Tuesday, 23 February 2021

24/1629 Private Percy Creely, 9/11/1887-26/10/1919.

 Percy Creely was a bushman, working in  the Gisborne area, when he enlisted in the Rifle Brigade of the New Zealand Army in October, 1915.  He was transferred to the Wellington Infantry Regiment in March, 1916, leaving Egypt with them for France.  

It was not long after arriving in France that Percy received the wound which would eventually claim his life.  He suffered a bullet wound to his head - possibly from a sniper - and was immediately evacuated, being reported as "dangerously ill" in hospital in England.  By October of 1916 he was well enough to be repatriated in the Hospital Ship "Maheno."

It is possible that Percy's wound was the result of an artillery shell - his Battalion was out of the front line at the time -  whatever the cause it was devastating.

Details of Percy's time when he returned to New Zealand can be found in a letter written to the Otago Daily Times by Brigadier-general McGavin, Directer-general of NZ Medical Services shortly after Percy's death:

"With reference to the case of Creely: on March 30, 1917 the late Colonel T. Hope Lewis recommended this man's treatment at Karitane. Dr Herbert sent this man to Karitane (as appears in a letter to the medical superintendent) in order that he should be controlled in a manner impossible at Rotorua. Creely was admitted to Seacliff on March 24, 1917, was formally committed on October 3, 1917, and died on October 28, 1919. He was suffering from traumatic epilepsy, the result of extensive wounds of the head, and died in Seacliff of his brain injuries."

Much to unpack, as they say, from the above, which was written to counter allegations of soldiers being interned at Seacliff without due process by the military authorities.  His military record has him at Seacliff Hospital, and "dangerously ill," in June, 1917.  It was at Seacliff that he was "found dead," the cause described as "Jacksonion epilepsy," which apparently refers to a localised rather than a generalised epileptic seizure.  Whatever the ongoing effects before his death, it would seem he was too much to handle at the King George V Hospital at Rotorua.


CREELY. — Rifleman 24/1629 Percy Creely, 9th Reinforcements, 2nd Rifle Brigade, severely wounded in head by h.e. shell at Armentieres on the 2nd. June, 1916; operated upon in France; returned to New Zealand by Maheno on the 19th December, 1916, was paralysed as result of wound; and died from its effects on the 26th October, 1919, brother of H. J. Creely, Upper Hutt. Interment at Dunedin.  -Evening Post, 1/11/1919.


Mr H. J. Creely, of Upper Hutt, Wellington, desires to thank all persons for expressions of sympathy and kindness extended to him at the interment of his brother Percy.  -Evening Star, 31/10/1919.

After his death, Percy Creely's case was one of those taken up by the Returned Soldiers' Association.  They were highly critical of the treatment in mental asylums of some returned soldiers.


Treatment of Mental Patients

Colonel McDonald Hits Out.

(From "Truth's" Dunedin Rep.) From time to time we have heard and read a lot about the callous treatment meted out to soldier mental patients, and the irregular systems adopted for placing them in mental hospitals. This paper has repeatedly opened its columns to full reports of inquiries, commissions and meetings bearing on the sad state of affairs, and was indeed the first paper to ventilate the original case, that of Donald Macintosh, and succeed in having a public inquiry held into the charges made. The revelations as to affairs in asylums in this country in regard to soldier patients are little more damaging than what could be alleged respecting the receptions and treatment of ordinary civil patients in some cases. It is to be hoped that the repeated light and criticism turned on our mental hospitals will have the salutary effect of arousing some degree of public and political interest in the methods and conduct of magistrates, doctors, lawyers and officials who can combine frequently to make of these institutions places more dreadful and soulcrushing than were the bastilles of the middle ages. There are people m the madhouses of this country and Australia who are sane, and there are criminals, who have succeeded 

BY PROCESS OF LAW, and without process of law, in putting them there, who should be expiating their crimes in a convict prison. Unfortunately, we recognise that the public is taking everything lying down, and so long as officials and the supine political heads of the country have to deal with an unthinking, prostrate people, so long shall sanity toe the regulated and recognised sense only of the "powers that be" and their agents. 

