmanageable. Control of the carriage was lost at the points near the corner of Smith street. In a moment it could be heard, with a whirring bumping motion, tearing along the rails down Rattray street. Those in the carriage soon realised the seriousness of their danger, and some of them jumped out and were badly hurt. The carriage shot down Rattray street with fearful velocity; the gripper cut through five feet of a surface of four inch planks, and the carriage then slued round and was thrown on its side with great force. Nearly the whole of the glass was smashed and the occupants were cut, bruised, covered with blood, and many of them rendered insensible by the force of the concussion, but in general those who jumped out received the worst injuries. The following is a list of those who were in the car, and the injuries sustained by each:—Andrew Thomson (of Messrs Thomson, Strang, and Co.) Mr Thomson's injuries are very serious. Two of the ribs on his right side are broken, and his collar-bone on the right side is also hroken, and he is very badly cut and bruised and greatly shaken. Mr Thomson jumped off the carriage somewhere near the Shamrock stables. Thomas Strang (of Messrs Thomson, Strang, and Co.) — Slightly bruised about the body, but very badly cut about the face. William Stewart, operator in the Telegraph Office, elbows and knees very severely cut and bruised, face also cut. Harry Harvey, circus man, new injury to a broken arm. Harvey is now in the Hospital, but it is denied that he was in the car, and therefore that his arm was not hurt there. We are informed that Mr Harvey got the hurt to his arm two or three days prior to Saturday. Rasmus Johnson, one of the drivers employed by the Roslyn Tramway Company, slightly bruised and a little shaken. Thomas Gibson Spears, clerk in the Post Office, badly bruised and cut and seriously shaken. James Forsyth, conductor of the car, bruised and cut on the head and wrist. Peter Hannah, brakesman or driver, the man in charge of the car. Mr Hannah was only slightly bruised. John Conway, pretty well shaken, and very severe bruise and swelling on left knee. Mr Conway is a young man at Mr Dornwell's Kaikorai establishment. Peter Dow, youth, sore back through getting hit with a kerosene lamp which came upon him in the final crash. Master Dow's chief anxiety is who is to pay him for a suit of clothes spoiled by kerosene. — Hislop, cut and bruised. Thomas Garrett, saddler, picked up in a dying state, being terribly injured about the head, and not expected to survive. His case was given up as utterly hopeless on Saturday night, but the medical gentleman attending him thinks there are some faint hopes of his recovery. Thomas Liggins, clerk, employed at Messrs P. Hayman and Co.'s, resident of Upper York place — left leg badly hurt; it cannot be told whether the ankle is broken or sprained. Mr Liggins kept on the platform, and was thrown out by the jerk which took place when the car brought up at the terminus. Herbert Liggins, miller, employed at Messrs Royse, Stead, and Co.'s — slight concussion of the brain. Mr Liggins is cut straight down the top of his head, from the crown to the forehead. He does not recollect whether he jumped off the platform or was thrown from it, but it is believed he was thrown out by the shock at the terminus. He was a long time insensible. William Sly, managing clerk at S. de Beer and Co.'s —very slightly hurt. David Todd, points inspector—slightly bruised. David Arnold — not hurt. James Houghton — sprained ankle. Houghton was not in the tramcar. He was on the street near the terminus, and the car came down so quickly that it was almost by a miracle that he escaped being struck. In getting away he sprained his ankle. In all there were, not counting Harvey, sixteen persons in the tramcar. Arnold and the boy Dow were the only persons who escaped without injury; but another man (Houghton), not in the car, owes his injury to the accident. Immediately that the gripper would not act — that is to say would not grasp the endless rope travelling up hill — the car, being on an inclined plane, commenced to go down hill. This could have been prevented by the brake being rightly used, but it was not so used, and the time for action which would have ensured safety was missed. The brakes, one on each side, do not work against the wheels. They are large flat surfaces of wood which fit on to the rails. By screwing the brake wheel rightly, the flanges of the carriage wheels are lifted 4in above the rails if necessary, the carriage is supported upon the brakes, and the wheels revolve in air. But the brake was screwed the wrong way — upwards, not downwards. Immediately that the brake was put wrong, the car was beyond control, and the occupants realised their dangerous position. The wire rope was all right, and working properly after the accident. The car was carried a little beyond the terminus, owing to the gripper cutting through planks four inches in thickness and a layer of clay and metal for a distance of five feet. If the gripper had broken there is no doubt that the car would have gone bodily through the Crown Hotel. There is no doubt the accident was owing to the brake not being properly applied. 
A member of the firm of Messrs Cossens and Black, engineers, who experimented with the cars when they were built, says, however, that with the cars going 25 miles an hour they were instantly stopped by applying the brake With the brake full on, the flanges of the wheels are four inches above the rails. The opinion of the practical man before cited is, that no matter the speed, by putting on the brake the car is pulled up in three yards at the outside. The Directors of the Roslyn Tramway Company met, and made all the inquiries possible. They decided in the interest of the Company to send Dr Macdonald to visit all those who had been injured by the accident. Mr Peter Hannah called upon us and made the following statement: —I deny that I turned on the brake the wrong way, as has been asserted in the reports of the accident. It is, however, quite possible that some of those in the car may have thought that I was doing so, because the screw with which the brake is worked is what is called a "lefthanded screw," and a stranger seeing it worked might think that it was being turned the wrong way. When I first found that the gripper had lost its hold on the rope, I applied the gripper, but as it did not hold, I put on the brake. All the passengers whom I saw crowded together on the lower end of the car, which had the effect of pressing that end downwards, and of tipping up the other end of the car. I believe that that was the reason why the brake did not act.  -Lake County Press, 28/4/1881.

