Sunday, 1 August 2021

13845 Lieutenant Eric Claude Spedding, 3/12/1895-7/10/1916.

Lieutenant Eric Claude Spedding, of whose death from wounds advice was received on Saturday, was the youngest son of the late Mr D. M. Spedding, and was a member of the staff of the Bank of New Zealand in Dunedin when he was called up for active service. He might reasonably have withheld the offer of his services at the time he made it, for not long before he had undergone a serious operation; but he was eager to get away to the front and, as he left New Zealand with the Fourteenth Reinforcements, he must have been sent there very shortly after his arrival in England. He was educated at the Arthur Street School and at the Otago Boys' High School, and he took a leading place, in the athletic life of the latter institution, being a member of the first fifteen and, of the first eleven, of which latter he was captain in 1914, and being also the athletic champion of the school in 1914. After leaving school he joined the Carisbrook Cricket Club, and played for the junior representatives against Southland.   -Otago Daily Tmes, 16/10/1916.

Auckland Weekly News, 1916.

Eric Spedding was with the 4th Company, 2nd Battalion, of the Otago Infantry Regiment when it attacked German positions on October 1st in the Battle of the Somme.  The Regiemnt's Official History describes the attack and its consequence: "As the last Otago company went forward two companies of Wellington Battalion moved up Goose Alley and then forward in two waves in rear of and in support to Otago. Advancing to the crest of the ridge after changing direction, 4th and 8th Companies were seriously depleted in strength under the blasts of machine gun fire which swept their ranks. Every officer was a casualty, and non-commissioned officers and men were heavily hit. But with unfailing determination they pressed on, successfully reaching their objective and passing some distance beyond it."

Etaples Military Cemetery, France.

Eric Spedding was wounded with multiple gunshot wounds on October 1st, 1916, presumably one of those hit by "blasts of machine gune fire."  It took him six long days to die from the septicemia produced by those wounds.  It would have seemed an eternity to the young Dunedin bank clerk.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.

Hester Hall Culling, 1845-9/12/1863


On the 11th ult., at North Taieri, the wife of Mr Joseph Culling, of a daughter.


On the 9th inst., at North Taieri, Hester Hall, the beloved wife of Joseph Culling. Friends will please accept this invitation.  -Otago Daily Times, 10/12/1863.

Such a small scrap in a newspaper, and such a volume of love and mourning behind it.

Hester married her husband Joseph in 1862 and died one month after the birth of their child, who was called Hester Hall, after her mother.  It is not difficult to assume that Hester senior died from complications following the birth of her daughter.  She was eighteen years old.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.

William Arthur Pitts, 1905-11/6/1946.

I approach this story with some caution.  The William Arthur Pitts buried in Dunedin may not be the one who left a tail or two of dud cheques around New Zealand and, it seems, also Australia.  But Nwe zealand is not a big country - and a smaller one then - and the odds against there being two men with the same name and born around the same year are large.  If I have got it wrong I would be grateful for further information and happy to apologise.





After an absence of five years in Australia, William Arthur Pitts returned to Christchurch five weeks ago and surrendered himself to the police to answer charges of obtaining money by false pretences in November, 1929. The total amount was £36 19s 7., and accused admitted the two charges before Mr. E. D. Mosley, S.M., in the Magistrate's Court last Tuesday. He said he wished to get the charges cleared up so that he could make a fresh start.

Pitts, whose age is 31 and who is described as a labourer, admitted charges of obtaining in November, 1929, at Kirwee, about £ls from Edward Alfred Gillman by means of a valueless cheque and of obtaining petrol valued at 10s 5d and £2l 19s 7d in money from Samuel Stephens by presenting a valueless cheque. Chief-Detective W. H. Dunlop stated that accused had returned from Australia and volunteered information about himself and the charges against him.

Edward Alfred Gillman, licensee of the Kirwee Hotel, said that accused had called at his hotel on November 6, 1929, and said that his name was James and that he was travelling for the Ceylon Tea Company, Dunedin. He had a drink or two, and then witness cashed his cheque, which was returned marked "no account" from the bank. Witness had not seen accused since.