Last week the executive of the Dunedin Returned Soldiers' Association resumed its offensive on the irregularities relating to soldier mental patients. We should, however, state that the offensive was mainly due to Colonel McDonald, Captain Jones, and one or two others, as there are on the executive of the Dunedin R.S.A. many supine characters  lawyers, doctors and business men — who look first to their bread and butter, and think as little of their unfortunate comrades as any of the supine members of the Government. 

Colonel McDonald said it was the most unpleasant thing he had ever tackled in his life, but it was the most important question he had come Ii contact with in his 25 years of military life. He would deal with the matter outside of military life altogether. Had he not been impressed with what he himself had seen, he would not have been convinced that the Minister's (Mr. Parr's) letter was nothing but camouflage of the real issue. He knew it did not convey a true impression of what the real issue was, and he was satisfied that grave abuses existed, so that it behoved everyone who called himself the comrade of these unfortunate men to see the thing through, as though they were calling for help on the field of battle; calling as they had actually done to his personal knowledge: 

....For God's sake come to our rescue. We are in a madhouse, and if we don't get out we will go mad altogether.

"The position is," said Colonel McDonald, ''that these men were incarcerated in madhouses contrary to law and without authority. As a result some had gone to their death-bed. For that they must place the responsibility on those who sent a man to a madhouse in a disabled condition." 

Quoting from the Mental Defectives' Act, 1911, section 120, the colonel showed that a superintendent commits an indictable offence if he receives, or detains, or permits to be detained, any mentally defective person except under Authority of the Act.

Relative to Karatane, he quoted from ihe Soldiers' Guide, describing Karatane under instructions to the control of the Defence Department, as a place providing pleasant, open-air life for soldiers suffering from a breakdown, and was for the express purpose of keeping them away irbm asylums. 

The chairman, Mr. McCrae, remarked that the method of admission had the approval of the R.S.A. headquarters. 

Colonel McDonald: No association has the right to assume responsibility for allowing its comrades to be dumped into madhouses. I know the strongest exception was taken to it in Wellington. 

Quoting from the annual report of Mental Hospitals for 1917, the colonel showed that Karatane had been started so that advantage might be taken of the special skill of the department's officers, but that where mental deficiency was pronounced, the soldier patients would be admitted to a mental hospital as affording the best chance of recovery. In the 1918 report it was stated that occasionally there were 

COMPLAINTS OF WRONGFUL COMMITTAL or detention, but in no case did investigation bear them out. Such complaints were generally made by patients whose minds were disordered. The 1919 report, dealing with a summary made by the Inspector-General of Mental Hospitals, divided soldier patients into two classes: Those who were treated successfully without a reception order, and held as voluntary patients at Karatane, or at the Wolf Home, Auckland; and those who could not be properly treated outside a mental hospital, and were committed under a magistrate's order. Some patients in the first class were on the borderline of the second, and those who passed beyond it had to be placed under a reception order in mental hospitals. Sir James Allen, when Minister of Defence, stated in Parliament that cases bordering on the mental were sent to Karatane, some of them under control; and that "in no case had there been a committal to a mental hospital until it was absolutely certain that the patient had to go there, and then only under the usual control." That was an absolute contradiction of the whole thing. The Hon; G. W. Russell said that the Mental Hospital Department acted only after complaints had been made, by the relatives or the police, or other responsible people, and after the patient had been examined. 

Colonel McDonald continuing, said that all these documents showed that the authorities had no knowledge of what was taking place. It had been said that the men were taken for their own good and to remove the stigma of having been committed to a mental hospital, but he (Colonel McDonald) had been personally to one, and found the names of every soldier patient, whether committed or not, entered and recorded against him, and everything that could be 

DONE TO PUT THE STIGMA ON HIM had been done. By the lunacy clause of the King's Regulations pay ceased when a soldier was described as a lunatic, and he knew of one instance where he found that they had stopped from one man £40. So far as he knew, no redress had been granted to these men. Gratuities were withheld in many cases, and pensions also. "That was the way in which the stigma was removed!" added the speaker. 