Early photo of the Rattray St line. Hocken Library photo.

Thomas Garratt, who was very severely injured by the lioslyn Tramway disaster on Saturday, was formerly an apprentice to Mr Reany, lately saddler in Rattray-street. He was a remarkably steady young man, and, in conjunction with his brother, built the residence occupied by the family at Roslyn. His elder brother, John, frequently worked as a coach painter at Balclutha, and has been for over two years engaged painting ploughs for Reid and Gray. Mr John Garrett, senr., was formerly a lawyer's clerk in his brother's office in Lincoln.   -Bruce Herald, 26/4/1881.

The sufferers by this unfortunate accident continue to progress favourably towards recovery, with the exception of Thomas Garrett. He remains in a critical state in the Hospital. Last night we were informed that Dr Brown considered his condition slightly improved. He breathes regularly, and is quite calm, but remains entirely unconscious. Nourishment has been administered to him, and also medicine. There is a possibility of his recovery, but it is a remote one. There are few grounds of hope. Considerable interest is felt in his condition, as he is well known in Dunedin and was much respected, as are the whole of the members of his family. Another of the sufffrers has, we are sorry to say, taken a slight turn for the worse, although no danger is anticipated. We refer to Herbert Liggins, who received a scalp wound through being thrown from the car. During Sunday night and part of yesterday he was delirious, showing that his injury was more serious than was at first anticipated. Still, however, as we have said, no danger is feared. Mr Thomson is getting on well, as are all the others, we are glad to say. As we stated in our report yesterday morning, there was considerable difficulty in ascertaining exactly how many passengers were on the car at the time. We put the number yesterday at eight (exclusive of the Company's employes), being confident regarding that number, because Dr Macdonald on behalf of the Company had made investigation as to the extent of their injuries. We now learn that there were three more, making a total of 11 passengers in all.
These three all escaped unhurt, having remained in the car until the final crash. Their names were:—Peter Dow, a youth employed in a slaughteryard at Maori Hill, and the son of Mrs. Dow, a widow residing in that, suburb; David Arnold, a saddler in the employ of Messrs Smyth and Marshall, of Hope street, and whose parents reside at Maori Hill; and John Henderson, a stonecutter employed in Mr Munro's yard, and whose parents reside at Maori Hill. These three young men were in Dunedin in company with John Conway, a butcher, residing at Roslyn, and referred to in our report yesterday as having been injured. They all got on board the car together, Conway alone staying on the platform, the other three taking their seats inside. When the car began to go down hill, Conway intended to jump off, but Arnold, from the inside, called out to him not to do so. He saw Stewart, the telegraph clerk, jump out and get spun like a top ere he fell; and then he (Conway) turned to go inside. Whether he ever got in or not he does not know. He was picked up in a stunned condition opposite the Crown Hotel after the crash, and was taken to the Clarendon Hotel. Arnold, Henderson, and Dow were inside. Arnold got off very nearly scot-free, being thrown on top of three or four others at the bottom end of the car. Henderson seems to have fared much in the same way, and was unhurt; whilst Dow's only injury was a slight hurt to his back. The kerosene lamp smashed over him. Arnold, Henderson, and, we believe, Dow also, were at work yesterday; Conway will be in bed for two or three days, having a swollen knee and a slight injury to his back. 
Whilst the abovenamed three young men were not mentioned by us as having been connected with the accident, popular report had credited one or two as being connected with it who were fortunately  not so. MrWilliam Sly well known in Dunedin, was one of these. He was able to congratulate himself yesterday that he was not even slightly hurt, having never been in the car at all, nor on the scene, we believe. The case of Henry Harvey was referred to yesterday. There is some doubt whether he was in the car but he still remains in the Hospital and is suffering from a fractured wrist. 
The cars were running yesterday on the line, as usual, and were patronised up to the average. A good number, of ladies even felt courageous enough to tackle the trip. There was no hitch whatever in the running. The cars used were the open ones. Mr Hannah is not at work meantime. He considers the statement made that he screwed the brakes the wrong way was not justified. He asserts positively that he turned the screw properly but states that the brakes would not act. The reason for this, in his opinion, was that the passengers had gone principally forward to one end of the car, and by their weight tilted it to some extent, thus lifting the greater part of the brakes off the rails. He adds that the same car had, on previous occasion, tilted in the same way, and also that he has corroborative evidence of the fact that the brakes were fully screwed down by a person who examined the car for, him after the occurrence. Of' course there is the statement of young Todd that he told Hannah he was screwing the brake the wrong way against the foregoing; but in justice to Mr Hannah his explanation, which is a reasonable one, should be given. The conflict of testimony proves the necessity for a rigid inquiry, which we believe the directors of the Company intend to ask for at once from the Government.  -Otago Daily Times, 26/4/1881.

