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.

Kin Hay, 1855-27/10/1900

Kin Hay arrived in New Zealand in 1880.  He worked in a market garden in what is now known as Brockville and he was able to visit his wife back in China once while he was living in New Zealand.

He is buried in Dunedin's Southern Cemetery.  A number of new stones have been placed there in recent years but, as far as I know (being unable to read them), his is not one of them. 

[Per Press Association.] DUNEDIN, Oct. 26. While the 9.30 a.m. Roslyn car was on its way to town this morning, the grippers failed to catch the rope. The efforts of the lineman were unavailing, owing to the greasy nature of the rail in consequence of the rain. The car sped like lightning down the track. Nine passengers were on board. One of them, a boy, jumped off, and escaped with slight bruises. When opposite to the Roman Catholic Church a Chinaman, named Kin Hey, who is believed to have jumped off, was thrown against an iron fence and killed. A piece of bone seven inches long was knocked out of the front of his forehead. Opposite the Shamrock Hotel the car turned over, the passengers being underneath. The three most severely injured were removed to the hospital. They are Alexandrina Matheson, who sustained injuries to her back, spine and chest, and will probably recover; Kathleen Moore (her niece), who is unconscious, and is suffering from a slight concussion of the brain; and Lay Ling, suffering from a concussion of the brain, with a scalp wound and a general shock to his system.  -Star, 27/10/1900.

Early photo of a cable car on Rattray St with St Joseph's cathedral behind.  To the right of the camera would be the Otago Girls High School fence, the site of Kin Hay's death.