Colonel McDonald then went on to give several glaring instances of numerous cases that indicated the callousness of control exercised in the mad-houses, and the extraordinary weaknesses, duplicity or ignorance which the Government had exhibited. One case was that of a soldier who was discharged in 1917, and showed that the abuse of power disclosed in his case might be used towards a civilian, merely on the ground that he had once been a soldier. On February 23, he was transferred to Karatane from Dunedin Hospital, after a medical examination had been held. On February 25, he was sent to Seacllff Asylum without being committed. On April 2, he was transferred to Karatane, and on September 5 retransferred to Seacliff. On January 1 he was committed by a magistrate. On March 19 he complained to Wellington of being sent to Seacliff, and said he should have been discharged from Karatane in July. He went there, thinking he would get his discharge, and alleged that they promptly put him in again. In April he complained of his foot, and asked to be sent to the hospital. Base Records took up the case, and the next report was, that the man had died of heart failure. Could any man's heart stand such treatment? In another case, a soldier seeing no hope of getting out of Seacliff, escaped and got as far as Macraes Flat, where the police were invoked to arrest and return him to Seacliff as a lunatic. 

"He was kept there for months," said the colonel, "till the time came when the hospital authorities could apply with confidence for a committal. For all I know he is there still. Can you conceive anything worse than where one of our comrades 

MAKES A DESPERATE BID FOR LIBERTY he should meet with such treatment? It behoves everyone to do all in his power to enable us to get to the bottom of all this." 

Mr. Callan meekly said: "There was no doubt that the authorities knew that they had been in the wrong, but what was there now that they could set right? 

Colonel McDonald let the little legal light know that he wanted every entry in relation to their unfortunate comrades made in the books of mental hospitals to be erased, gratuities and other moneys paid where due, and assurance that the like will not occur again. 

The following resolution by the subcommittee was proposed: 

This executive, while not agreeing with the suggestion that there is any stigma on a man in being committed to a mental hospital as the result of war service, is strongly of opinion that the regular practice of committal by a magistrate should always be followed, and is glad to note that after attention had been directed to the matter there were no more cases of departure from that practice. 

The above unsoldierly and colorless resolution was passed unanimously — but only when Messrs. McDonald, Jones and McNish had succeeded in having it supplemented by the following important demand: 

That all entries be erased from the records either in or sent from mental hospitals; and that all moneys, pensions and gratuities of which soldier patients have been deprived in consequence of their under the lunacy clause of the King's Regulations be refunded to them, or to their next-of-kin.  -NZ Truth, 21/5/1921.

Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin. DCC photo.

Monday, 22 February 2021

The Townleys - lost on the "Creole," 28/8/1863.



Commercial Horse Bazaar. 


Ex Creole, from Launceston, daily expected. 

WRIGHT, ROBERTSON AND CO. have received instructions from W. H. Clayton, Esq., to sell by public auction, on arrival, 

The Cargo of the above ship, Consisting of Heavy Draught Horses and Mares, Working Bullocks, and Produce. 

Full particulars of which will be duly announced upon arrival.  -Otago Daily Times, 26/9/1863.


Considerable fears are entertained as to the safety of the brigantine Creole, which left Launceston thirty days ago for Otago, with stock and a number of passengers on board. It was feared she has been wrecked on Swan Island. The following is from the Launceston Examiner :—

Information has been received from the Superintendent of the lighthouse on Swan Island to the effect that on the 29th ultimo he found washed up on the beach, a bowsprit, jib-boom, windlass end, topmast stay-sail, wire jib-stay, chain bowsprit shroud, chain bob-stay, and iron caps. The articles were all entangled with each other, and appeared to have been but a short time in the water, and to have belonged to a vessel of 200 or 300 tons burthen. The windlass end was painted green, and the varnish on the sprit and jib was fresh, and a little chafed. The bowsprit apparently came out of the vessel whole. No maker's name appeared on the staysail, which was made of American canvas. The measurements are as follows: Length of bowsprit 28ft, circumference 4ft. 2in.; length of jib-boom 31ft, circumference 2ft. 6in; length of windlass end 2ft. 6in., circumference 4 ft. We believe that, from the description thus given of the wreck washed ashore, there is every reason to suppose that it does not belong to any vessel sailing from Launceston.  -Otago Daily Times, 28/9/1863.