Samuel Stephens, a storekeeper at Waddington, said that accused .called on him and represented that he was travelling for the Ceylon Tea Company, Dunedin. Witness supplied him with five gallons of petrol, for which he cashed a cheque for £22 10s, taking 10s 5d for the petrol. The cheque was returned marked "no account" from the bank.

Constable C. D. Burns said that on December 29 last accused surrendered himself to the police to answer charges of issuing valueless cheques. He had arrived back in New Zealand from Australia that morning. He had left for Australia two days after committing the offences. In his statement accused described and admitted the offences. At the time they were committed he was a salesman and was unemployed. Accused had one previous conviction for false pretences. Apparently he had had "a pretty hectic time" in Australia. 

Accused pleaded guilty to both charges and was committed to the Supreme Court for sentence. Bail was allowed.  -NZ Herald, 1/2/1935.


Divorce Proceedings


Mary Phyllis Columbia Pitts petitioned for a divorce from William Arthur Pitts on the ground of desertion. 

Mr M. Hanan appeared for the petitioner, and Mr B. S. Irwin for the respondent on the question of custody of the children. 

The petitioner said that she was married in Dunedin, in 1924. There were four children of the marriage, but one had died. In 1929 the respondent had gone to Invercargill and had later sent her a telegram to meet him at the Dunedin railway station as he was going through to Christchurch. He told her he would have a home for her in about two weeks' time. She then lost track of her husband for some considerable time, but found subsequently that he had gone to Australia. In 1931 she had applied for a maintenance order against her husband, and an order had been made in her favour for £2 per week. She had received nothing from her husband prior to the issue of the maintenance order. All that she had received under the order was 25s. Her husband had returned to New Zealand somewhere about the first week in January of this year.

Corroborative evidence was given, and his Honor granted a decree nisi, to be moved absolute after the expiration of three months. The petitioner was given the custody of the youngest child.

Mr Irwin said that the two boys were living with the respondent's mother, and were being well looked after.  -Otago Daily Times, 16/5/35.


WEDNESDAY, JULY 28. (Before Mr J. R. Bartholomew, S.M.) 


William Arthur Pitts alias Robert William Malcolm, was charged that, on May 28, at Hamilton, with intent to defraud, he obtained from Albert George Carter the sum of £2 10s 6d in money by the issue of a valueless cheque for £3 10s, drawn on the National Bank of New Zealand, Auckland, and similarly that he obtained from Nelson Culpan at Auckland the sum of £3 10s in money by the issue of a valueless cheque drawn on the Bank of New South Wales, Auckland. Mr V. Murdoch appeared for the accused, who pleaded not guilty. Detective-sergeant Hall asked for a remand till Wednesday next, His Worship granting the application. Mr Murdoch’s application for suppression of the name until the facts were gone into was refused, but bail was allowed in the accused’s own recognisance of £50 and one surety of £50 on the first charge, and on his own recognisance on the second charge.    -Evening Star, 28/7/1937.



(By Telegraph—Press Association.)

DUNEDIN, This Day.

Three months' imprisonment with hard labour was the sentence imposed on William Arthur Pitts, alias Robert William Malcolm, aged 32, in the Magistrate's Court for issuing valueless cheques at Auckland and Hamilton. The accused, who was a motor salesman at Auckland, cashed two cheques with the licensees of hotels at Auckland and Hamilton in May, later coming south. The police stated that he was a bird of passage with a formidable list of convictions in New Zealand and Australia. He was only released from prison in March, it was stated.  -Evening Post, 4/8/1937.




(By Telegraph.—Press Association) AUCKLAND, Tuesday. Starting in Little River, Canterbury on March 28, William Arthur Pitts (32), salesman, travelled north, leaving a trail of valueless cheques at Prebbleton, Christchurch, Wellington and New Plymouth. In the Police Court to-day he pleaded guilty to obtaining goods and £23 in money by means of five non-negotiable cheques. 

“The best I can say of this man is that he is a real parasite who has lived by his wits and who takes people down by fraud,” said Detective-Sergeant McHugh. “He was first known to the police in 1927 and later he left for Australia, where he was convicted. Since his return to New Zealand he has been convicted nine times for false pretences and once for theft. He has been leniently treated but apparently has not tried to redeem himself.” 