A deplorable accident occurred on the Roslyn Tram Company's cable line this morning. No. 4 car, driven by James McIntosh, (residing in Russell-street), left the Ann street starting point, on the top of the hill, at 9.30, with six passengers on board. Three more were picked up at Ross street. The car safely reached the engine shed, and went a few yards further towards town, to a point close to the transfer table. Here the passengers were requested to change to No. 7 car, and they did so. No. 7 car was at the time standing on the brakes. McIntosh, the driver, jumped on first, looked at his brakes, saw the passengers safely, on board, and then released the brakes slightly so as to give the car a little more play, intending to pick up the rope a few yards down the line. This was his custom. When first started, the car began to run slowly. She soon began to make more headway, but the driver did not dream of any danger, believing that he could control her with the brakes. This condition of affairs lasted till the car reached the brow of the hill leading into the cutting which is crossed by a footbridge. McIntosh was still confident that he had the vehicle in hand. As proof of this confidence on the driver's part, it may be mentioned that just before coming to the brow of the steep incline he noticed that a boy who was amongst the passengers was about to jump off, and he sang out to the boy something to the effect that it was all right, meaning that he had better hold on. Getting fairly on to the steep incline the car quickly gathered speed, and in fact ran away. The rope had not been caught. At the Cathedral corner one of the three Chinamen who were on board leaped off and, being thrown against the galvanised iron fence at the back of the Girls' High Sohool ground, he was immediately killed. The driver still believed, in spite of the great speed at which the car was running, that he could control her with the brakes, and to prove this it may be remarked that at the Shamrock corner he actually took some of the pressure off the slipper brake, thinking that the car would thereby run easier round that curve. This was almost at the moment of the car's overturning. She came sharply round, on her broad side, away from Curtis's shop, and overset in the middle of the road, imprisoning the driver and the passengers who had hung on during the sensational descent. Numbers of willing hands from the crowd lifted the car off the persons underneath her, and it was found that they had all escaped with their lives; in fact, considering the circumstances, marvellously little injury was done, though, of course, all concerned were more or less shaken. 
The cause of the transference of the passengers from No. 4 car was that the company's blacksmith, James Reid, wanted to overhaul her. No. 7 was one of the ordinary cars, and had been running for some time, and was in perfect order. Even after the accident the brakes were tested and found to work all right. 
James McIntosh, the driver, has been in the company's service for about twelve months, and for nine months has been in the position of driver. During this time he has met with no mishap of any importance, and we have the authority of Mr Hugh McColl, the company's track and traffic foreman, for saying that McIntosh was looked upon as one of their best men. He is a strong man, between twenty-three and twenty-four years of age, active, and thoroughly acquainted with his work. He hung on to his post to the very last, and by all accounts kept quite cool. When seen by one of our reporters this morning, a couple of hours after the accident, he had recovered from the dazed condition in which he was when picked up, and was able to dictate his account of the occurrence. His only injury is a bruised hip. 
There was another of the company's hands on the car at the time — Henry Downes, a car cleaner. He had just finished cleaning No. 7, and took his passage on her to town.
AT THE HOSPITAL. Four of the nine passengers were conveyed from the car to the hospital, where they were treated. They are Miss Alexandrina Mathieson (who lives in Kaikorai with her married sister), Mrs Moore, Miss Katharine Moore (aged about eighteen years, who is supposed to be a neice of the former and who lives in the same locality), Kin Hay (who was a gardener in the employ of Sun Duck, gardener, of Kaikorai), and Lai Ling (who works at the same garden). 
The Chinaman Kin Hay, who is said to have jumped off the car as it came down the hill at full speed, was killed — in fact, death must have been instantaneous. From all accounts he made a flying leap off the car just below the Cathedral, landing with terrific force upon the galvanised iron fence which is at the side of the road. His skull was fractured, a great piece of bone about 3 1/2in long and lin broad being knocked out. The wound is about 7in long, and wide, the grey brain within being exposed. The spot where the unfortunate man was thrown presented a gruesome appearance. 
Miss Mathieson remained in the car to the end. She has sustained a severe shock, and, in addition, has received injuries to her spine and the rear of her chest, from which, however, no serious consequences are apprehended. 
Miss Moore is still unconscious. She has sustained slight concussion of the brain and some injuries to the skull; but at present no dangerous developments are feared. 
The other Chinaman in hospital, Lai Ling, has concussion of the brain and some scalp wounds. He also suffers from general shock. He is semi-conscious at present, but hopes are entertained of his recovery. He was identified, as also was his less fortunate countryman, by two Chinamen who came to the hospital for this purpose. 
Harry Downes, the cleaner who was on board the car, sustained no severe injuries, his only hurts being some bruises on the legs and ankles. He was treated at the hospital, but did not need to remain. 
There was a third Chinese passenger, who apparently escaped unhurt, as he did not go to the hospital His name is Lao Goo, and he was employed with his countrymen at Sun Duck's garden.