(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.) Port Chalmers, 6th Oct., 7 p.m. The Victor, brig, from Melbourne, is at the Heads. The Lady Denison, brig, was towed up. Passengers for Otago: Mr. and Mrs Nicholson and family, Mrs Solomon and family, Misses Haggitt. Cargo mixed produce. 

She brings Tasmanian papers two days later than the Emma Prescott. She leaaves no doubt of the loss of the Creole; Boat, oars, and life-buoy with name Creole, was picked up, and boxes with Captain and passengers' names. 

A party has been organised to proceed to the wreck, but there are no hopes of finding survivors. 

No appearance yet of steamer Geelong, three days overdue.

Sailed This Evening: Isle of France, Royal Exchange, and Titania.

With reference to the loss of the Creole, we have the following further particulars: — The following telegram from Launceston was posted in Hobart Town on the 26th ult.: 

''Reported here that the schooner Creole has been wrecked near Waterhouse Island. The beach for miles is strewn with cattle, hay, &c, oars, lifebuoy, bedding, and other articles, with Captain's and ship's name on have been found. The above has been known among the inhabitants of the North Coast for the last three weeks, but has only been just reported."

In reference to this the Hobart Town Mercury of the 26th ult., says :—

We find that the brigantine Creole, 131 tons, Captain Fluerty, cleared out at the Launceston customs for Dunedin, on the 25th of August, and pasdd

ssed through Tarmar Heads on the morning of the 29th August. The following is the list of her passengers: Mr and Mrs F. A. C. Townley and child. Miss Bain, Mrs Green, Mr Henry Clayton, Masters Clayton (2), Mrs John Rattray and infant, Master Rattrays (2) Miss Rattray, W. Weymouth, Mr James Dean. Her crew comprised seven men, and eight who were shipped as grooms, and their names were entered on the ship's papers as follows: — Crew: Norman Clarke, John Cooke, Richard Mortimer, Thomas Smith, William Wilson, Thomas Joyce, W. Dewar, Robert Thompson. Grooms — Samuel Clewar, Frederick Gibbs, J. Lamont, Wm. Coleby, John Wilson, Thomas Green, and Andrew Stevenson. The Creole had, therefore, thirty-one souls on board, all of'whom have, it is feared, perished. The cargo was also a valuable one, comprising 200 fat sheep, fifteen heifers, twenty-five head fat cattle, twelve cart horses, 160 bls hay, 100 bags bran, 600 bags mangold wurzel, 50bags do, 50 bags carrots, and 50 bags oats, shipped by H. Clayton; 1 horse shipped by Jas. Dean; and 15 packages furniture, shipped by Mrs. Rattray. The Agents for the Creole were Messrs J. McNaughten and Sons. Waterhouse Island is situate about 50 miles to the north-eastward of Tamar Heads, and we are informed by those who have visited that quarter, that the coast is rocky and precipitous and the means of communication with the mainland extremely limited. It is probable that the unfortunate vessel was driven on shore during the night of the 29th August, at which time we are aware very heavy weather prevailed. The register of the weather from Low Heads on that day stated the wind to be strong from the westward, and squally, the barometer standing at 29° 20. It is extremely doubtful whether in the event of a sudden casualty on such a coast, so large a number of persons could be safely landed, and the time which has elapsed since the period of the wreck, almost destroys hope. Vessels are continually passing and repassing within sight of Waterhouse Island, and a shipwrecked crew would be almost certain to succeed in attracting attention by means of signals; besides this however, the inhabitants of the North Coast have known of this wreck for the past three weeks, and would not fail to make search for the survivors, whose names would assuredly have been included in the telegraphic information above given. Terrible as the conviction is therefore; we cannot bring ourselves to hope that one has survived out of the large number of souls on board the ill-fated Creole to tell the tale of her disaster. We must certainly say one word in reference to the gross carelessness of the authorities in not providing adequate means of communication between these isolated beacon stations along our coast and the main land. It is only a fortnight ago since a notice appeared in these columns, in reference to the finding of portions of the wreck on the beach at Swan Island on 9th August, and although there is a lighthouse-keeper and staff at this station, the letter announcing the fact was not dated until three days after the wreck was discovered. Nor did information reach the public until the 9th September, when the letter to the Master Warden was published in our shipping columns.  In cases of maritime disaster, immediate communication with the authorities is essentially necessary, and sure some means could be devised by which information of wrecks on those isolated and dangerous promontories could be forwarded to those stations in reasonable time.  -Otago Daily Times, 7/10/1863.