"You cannot be allowed to go aboul the country carrying on this business,” said Mr C. R. Orr Walker. S.M., convicting Pitts on all charges and ordering reformative detention not exceeding 18 months.  -Waikato Times, 1/6/1938.

William Pitts' occupation was recorded as a brewery hand when he enlisted in the army during the Second World War.  He served in the Army Service Corps.  Available records show that he was killed in action, which seems strange srring that he died in 1946.


PITTS — On June 11, 1946, at Dunedin, 3707 Sergeant William Arthur Pitts (2nd N.Z.E.F.), dearly-beloved husband of Isabel Annie Pitts, Dame street, Waikouaiti. — The Funeral will leave our Chapel, 78 St. Andrew street, on Wednesday, the 12th inst., at the conclusion of the service commencing at 2 p.m., for the Southern Cemetery. — Hope and Kinaston, funeral directors.  -Evening Star, 11/6/1946.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.

6/1396 Private Charles Edward Scott 8/12/1890-25/4/1915

Charles Scott may have died on Anzac Day.  Again, he may not have.  His death was only made official after a Court of Enquiry held when the campaign had ended and the Army had become settled enough to begin to enquire after those men posted as missing and not found alive, dead or reported prisoners. The uncertainty around Charles' death is reflected in the discrepancy between his death notice in newspapers and the date on the family gravestone.

Biographical Sketches

Private Charles Edward Scott, 2nd (South Canterbury) Regiment (reported missing), is 25 years of age, and is the fourth son of Mr T. W. Scott, Broughton street, Kensington. He was born in Dunedin, and was educated at the Forbury School. He was a cabinet maker by trade, having served his time with Mr H. M. McLauchlan. Latterly he shifted to Winchester, where he joined the Second Reinforcements. He has another brother (Mr T. W. Scott, of Wellington) in the artillery section at the front.  -Otago Witness, 23/6/1915.



SCOTT. — On 26th April, 1915, killed in action at the Dardanelles, Private Charles Edward Scott, 2nd South Canterbury Regiment, fourth beloved son of Mr and Mrs T. W. Scott, 6 Broughton street. Kensington, in. his 26th year. Deeply mourned. He did his duty. -Evening Star, 26/1/1916.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

Henry Granger Wootton, 1875-20/11.1897.


A young man, Henry G. Wootton, who was on a visit from South Dunedin, in attempting to mount a horse in Christchurch on the 20th ult., was thrown on his head, and died from the effects on Thursday.   -Otago Daily Times, 21/11/1897.

Henry George Wootton, twenty-two years of ago, a baker, residing with his brother, Mr Samuel Wootton, of Middle Lincoln Road, died yesterday morning as the result of a fall from a horse. The deceased, on Monday, was mounting a horse when the animal backed and tripped, and Wootton fell off on his head. He was picked up unconscious, and remained so until his death. The deceased was attended by Dr Nedwill, and yesterday morning Dr Moorhouse was also called in.   -Lyttelton Times, 25/11/1897.

Accidents and Fatalities

An inquest was held yesterday morning by Mr E. Beetham, coroner, and a jury, of whom Mr James Stewart was chosen foreman, touching the death of Henry George Wootton. After hearing the evidence, the jury returned a verdict of “Death from fracture of the base of the skull, the result of an accident.”  -Lyttelton Times, 26/11/1897.


THE Friends of Mr and Mrs S. Wootton (and family) are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of their late son Henry Granger, which will leave their residence, Main road, South Dunedin, TO-MORROW (Sunday), November 28, at 2 o’clock, for the Southern Cemetery. 

COLE AND SPRINGER, Undertakers, 152 George street.   -Evening Star, 27/11/1897.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.

23573 Private John "Jack" Langley, 5/2/1894-17/8/1917.

Jack Langley was a storeman for the Kaitangata Coal Co. when he joined the Otago Infantry Regiment in July of 1916.  A year later he was in France and was on active service there for all of two months and two days until the following occured, as noted on his Army Record:

"Langley was a runner and on 17/8/17 his Batt. was in Regina Camp Billets, Romain, near Messines and while on parade some enemy shells came over and Langley was hit and died as he was being carried  to the dressing station at about 10am.  With regard to the details I am unable to make any statement but I think Private E C Smith 1st Batt. O.I.R. 10 coy. would be able to give information on that point."