THE DRIVER'S STATEMENT. The driver, McIntosh, made this statement to the police: — "I left the station at James street at 9.30 a.m., when I had on board two women, three Chinamen, and a boy. On going down to Ross street I picked up three more men. Two of these I knew — Mr Ewing and Mr Philp. We came down as far as the old sheds. The blacksmith told me to take the car that was standing in front of me, as he wanted to have a look at the one I was driving. All the passengers transferred to the other car. The car cleaner was on the car. He said: "I'll put the rope in." I replied: "All right, Harry (the cleaner's name being Harry Downes); I'll run down a bit, go as you can put it in easier." It is quite a usual thing to run down about 200 yds from the old sheds before gripping the rope. I felt the car going a little faster than usual, so I put on more brake power but it had no effect. Opposite the Cathedral one of the Chinamen jumped off. So far as I could see, none of the rest jumped off till the car capsized after turning the corner. 
Interviewed by our reporter, James McIntosh gave the following account of the occurrence:— "It was the 9.30 car from the top, from Ann street. We started with six passengers, and picked up three more in Ross street, so there were nine of them when we got to the old engine-house. There I found another car waiting for me, on the lower side of the transfer table. The passengers were requested to change into this other car. Reid, the blacksmith, had told me earlier in the morning that he wanted to look at my car — meaning No. 4 — and he told me to leave it at the transfer table and take No. 7, which he had just put off the side rails after giving her a thorough overhauling. This No. 7 car was standing on the brakes on the lower side of the transfer table. The passengers all changed on to No. 7. I jumped on her first. As soon as I got on I looked and found both the brakes all right. I found that by trying them. I thought the slipper brake would require a little more pressure, and I gave it the neccesary pressure. That is done by screwing a small hand wheel. That is the ordinary and every-day sort of thing. All us drivers do it so as to have the brake to suit ourselves. It is the custom for us — it is my custom, anyway — to run on the brakes down to about the path that crosses the line, about sixty or seventy feet. I did this, letting her go slowly, and then I went to pull her up, but found she did not work very well. I started to pull her up all the way down. I was working the brakes all the way down. Just before coming to the brow, entering the cutting, I saw a boy going to jump off, and I said to him that it would be all right if he hung on. She was going very slow, and I thought she was going to stop. I thought I had her fully in hand. When we got over the brow she started off full speed. I still felt that I could manage her, I kept working the brakes all down as far as the Cathedral. After coming round that curve I saw a Chinaman jump off. There were three of them. The other two stuck to the car. After that I started to use the dolphin striker — a brake that we keep in case of emergency. It goes between the slot rails in the form of a wedge, which can be driven down with a powerful screw lever. I had taken about three turns out of it when we were close on to the blacksmith's shop, I thought I would not put any more on, but I would chance the other brakes taking her round the Shamrock corner. I thought I could trust to taking her round the Shamrock curve safely on the brakes. Coming round the Shamrock corner I loosened the slipper brake, thinking by that means to make sure of her keeping on the rails. She kept on all right till on to the curve. After passing the Shamrock she went off the rails and went on to her side in the middle of the road. I hung on to her to the finish, and got pinned underneath, but somehow or other she never touched me."
THE PASSENGERS' STATEMENTS. Mr W. J. Bolam, manager of the New Zealand Insurance Company, on being interviewed by a member of our staff at his office, said: I left home this morning for the office, and caught the 9.30 tram at Ross street. Everything went all right for the first part of the journey. When we reached the old engine shed the passengers transferred on to another car, which was in waiting. Mr L. G. Reeves, Mr Philp (of Roslyn), and myself got into the front compartment. I am not sure where the other passengers were seated. I think Mr Ewing and three Chinamen took their seats on the side of the car facing the north, and two ladies sat in the back compartment. The rope was not put on the gripper at the old engine shed. The cleaner, I understand, was preparing to put the rope on the gripper, but for some reason or other this was not done. I think it was understood that the rope was to be fixed when we got a little farther down the line. At any rate we started, and after going a little way — some distance above the bridge — the brakes failed to work. Then the car went down the hill like lightning. I was sitting with my back to the driver, and did not see the Chinaman jump off. I kept my eyes in front, and prepared for the worst. I stretched my legs out and put them under the seat in front of me and held on hard, so as to be prepared for the jolt. The car continued to race down the hill at full speed. I thought that when we reached Arthur street the brakes might work, but this was not to be, and we hung on like grim death. It was an experience I will never forget. Mr Philp did not know how to save himself, and slipped on to my knees. It then struck me if I kept my legs stretched out they might get broken, so I pulled my legs in. When the car reached the inside curve at the Shamrock Hotel it rose on its end, and then turned over flat on its side, falling in the direction of the Crown Hotel. We were all in a heap inside our compartment, and when I picked myself up I made straight for Scoullar and Chisholms warehouse. I received a nasty shaking, but was not badly injured. Two of the joints of my hand were cut, and I had one of the nails of my fingers scratched. My leg was bruised, and it is still a bit sore. Mr Reeves escaped with a few scratches, and Mr Philp was cut about the head. I did not wait to see how any of the other passengers fared. I felt sick, and got away from the scene as quickly as possible. There was no conductor on the car. The driver always collects the fares in the morning. The brakes were put on hard all the way, but they seemed to have no power. The lines were very greasy, and that might have accounted in some way for the brakes failing to act. Before starting I saw the driver tighten up something — I suppose it had reference to the brake.