Some sensation has been created here by the intelligence of the wreck of the schooler Creole, bound from Launceston to this port, and having on board a large number of passengers coming to join their relatives in the province. Large quantities of wreck have been washed ashore on the North coast of Tasmania and the island adjacent to it, together with passengers' luggage, carcases of sheep, &c. But as not a single human body out of the thirty-one onboard has been washed ashore — nor any portion of the ribs or other ships' timbers, except those belonging to the deck house, some mystery is felt to attach to the real nature of the disaster. It is known that on the night after she left Launceston, the Creole must have encountered a fearful gale; and as the vessel had open hatches, on account of the presence of live stock on board, it is conjectured that her decks must have been swept and the vessel have subsequently foundered.   -Otago Daily Times, 17/10/1863.

The Townleys' father, Frederick Augustus, died of tuberculosis before reading the news of his children's demise.  It seems likely that they were on their way to join him, or at least visit him before his death.  For Amelia; wife, mother and then widow, it would have been a tragic time.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.

Joseph Pring, 1859-2/2/1898.


A riderless horse belonging to Messrs Grindley Bros., butchers, bolted up Princes street this afternoon from the north end of the City and knocked down a young man named Joseph Pring, a hansom cab driver, who was standing alongside his horse at the stand opposite the shop kept by Mr Jacobs, tobacconist. Pring was picked up in an insensible state and removed to the hospital, where the doctor pronounced him to be suffering from concussion of the brain. It is not known whether serious consequences are likely to ensue.   -Evening Star, 28/1/1898.

The Octagon, 1905. Cabs in the lower left corner.  Photo courtesy of the Hocken Library.


On inquiring at the Hospital this afternoon we were informed that Joseph Pring, the cabman who was knocked down by a runaway horse yesterday, is making satistactory progress.   -Evening Star, 29/1/1898.


Joseph Pring, the cabman who a few days ago was knocked down in Princes street by a runaway horse, died in the hospital about half-past nine last evening. He never rallied to any great extent since the accident, but he took a decided turn for the worse yesterday and died at the hour indicated. He was a single man, and about thirty-six years of age. The Coroner held an inquest on the body at a late hour this afternoon.   -Evening Star, 3/2/1898.


An inquest was held at the hospital yesterday, before Mr E. H. Carew (coroner) and a jury of six (of whom Mr H. Spiers was chosen foreman), on the body of Joseph Pring, who died at the hospital from injuries sustained by being knocked down by a horse in Princes street on Friday last.

James Jackson, hansom cab-driver, gave evidence that deceased was born in Victoria, and came here about thirty years ago. He was a single man. At three o'clock on Friday afternoon last witness was at the head of the cab rank, standing near his cab. Someone cried "Look out," and witness ran to his horse's head. At that moment a saddle horse, but not ridden by anyone, passed between the cab and a tramcar. It was going at a furious rate. It galloped through and knocked down Pring, who was talking to another cabman named Dick Metcalfe. Pring was thrown heavily on to the footpath. When he was picked up blood was on his forehead.

Richard Metcalfe, cabdriver, deposed that he was talking to the deceased at the time the accident occurred. Witness caught a momentary glimpse of a horse galloping down upon them. Witness cried "Look out," and rushed to his horse's head. Pring looked round, and witness saw the horse strike him on the back, knocking him down. Witness and a man named George Elliot picked him up and carried him to the chemist's shop. Afterwards he was removed to the hospital. He was insensible when he was picked up. 

Constable Hickey gave evidence that he saw the horse galloping along Princes street. It had a saddle, and the reins appeared to be fastened to the stirrups.