Pvte. Jack Langley, (Musselburgh) killed. -Otago Witness, 7/1/1917.


Private Jack Langley (killed in action in France) was the youngest son of the late Mr David Langley (crockery merchant). He left New Zealand with the 10th Reinforcements. He was born in Dunedin, and was educated at the Normal and High Street Schools. He was a member of the Coast Defence and the Southern Association Football Club. His eldest brother, Herbert, left here with the main body and was reported missing at the landing at the Dardanelles.  -Evening Star, 29/10/1917.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.

Friday, 30 July 2021

4/524 Corporal David Kerr Haig, 15/8/1893-27/7/1915.

David Kerr Haig joined up as soon as war was declared in 1914.  With previous experience as a Signaller, he would have been a welcome addition to the force.  He landed on Gallipoli on Anzac Day, April 25, and was in the front line until he contracted typhoid fever three months later. He was admitted to the field hospital at Anzac Cove on July 25 and transferred to the Hospital Ship Somali two days later.  It was there that he died and from there was buried at sea.



 HAIG: On July 27th (at sea, of enteric fever) David Kerr, sixth son of Jane and the late James Haig, of Mornington: aged 22 years. “Pro Christo et Patria.”   -Evening Star, 14/8/1915.


MORNINGTON Presbyterian Church. Rev. W. SCORGEE. 

11 a.m., ‘The Divine Order’; 6.30 p.m., ‘The Labor and Lot of Life.’ 

In Memoriam Service Corporal David Kerr Haig.   -Evening Star, 14/8/1915.


Personal Stories

CORPORAL D. K. HAIG. Corporal David Kerr Haig (New Zealand Field Engineers, died of enteric), was born at Wanganui, but his parents went to Dunedin when he was a boy, and he received his education at the Mornington Public School. He alterwards entered the employ of Messrs Wright, Stephenson and Co., and when the Signal Corps was raised he left at a moment's notice to join the camp at Palmerston North, sailing with the Main Body as a lance-corporal. Although a keen all-round sport, being a member of both the Mornington Football and Cricket Clubs, it was as a soccer player that he is remembered best. He was a good singer, and was a prominent member of the Mornington Presbyterian Church choir. Mrs Haig has two other sons on active service.  -Press, 16/8/1915.



 — Christian Brothers v. Southern. The above teams played at the Gardens, but the game was not very attractive. Christian Brothers won by 2 goals to 1. 

 — Mornington v. Ravensbourne The game was late in starting owing to Ravensbourne finding it difficult to raise a team. The Mornington men wore a white band, out of respect to the memory of the late David Haig. Mornington were too good for their opponents, and won by 7 goals to nil.   -Evening Star, 16/8/1915.

Association footballers and others will learn with genuine regret of the death at sea of Corporal David Kerr Haig, of the New Zealand Field Engineers. Corporal Haig was educated at the Mornington Public School, and afterwards entered the employ of Messrs Wright. Stephenson, and Co. He was a keen cricketer, and will be remembered as a member of the Mornington Association team during the days of its success. Corporal Haig was the sixth son of the late Mr J. Haig. Only a few days ago his people received a cheery letter from him stating that he had been having a month in the trenches, and was in good health. Unfortunately he contracted enteric, and had to be buried at sea three days before the hospital ship reached the base. Mrs Haig has two other sons on active service — Will (who is now serving with the British section of the Army Service Corps) and Fred (who is on the hospital ship Maheno). Corporal Haig landed at Gallipoli on April 25, being on board the second pontoon that reached the shore. He was in the trenches up till the time he contracted enteric. He was a member of the Forresters’ Lodge, and held office in Court Excelsior at the time of his departure. He was also a prominent member of the Mornington Presbyterian Church, where a memorial service was conducted last evening. 

A large number of troopers who received their final leave from camp somewhat earlier than they had expected were about Dunedin during the latter part of last week. The great majority of them returned northward on Saturday. At the departure of the second north express the platform was crowded with friends and relatives taking their last opportunity of wishing “Godspeed” to the boys who are so soon to leave for the fighting line.   -Otago Witness, 18/8/1915.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.