Mr John Philp, who was a passenger from the top of the hill, says that the car was uncontrollable from the start from the old engine-house. Apparently neither the grip nor the brakes would act. He states that there were nine passengers. He remained in the car till it reached the bottom of the hill, and the force of the impact drove him against the woodwork, with the result that he sustained a deep cut on the left cheek and another on the left eyebrow. His right arm is not broken, but it was severely hurt. He also received a blow upon the right side, in the ribs. 
Mr Ralph Ewing, of Roslyn, thus narrates what happened:— I came to town by the 9.30 a.m. car, picking it up at my own gate at Ross street, which is a stopping place. I occupied a seat on the open side (facing the east) of the car, which was opposite my own side of the street, and had alongside of me two Chinese whom I knew to be employed at Sonntag's garden in the Kaikorai; and opposite to me two ladies were already seated. We proceeded without any misadventure as far as the old engine sheds, where we were asked to change cars, and did so. I took my place, still on the eastern side, after the other passengers were seated, and had still one of the Chinamen as my fellow-passenger, the other having apparently taken a seat at the rear. The two ladies, who were evidently relatives or near neighbors, occupied seats on the opposite (western) side of the car to me, whilst in front were Mr Bolam, (manager of the New Zealand Insurance Company), Cr Philp (of Roslyn), and Mr L. G. Reeves (sharebroker). A boy and the second Chinaman were in the rear. There were in all nine passengers. At the old shed Driver McIntosh took charge of our car, and, as is customary, when all was ready for resuming the journey another of the company's employes came aboard with a long iron hook for the purpose of giving the rope to the driver. McIntosh said to the other man — I heard him distinctly: "I'll stop on the brow of the hill a little further down and take the rope from you then." So we started, the other man still on the car with the iron hook in his hand. McIntosh ought never to have started before he had gripped his rope, and I believe that this is one of the most particular orders issued by the company to their drivers. No sooner had McIntosh started than I noticed that he was working his two brakes for all he was worth, and that despite all his efforts he had lost control over his car, which was gathering momentum at an alarming pace. I saw now that an accident was inevitable, and at once made up my mind to stick to the car come what might. I saw the little fellow at the back jump off just as we entered the cutting, and I heard both the driver and the other man shout out and warn the other passengers not to jump. So quickly had we gathered way that we seemed to pass Rattray street like a streak of lightning. The marvel to me was how the car kept to the rails there or at the curve opposite the Cathedral, which we passed at a desperate rate. The Chinaman is said to have jumped off at the Cathedral corner, but I did not see him do so. My thoughts were intent on keeping my own position, and I looked straight ahead, keeping a tight grip with both hands on the iron bars near me, otherwise I must have been thrown off the car, which meant instantaneous death to me, as it did to the unfortunate Chinaman. From the manner in which the car tore down Rattray street I thought we should have gone to the bottom, but that did not happen. The car came to a standstill at the points just below the Shamrock Hotel, where it overturned on its broadside. I was the only person inside, and I was miraculously thrown clear of all the gear. The man who had offered to give the rope to the driver when we started was inside alongside of me, with the car lying on top of him and calling out piteously for assistance; he was pinioned by the legs. My own escape was extraordinary. When picked up I was covered with mud and dirt but except a knock on the back and general shaking I do not know if I am much the worse or not. I was taken into Laidlaw and Gray's, where I received immediate attention, for which I am truly grateful and I was afterwards examined at Mr Marshall's chemist shop by Dr Stephenson, who reported that I had received a considerable shock to my nervous system, and that I had a large swelling on my back. It was, indeed, most fortunate that none of the other passengers attempted to jump from the car after we had "bolted," for to have done so meant certain death, so great was the speed we travelled at after emerging from the cutting. I have no hesitation whatever in saying that the accident was wholly and solely due to the failure of the driver to secure the rope before starting - an act of negligence in ordinary circumstances, as I have already said, but doubly so considering the slippery state of the rails this morning.
Mr L. G. Reeves, who escaped with a shaking, was asked pointedly by one of our staff whether he noticed the way the driver shaped, and he answered that he did — that McIntosh kept cool throughout, and seemed to be doing his best. Mr Reeves added that when the emergency brake was applied, the speed of the car seemed to slacken. 
LATEST. On making inquiries at the hospital at a quarter to four this afternoon we were inormed that there has been no material change in the state of the patients. Miss Moore has partially recovered consciousness, and the other patients are doing as well as can be expected. To-day's accident will call to mind a somewhat similar mishap which occurred on the same line on the night of Saturday, April 23,1881, just two months after the line had been opened. The 11.30 p.m. down car had started on its journey, and everything went well until the car had rounded the bend where Smith street joins Rattray street, when, owing to the side strain on the rope, it slipped from the hold of the gripper, and before the brakes could be applied the car had commenced to run down hill, and gained in impetus as it progressed, until, with fearful velocity, it tore down to the terminus at the foot of Rattray street. The fifteen passengers — most of them jumped off before reaching the bottom were all more or less injured, and one, Thomas Garrett, sustained fatal injuries.  -Evening Star, 27/10/1900.