There is still a slight improvement to be recorded in the condition of Thomas Garrett. He is believed to have heard what was said to him at times yesterday.  -Otago Daily Times, 29/4/1881.

During Thursday night Thomas Garrett took an unfavourable turn, and yesterday morning his life was despaired of. Towards evening however, he improved a little. He still remains unconscious and in a doubtful state.  -Otago Daily Times, 30/4/1881.

Mr Thomas Garrett, who was so seriously injured by the late tramway accident, was last evening still in an unconscious condition. During the afternoon he was apparently sinking rapidly, and though afterwards he seemed somewhat better, there is reason to fear that no hope can be entertained of hisrecovery.  -Otago Daily Times, 3/5/1881.

Thomas Garrett, the chief sufferer by the Roslyn tram accident, has taken another favorable turn, and strong hopes are now entertained of his recovery.   -Otago Daily Times, 4/5/1881.

The Roslyn Tramway Accident. — Thomas Garrett, who was severely injured in this accident, died on Thursday night.  -Southland Times, 7/5/1881.

The funeral of Thomas Garrett, the victim of the Roslyn tram accident, took place on Sunday and was largely attended. The inquest is being continued to-day at the Shamrock Hotel, so that jurors can inspect the scene of accident and working of the line.   -Cromwell Argus, 10/5/1881.

Roslyn Tramway Accident. The inquest on the body of Garrett, who died from injuries received at the Roslyn tramway accident, was continued at Dunedin, yesterday. The relatives of the deceased, the conductor of the cars (Peter Hannah), and the Company, were represented by lawyers. Mr Denniston, having objected to the Coroner’s way of taking the evidence down, provoked the following reply from the Coroner: — “I by no means underrate the value of lawyers’ services, but at the same time I am convinced we are quite competent to make the fullest inquiry without legal assistance, and on that principle I intend to act.” From a telegram in another column, it will be seen that a verdict of manslaughter was brought against the conductor.  -Ashburton Guardian, 10/5/1881.

Criminal Sittings
NO BILLS. The Grand Jury found no true bill in the following indictments: —Henry Charles Meade, attempt to commit suicide; Peter Hannah, manslaughter.   -Evening Star, 4/7/1881.

Thomas Garrett's grave, Southern Cemetery, Dunedin. DCC photo.