The monthly meeting of the Mornington School Committee was held last night, Mr R. Bentham in the chair. The headmaster's report was as follows: — Attendance for past four weeks, 509, 509, 512, and 512. Votes of sympathy were passed to Mrs Waite and family and Mrs Haig and family at the loss of their sons (Lieutenant Geo. Waite and Corporal David Kerr Haig). It was resolved to hold the spring holidays from the 6th to the 13th of September.   -Evening Star, 24/8/1915.



While the sports clubs of the Dominion have all given to the Empire in the present war notable contributions of splendid manhood, it is probable that Mornington Association Football Club stands alone for its gift of seven members of one family to the army. The circumstance was referred to on Wednesday evening by the chairman of the Otago Football Association executive (Mr W. H. Sinclair), when referring to the fact that one of the vice-presidents, Mr Jas. Haig — a valued member of the O.F.A. executive for many years — had been passed A and would shortly leave for Trentham with another brother, Mr John Haig, who had also fulfilled the requirements of the Defence Department. It spoke volumes for the loyalty of the Haig family, and was a record the Mornington Club and district might well be proud of, the speaker said, that it should be represented at the front by seven fine young athletes of one family. The name Haig had made history in the present war, and it was a name that would be honoured in the Mornington district, and especially by the Mornington Club for all time. The Otago Football Association was proud of such a family. When asked whether in view of five of the family having already served there would be an appeal, Mr Haig had promptly responded “Not in your life!' The record of the family is as follows: David Haig, left with the Main Body, served on Gallipoli, died of enteric; William Haig, left with Main Body, served on Gailopli, and in France, recently invalided home; Fred Haig, left with hospital ship Mahcno on first trip, contracted enteric and pneumonia, now discharged; Andred Haig, left with 25th Reinforcements, now serving in France; Walter Haig, left with 27th Reinforcements, now serving in France; James Haig and John Haig to leave with later reinforcements. The club record of these men has been exceptionally good. All have been players. William was captain of Mornington B Seniors, Fred recently captained an Otago team in a match against a reinforcement team in Dunedin, Andrew and Walter in turn captained the Second Grade eleven, John at one time was captain of Penrose’s Wednesday Club aud a Wednesday representative, and James has represented Otago.  -Wanganui Herald, 16/5/1918.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

8/1621 Private John Mowbray Rogers, 1/1/1879-5/5/1918.


John Mowbray Rogers was working as a groom in Dunedin when he joined the Army at the end of 1914.  He was wounded at Gallipoli on August 13th, 1915, a period of the battel which saw many casualties in the Otago Regiment.

His wound was caused either by a bullet or shell fragment in the abdomen - a serious one in those days.  He was eventually discharged in April 1916, and sent home as unfit for military service though able to work in civilian life.  

The medical board assessing him before discharge recorded him as suffering from "neurasthenia" - an ill-defined term used to describe many cases which might these days be referred to as shell-shock or PTSD.


The body of John Mowbray Rogers was found in the harbor near the Kitchener street wharf yesterday afternoon. The deceased, a returned soldier, was missed from his home in Hanover street on May 10. The body was very much decomposed, but was recognised by tattoo marks upon it and by the clothing. Mr H. A. Young, S.M. (coroner), held an inquest on the body at the morgue this morning. 

Matilda Rogers, mother of deceased, said that her son was 39 years of age, and single. He was wounded, and returned from active service about two years ago. He underwent a severe operation at the Hospital after his return from Gallipoli. He could not sleep at night because of pains in his head. He left home about 6 o’clock on the morning of the 10th of last month, saying that he was going to Mosgeil. He was a strong, healthy lad before he went to the war. 

John William Curline said that deceased was very excitable. He came into witness’s room on the morning of the 10th. He said he could not sleep, and imagined he heard noises. He was always complaining of pains in his head. He was wounded in the stomach by a shell, and was operated on at the Dunedin Hospital, where he was a patient for about six weeks. Witness was satisfied that deceased was not in his right mind on the morning of his disappearance. He was quite normal before he went to the front. 