(By- Our Own Correspondent.)
The accident on the Roslyn tram line last Saturday created a great sensation in town. It would hardly be correct to say that a great shock was caused. One is shocked when something unexpected happens. But everybody to whom one spoke about this accident said that he was not surprised - that it was only a matter of time when it would occur. It was not so easy, however, to justify this confident belief that another serious accident on the line was bound to ocour. Nineteen years have nearly elapsed since the former occasion of a car breaking away with the result of loss of life and the infliction of injuries upon a number of passengers. There has been nothing to distinguish the recent management of the cars from that of the past fifteen years except that they have been becoming more dingy - a sad contrast to the cars on the Mornington line — and that they have been scandalously overcrowded. Saturday's accident had no connection, however, with overcrowding. It is on the ears going uphill, and particularly between 12 and two o'clock and between five and six o'clock, that passengers unable to obtain seats or standing-room in the body of the vehicle, clamber on the footboards and hang on by their eyebrows outside. There is as a rule no crowding on the cars from Roslyn down to town. Most residents of the hills prefer to walk down. There were only nine passengers on the 9.30 a.m. car on Saturday morning. There was, of course, the usual heavy proportion of people who just missed the tram. Had all who say they had intended to come down by it but were too late to catch it been on the car it would probably have been overcrowded. With only nine passengers those on board had plenty of room. The driver was a young man who had had several months' experience. He brought the tram along the lately opened extension to the old engine shed. There the passengers were transferred to another car which was standing on the table. The driver, McIlntosh by name, tried the brakes and after adjusting one of them, seems to have been satisfied with them. The car was at that time "standing on its brakes," — that is to say, the cable rope was lying at the bottom of the tube and was in no way connected with the car. The driver has to "pick up" the rope. That is, he drops an iron hook, catches the rope with it. and pulls it up into a slotted pulley in the gripper. The rope is then "ready" in the gripper. The next movement is to release the brakes, and the car moves forward, the rope passing loosely through the gripper. The final act is for the driver to close the jaws of the gripper and thus make the car fast to the rope, causing it to proceed at the same pace at which the rope is travelling. On this occasion the driver did not pick up the rope while the car was on the table. It was impossible, he asserts, for him to do so then. What he proposed to do was to pick it up after he had gone a little down the slope. He did not secure it then, however, and the car went down the hill on its brakes. The driver worked these, so passengers say, for all he was worth, but on the slippery rails — it had been raining heavily and was still drizzling — the wheel brake and slipper brake were both ineffectual to check the car, which sped down hill at a furious rate. Then McIntosh applied the emergency brake, the "dolphin," which is a wedge that can be driven into the slot, and it was equally ineffectual. Still he continued using the brakes in the hope that he might succeed in pulling the vehicle up. It was not to be, and when the foot of Rattray-strect was reached it capsized, breaking the gripper and throwing its remaining occupants out. Its remaining occupants, I say: one of the passengers had taken the risk of jumping out at the curve opposite St. Joseph's Cathedral. He paid the penalty of his rashness...  -Mt Ida Chronicle, 2/11/1900.