William G. Summer gave evidence as to finding deceased’s coat and hat on the Kitchener street wharf. 

Constable Pearce said that the body was found yesterday afternoon near a boat shed close to Hogg and Co.’s premises. It was fully dressed, with the exception of coat and hat. He searched the body, but found nothing in the pockets. 

The Coroner returned the verdict “That deceased committed suicide by drowning when of unsound mind, due to war experiences.”  -Evening Star, 6/6/1918.

John Mowbray Rogers, a returned soldier, was buried with military honors at the Southern Cemetery this afternoon, the procession starting from the Drill Hall at 3 o’clock. Lieutenant Shand represented headquarters. The firing party consisted of home service men of the R.N.Z.A. The Rev. Vincent King read the service. Rogers fought with the Third Reinforcements.   -Evening Star, 7/6/1918.

At an inquest on the body of John Mowbray Rogers, found in Dunedin harbor, it was shown that Rogers fought in Gaillipoli, and returned to the Dominion wounded two years ago. He underwent a severe operation at the Dunedin Hospital, as he could not sleep, owing to the noise in his ears. He was very excitable, and complained constantly of pain in his side and head. At Gallipoli a piece of shell struck him in the giroin. The coroner found that Rogers committed suicide while of unsound mind, the result of his war experiences.  -Poverty Bay Herald, 10/6/1918.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  NZ War Graves Project photo.

William Millar, 1867(?)-28/8/1907.



The Dunedin Gaol was the scene of a distressing tragedy to-day, when a man named William Millar, aged forty, a recent arrival from Scotland, who was arrested last night on a charge of being drunk and incapable, hanged himself with the leather belt he had been wearing. Millar was brought before the magistrate. Mr C. C. Graham, this morning at 10.30, and was remanded for a week for medical treatment, his condition being such as to make it evident that he had been drinking heavily for some time. At twelve o'clock Millar received his dinner in his cell at the prison, and ate the greater part of it. At one o'clock Warder O'Reilly looked into the cell, and found Millar suspended by the neck from a small hook in the wall, about five feet from the ground. The man, who was considerably over five feet high, had fastened himself to the hook by his belt, and deliberately strangled himself. 

Apparently the cause of the suicide was the acute depression produced by over-drinking.  It is known that Millar had no financial difficulties. So far as is known the man has no friends or relatives in Dunedin.  -Evening Star, 28/8/1907.



A man named William Millar, about 40 years of age, hanged himself in a cell at the Dunedin Gaol at midday on August 28. Millar was arrested on Tuesday night on a charge of drunkenness, and was brought before Mr C. C. Graham, S.M., at the Police Court on Wednesday morning, and was remanded for a week for medical treatment. At 12 o'clock Millar received his dinner in his cell, and at 1 o'clock Warder O'Reilly, on looking into the cell, found the unfortunate man suspended by the neck from a small hook in the wall about 5ft high, to which he had fastened ths leather belt he was wearing. Life was quite extinct, and the suicide was evidently of a most deliberate nature. 

On Tuesday, 27th about 8.30 p.m., Millar called into the Salvation Array Barrack in Dowling street. He appeared to be very much excited, and, sneaking to an officer of the Army, told him he thought he was going to be smothered that night by two medical men owing to his being a public nuisance. Constable Lopdell's attention was drawn to the man's peculiar behaviour, and after questioning him he came to the conclusion that his condition was serious, and decided to take him to the Police Station and have him locked up. Dr Watt was called in some little time after and prescribed a sleeping draught, after which the deceased spent a fairly good night in the lock-up. There was nothing in his demeanour to indicate that he intended to commit suicide. He was, however, suffering from a delusion, as already stated, that he was going to be suffocated. 

The deceased came out to the colony from Paisley about three months ago, and appears to have brought some money with him, and to have since his arrival been getting through it pretty rapidly and to have been drinking to excess. In charging the jury at the inquest, the Coroner said there was no doubt the cause of death was hanging, and evidence showed the man was in an incipient stage of delirium tremens, and not responsible for his actions.

A verdict of suicide while temporally insane was returned, and the followiug rider was added: — "That the jury desires to call the attention of the proper authorities to the necessity of having regular wards for such cases elsewhere than in prisons or police stations, and that observation wards be arranged for in connection with the same."  -Otago Daily Times, 16/9/1907.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.

Friday, 23 July 2021

Robert Stuart Reid, 1887-4/6/1911.

Special Telegraphic

Robert Stuart Reid, employed at the corporation transformation station, Half-way Bush, went to work about ten o’clock and ten minutes later was found lying dead on the floor. Presumably he was electrocuted. He was 22 years of age, and leaves a widow and one child.  -Cromwell Argus, 5/6/1911.



Mr C. E. Graham held an inquiry at the Morgue yesterday touching the death of Robert Stuart Reid, engineer at the Waikari transformer station, on Sunday morning last. The proceedings were watched by Mr W. C. MacGregor on behalf of the City Corporation, and by Mr Hawkins on behalf of the family of the deceased. Station-sergeant King conducted the official proceedings.

Dr Eugene O'Neil deposed that he saw the body of the deceased at the sub-station at Halfway Bush on Sunday morning. The little finger of the left hand was charred in two places, and there was a small abrasion behind the right ear. On the clothes was some vomited matter. The post-mortem examination made by him on Monday showed the organs to be healthy, the windpipe and the bronchia were filled with liquid vomit that had evidently been taken into the air passages. Shock produced by contact with a live wire had no doubt caused the vomiting, and the deceased, being in an unconscious condition, the vomited matter would be drawn into the air passages. These conditions would occur very rapidly, and death would practically be instantaneous from asphyxia. 

Ellen Ruth Reid, widow of deceased, deposed that her husband was engineer in charge of the transformation station at Half-way Bush. He was 24 years of age. On Sunday morning he went to his duties at 7 o'clock, in his usual state of good health. He said he was going to put up some new globes, as the others were burnt out. About a quarter past 10 witness heard a noise, to which she paid no attention at the time, but about 10.25 went to the station to see what deceased was doing. She found him in the corner of the room near the door, at the back of tha switchboards, lying on his back. Witness lifted his head, but there was no sound of breathing, though the body was warm. Deceased had been vomiting. Witness went for Mr and Miss Bunting who came to assist, and the doctor was telephoned for. Mr Moir, Mr Anderson. Mr Pratt, and some others also came to assist, and tried unsuccessfully to produce respiration, until Dr O'Neil came. The steps used by deceased were near the spot where he was lying, and were necessary for changing the globes. 

To Station-sergeant, King: Deceased had been engineer at Halfway Bush for two years to the very day of the accident, and for three months before was there as assistant. Deceased knew there was danger in fixing the globes. The power was cut off from Waipori to Ashburn Hall every Sunday morning.

To Mr Hawkins: The steps used by deceased were old and rickety, and covered with oil. They were supplied by the corporation. Deceased was a very careful man. 

Edgar E. Stark, electrical engineer to the City Corporation, said he knew the deceases well. He was a most reliable and capable man, and had been employed by the department since Noycs Bros.' time. He had been employed at the Waipori power-house, at the converter station, and at the Waikari substation. Witness arrived at the scene of the accident after the arrival of Drs O'Ncil and Marshall Macdonald, and brought out Dr Fulton. Witness examined deceased, and noticed the burns on the hands, and on his boots. He saw a lamp resting on a beam at the back of the switchboard. The flexible cord supporting the lamp had been disconnected from the lampholder. On the door was a knife. A plank had been recently put across the iron girders at the back of the switchboard, about 6 1/2ft above the floor, for standing on. A choke coil supported by an insulator, on the wall about 5ft from the lamp coil was twisted out of position. A wire leading to this coil was also bent. The latter would be bent by deceased's fall. Isolating switches were located above the coil. The distance between the burns on the hand of deceased would indicate that he had come in contact with a rectangular shaped conductor. These switches were carrying current on Sunday. The burns on deceased's boot would indicate that he was in contact with the iron girder or was standing on the iron girder at the time of touching the live part of the circuit. Witness's theory as to the accident was that the deceased lost his balance on the plank and touched the iron girder, or was stepping to the girder when he lost his balance and grabbed one of the switches, or parts in communication with them, causing shock, and fell to the floor. The ladder was very heavy, but not rickety, and was covered with splashes of oil. It was not dangerous in use.