Dunedin, Nov 16
The inquest touching the death of King Hay, who was killed in the Roslyn tram accident, was concluded to-day. A good deal of evidence was taken, the witnesses including E. R. Usher, of the Public Works Department, who gave the result of tests made. He found that the cable could be picked up easily until 35ft below tbe transfer table (but it was explained that the tension had been increased the day before the test.) The car was pulled up with the brakes after the word "stop" was given in 25ft. He believed that it could not be so easily pulled up if heavily loaded, but Sparrow, the engineer, thought it would make little difference - that in fact it should increase the efficacy of the slot and slipper brakes. The jury returned a verdict that "we find deceased (King Hay) came to his death through No 7 car bolting, owing to its not being attached to the cable before starting. Further, we exonerate the driver from all blame, he having followed the usual practice."  -West Coast Times, 17/11/1900.

June Cameron 1929-3/6/1942.

The original Dunedin cable car line, opened in 1881, went up the hill from the bottom of Rattray St near the Crown Hotel and up through the Town Belt to the engine house at the bottom of Ross St.  It was extended to the top of the hill and then down into Kaikorai Valley.  The slope down into the Valley was always a steep one - it had originally been much steeper, running down what is now named Falcon St.

Passengers on the 4.30 p.m. cable tram from Rattray street to Kaikorai yesterday had an alarming experience when the car became partially out of control on the steep grade leading down to the Kaikorai Valley terminus. 
As the tram gained momentum on the grade a girl of 13 apparently jumped from the car and received injuries which necessitated her removal to the Hospital. There were six or seven passengers on the tram at the time. 
The manager of the City Corporation Transport, Mr W. H. Mackenzie, said last night that, although the car hit the turntable at the end of the line with considerable force, the indications were that it had been brought at least partly under control again. Nothing more could be said, however, until full inquiries had been made. The girl who was admitted to Hospital was June Cameron, whose home is in Manchester street, Roslyn. She is suffering from concussion, cuts on the head, and abrasions.  -Otago Daily Times, 2/6/1942.

June Cameron, aged 13, who was injured when the Roslyn cable tram got out of control on Monday afternoon and was taken to Hospital, was reported last night to be dangerously ill. There appears to be some doubt whether the girl actually jumped from the tram or whether she fell from the seat when the gripman regained partial control of the car.  -Otago Daily Times, 3/6/1942.

June Cameron, the 13-year-old girl who was injured on Monday when a Roslyn cable car on which she was travelling got out of control, died in the Hospital yesterday morning. An inquest was opened in the afternoon, Mr H. W. Bundle, S.M., sitting as coroner. After evidence of identification had been taken, the inquest was adjourned sine die.  -Otago Daily Times, 4/6/1942.