To Mr MacGregor: The steps were for use when required. The accident could not have happened had the man been on the steps. Witness had had experince of accidents by death from electric shock, both here and in America. The burns themselves were not enough to cause death. He agreed with the medical evidence that death resulted from asphyxia caused by vomiting. 

To Station-sergeant King: The power received from the converter station in Cumberland street at that time of the day on Sundays was about 1750 volts, and would not be sufficient of itself to be fatal, if deceased fell away from the wire, as he evidently did.

Mr MacGregor: It was, then, in your opinion, a pure misadventure that led to the death of deceased?

Mr Stark: Yes, a pure misadventure. 

The Coroner said the evidence showed that deceased came by his death in an accidental manner, and that no one was to blame. The evidence of Dr O'Neil showed that death was actually caused by asphixia, resulting from shock caused by coming in contact with a live wire when the deceased was in the discharge of his duties.  -Otago Daily Times, 6/6/1911.


The MEMBERS of the above Club are requested to ATTEND the FUNERAL of their late clubmate ROBERT STUART REID, which will leave his Father's Residcnoe, 7 Queen's drive, Musselburgh, THIS DAY (TUESDAY), June 6, at 2.30 p..m., for the Southern Cemetery. — O. J. AITKEN, Hon. Sec.  -Otago Daily Times, 6/6/1911.

Southern cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.

Frances Hilda Fisher, 1876-15/8/1895.


Fisher. — On the 15th August, 1895. Frances Hilda, daughter of T. R. Fisher, of St. Clair; aged 19 years. — Funeral will leave the house at 2.30 p.m. on Saturday, 17th, for the Southern Cemetery.  -Evening Star, 16/8/1895.

Around Dunedin

A very sad occurrence happened yesterday, when Miss Frances Hilda Fisher, aged 19 years, daughter of Mr Fisher, Inspector and Director of the Standard Insurance Company, was accidentally killed. It appears a small party of young ladies accompanied Miss Fisher and her brother on a ferning expedition in the Woodhaugh Valley, on the road to the reservoir, when a huge boulder came bounding down the precipitous bank on the side of the road. Before the boulder reached them it broke in two, the larger half striking Miss Fisher and knocking her down, the ribs in the region of the heart being crushed in, death being instantaneous. The merry young party were panicstricken, and to make matters worse, they were a considerable distance from any house from whence to obtain help. Quite a gloom has been cast over the district that such a bright young life should have met with such a sudden and awful death, and unfortunately Mr Fisher, her father, is away in Melbourne.   -Wairarapa Daily Times, 20/8/1895.


An inquest was held at St. Clair on Friday afternoon before Mr Coroner Carew on the body of Frances Hilda Fisher, who was killed at Woodhaugh on Thursday. Harold Hill Fisher said that his sister was born at Nelson, and was nineteen years of age. Between half-past two and three o'clock on Thursday afternoon he, the Misses Royse, deceased, and some others left to go fern-hunting up the Reservoir road. A collie dog was with them. They had crossed the creek above an old quary, and were walking up the side of a hill when witness heard a noise, and at the same moment saw a large stone rolling and pitching down the hill. The rest of the party called out "Get out of the road." Before the boulder reached them it broke in two, the larger part striking his sister on the chest and knocking her down. When picked up she was dead. Witness could not account for the stone becoming detached from the side of the hill. There were cattle in the bush, and they might have moved the stone, but he was satisfied that there was no person about the place where the stone started from. Kate Royse, who was one of the party, said she was pulling a fern when she heard the noise of the descending stone. Dr Macpherson stated that he and Mr Arthur Fisher were driving along George street to the scene of the accident, when they met a trap conveying the body. Witness made a cursory examination at the hospital, and afterwards saw the body at Mr Fisher's house. The ribs over the region of the heart were broken in, and that was sufficient to account for death. The jury returned a verdict to the effect that deceased was accidentally killed. [Miss Fisher was a niece of Mr and Mrs J, B. Green of Blenheim.]  -Marlborough Express, 21/8/1895.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.