The adjourned inquest into the death of June Helen Ann Cameron, the 13-year-old girl who died in the Hospital oh June 3 following injuries received when a cable tram got out of control on the steep grade above the Roslyn car terminus on the afternoon of June 1, was concluded yesterday, Mr H. W. Bundle, S.M., sitting as coroner. Detective Brown represented the police, Mr J. B. Thomson appeared for tlffe relatives of the deceased, and Mr A. N. Haggitt watched proceedings on behalf of the City Corporation. 
Edwin Adolph Schlaadt, who was acting as gripman of the tram, said that about 40 yards from the steps, as the tram was about to round the first big bend, the rope commenced to run free in the gripper. He applied the wheel and slipper brakes, and then the emergency brake, but the tram had gathered so much speed that these had not much effect. At the bottom of the grade, however, the car was partially under control, although it left the track about 40 feet above the turn table at the foot of the hill. 
Cross-examined by Mr Thomson, witness could give no reason for the gripper slipping. He did not see the deceased leave the tram. 
William Godfrey Hodge said that from the rear of his home in Falcon street he saw the tram travelling down the hill at a high speed. He then noticed a cloud of dust at the rear of the car, and when it cleared away he saw the deceased lying on the footpath about 30 feet from the tram line. He did not see her fall from the car. 
Condition of Brakes Gordon Anthony Bryant, a car examiner, said that he had had no complaints from gripmen regarding the runaway tram, which had been overhauled in April last. As was daily practice, the brakes and grip were tested on the morning of the accident, and were found to be in good order. When he examined the car after it came to a standstill he found that the slipper and emergency brakes were full on. The wheel brakes were slightly off, but the jar of the sudden stop could be responsible for that. 
Evidence of an independent detailed examination of the brakes and gripper was given by Maurice Fairhurst, a plant examiner in the employ of the Public Works Department, who stated that he had found the efficiency of the brakes to be exceptionally good. 
William D. Richards, city transport engineer, explained the system in use in his department in tracing and checking faults in connection with the rolling stock. In his opinion the cause of the car getting out of control was that it was not engaged to the rope, because the pawl of the lever operating the gripper might not have been fully engaged with the teeth of the quadrant. It appeared, witness added, that when the brakes were applied the car was travelling too fast for them to be effective. 
Detective Brown said that investigations had disclosed no criminal negligence. 
A Doubt Expressed The coroner said he was satisfied that before the accident the brakes were in good order. “I am still, however, left in doubt,” he added, “why the car, after leaving the steps, attained the speed it did before the brakes were applied, and why the grip on the rope was not regained almost immediately. Whether there was too much loss of time between the original slip and the application of the brakes would appear to be a matter for a full and searching inquiry by the Public Works Department and the City Transport Department.” 
A verdict was returned that death was due to injuries received when the deceased fell or jumped from a cable car out of control on the Kaikorai Valley line on June 1.  -Otago Daily Times, 30/6/1942.

Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin. DCC photo.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

52820 Sergeant Edward Moritz Theomin, 29/1/1885-17/11/1928.

Edward Moritz Theomin was the only son of David Theomin, known these days in Dunedin as the rich merchant whose house, Olveston, was donated by his surviving daughter Dorothy to the people of Dunedin after her death in 1966.

I am grateful to the staff of "Olveston" for some information on his life, as well as the images I have used with their kind permission.

Edward was educated at Otago Boys' High School and, befitting the heir to his father's business, he began work in David Theomin's warehouse in 1901. 

Edward Moritz Theomin. Photo courtesy of Olveston.

Edward volunteered for the army in January, 1917, at the relatively  mature age of 31.  At the time he was manager and buyer for the Glendermid Tannery, in which his father had an interest.  The tannery was regarded as an essential war industry and Edward was exempt from the draft.

Edward must have shown some aptitude for soldiering - his record shows that he was promoted to Sergeant in September on 1917 and that he passed the examination for a Commission that December.

His rank reverted to Corporal on arriving in Britain - presumably it was Sergeant on embarkation (and the same thing happened to my father - he was a Sergeant at Burnham during WWII but reverted to a lower rank on account of the difference in experience between new arrivals and those who had seen action). He was confirmed in the rank of Corporal before crossing the Channel to France in February, 1918.

On arrival in France he contracted bronchitis and, on recovery, was transferred to the Entrenching Battalion - a second-line unit - with which he stayed for only a couple of months before being evacuated with bronchitis. On recovery he was posted to the UK and, at the end of 1918, was demobilised for a period of three months, after which he was discharged as medically unfit due to chronic nasal catarrh in February of 1919.

He met his future wife, Ethel Grace Mocatta, in London at the end of the war and brought her to New Zealand to be married.

Edward Mortiz Theomin.
Sergeant Edward Theomin. Photo courtesy of Olveston.


Mr Edward Theomin, son of Mr D. E. Theomin, managing director of the Bristol Piano Company, was married in Dunedin yesterday. At the invitation of the managing director, the staff of the Christchurch branch of the Bristol Piano Company gathered at their depot yesterday afternoon, and, under the direction of the local manager (Mr R. A. Home), spent a pleasant half-hour toasting the health and happiness of the young couple. Mr Edward Theomin quite recently returned from the front after two years' service with the New Zealand Forces as sergeant. He saw the war through. He met his bride in England, and she came out here to be married. In proposing the toast of the bride and bridegroom, Mr Home made eulogistic reference to the services rendered the country by the bridegroom, and said that after hazarding many dangers for the Empire, he had met the happy fate of all men, or most, and brought his bride to New Zealand. Mr Edward Theomin, according to Mr Horne, was "a chip of the old block" and it was to such men as these that New Zealand owed its progress — more could not be said. The toast was drunk with musical honours, and an enjoyable half-hour was spent by the staff in honouring the son of its worthy managing director.  -Press, 21/5/1919.

Mr and Mrs Theomin, of Dunedin, arrived from England by the Moana on Saturday. Mr Theomin has been on active service.  -Auckland Star, 9/7/1919.

The Olveston website states that Edward contracted encephalitis lethargica - a mysterious disease which has occasionally swept through (at least) the western world in recorded history.  It is also known as Sleeping Sickness. Its last pandemic appearance coincided with, and was possibly linked to, the spanish flu pandemic of 1919.  It is the disease which caused the parkinsonism-like symptoms described by Dr Oliver Sacks in his book "Awakenings." Dr Sacks was played by Robin Williams in the movie of the same name.

Edward was diagnosed in 1922 and died six years later.  The progress of the disease would have been slow, tragic and inevitable.

Edward is difficult to track through "Papers Past" due to his first name being the same as his father's middle name.  His last verifiable action, according to the newspapers, is in May 1924, at a meeting of local business people, which has him stating his position as a manager of Glendermid tannery re trade with the then Durch East Indies (now Indonesia.)

In March of 1926, Edward advertised for a chauffeur who could also do some gardening - it is possible that he was no longer able to drive for himself.

The last reference to him in society that I have been able to find, until his death, is dated to the end of November, 1927 - a year before his death.  He and his wife are reported as aboard the "Marama" bound for Sydney.

His death would have been a heavy blow for the rest of the family, which had lost his mother, Marie, just a couple of years before.


Reference to the death of Mr Edward Theomin was made by the president of the Chamber of Commerce (Mr Rosevear) at a meeting of the council of that body last night. The speaker stated that a letter of sympathy had been sent to Mr D. E. Theomin. Those present stood in silence for a few moments out of respect for the memory of the deceased.   -Otago Daily Times, 20/11/1928.

Edward and Ethel had no children. With the death of Edward's father, David, in 1933 the house and business were inherited by Dorothy who never married.

Probate was granted yesterday of the will of Mr Edward Theomin, of this city. After making various bequests and provision for the testator’s wife, who has a life interest in the estate, the will provides that the whole estate shall be vested in the Perpetual Trustees, Estate, and Agency Company for the formation of a Theomin Trust, the proceeds of which shall be applied to charitable and educational purposes.  -Otago Daily Times, 28/11/1928.

The Theomin Trust was added to by David in his will and operates still.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.