William Kelly, butcher, in the employ of William Grindley, stated that he was delivering meat on Friday afternoon, and at the corner of St. David and George streets he tied his horse up to a telephone post to deliver meat. He unbuckled the bridle and tied it round the iron bar running up the post. When he was coming back a kerosene tin used for ashes blew along the street, and the horse taking fright pulled back from the post and broke the bridle. It started trotting along George street, and at Albany street a man ran out to try and stop it. It then galloped away up town, and witness, going back and procuring another horse, rode up Cumberland street to get the runaway. He got it at the tram stables. If the man had not tried to stop it the horse would have gone down Albany street home. 

Dr A. Stenhouse, house surgeon at the hospital, stated that be examined deceased when he was brought to the hospital, and found him suffering from a fracture of the base of the skull, contusions on the right temple and at the back of the head. He was bleeding from the ear and nose. He was unconscious. He showed slight signs of improvement during the first few days. On Wednesday afternoon he developed congestion of the bases of both lungs, and quickly sank, dying about half-past nine in the evening. The cause of death was congestion of the lungs, with concussion of the brain from fracture of the base of the skull. 

The Coroner: Was congestion of the lungs in connection with the fracture? — I could not say. 

The Coroner: Would he have lived if congestion of the lungs had not set in? - Possibly.

A verdict was returned "That deceased met his death by being accidentally knocked down by a horse." and the jury added a rider "That dust tins should not be allowed out at a late hour of the day." The dust tin was the cause of the accident. It was a common thing for dust tins to be left about the streets, and they were blown about. The coroner was requested to write to the City Council to that effect.  -Evening Star, 4/2/1898.

 A number of cabmen (including more especially hansom cab drivers) propose to take steps to collect funds to defray the cost of the funeral of their late comrade Joseph Pring, who died in the hospital on Wednesday evening from injuries sustained by being knocked down by a runaway. It is also proposed, if possible, to erect a suitable memorial over his grave.   -Otago Daily Times, 4/2/1898.

The funeral of the late Joseph Pring, the hansom cab driver who died from injuries sustained by being knocked down by a runaway horse in Princes street, took place yesterday. The body was followed to its last resting place in the Southern Cemetery by all the hansom cab drivers of the city and a number of cabs and landaus. The vehicles numbered nearly a score.   -Otago Daily Times, 5/2/1898.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin. DCC photo.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

2/1751 Corporal Alfred Nind Andrews, NZFA, DCM, MiD, 21/12/1894-17/6/1917.

Alfred Andrews, a clerk and son of a carpenter, volunteered for the New Zerland Army in April, 1915, being appointed Cook in October of that year and then relinquishing that job to serve on trench mortars.  He musgt have found his place in the war, being promoted to Bombardier at the beginning of 1917 and then Corporal the following March.  This second promotion would seem to be the result of his actions - which were "Mentioned in Dispatches" by Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig - with the Auckland Regiment as detailed below:

At Bois Grenier on 21st February 1917, this NCO did exceptionally good work during the raid of the 2nd Auckland Battallion. The batteries were heavily shelled throughout and in spite of the heavy fire Bombardier Andrews remained with the mortar, adjusting the mechanism which was causing trouble during the action, and set a splendid example to the men under him. During a previous raid by the enemy, the Corporal in charge of the detachment was killed. Bombardier Andrews took charge although the mortar was out of action, removed same to a dug out, exhibiting coolness and resourcefulness throughout, thus saving his mortar from being captured. 

In August of that month he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal:

London Gazette, 16/8/1917: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He showed the greatest coolness and contempt for danger on three seperate occasions, when his mortar had been put out of action by hostile fire, repairing it himself and getting it back into action. On another occassion, although wounded himself, he assisted to carry one of his comrades back to the dressing station. His cheerful disposition and pluck at all times inspired great confidence in his men. He has since been seriously wounded.

Alfred died in No. 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station of abdominal wounds received in action.  That he survived to reach the Station indicates the possibility of a painful death.  I hope he was given morphine for the rough journey from the front line to the CCS.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Matthew Thomas, 1874-6/1/1898.

 Preservation Inlet Goldfields


Many hearts were made sad on the arrival of the s.s. Invercargill last week bringing the news of the death of Matthew Thomas, one of our most respected and popular residents. Mat, as he was generally called, was quite a young man and was working in the Morning Star mine. He left here in apparently perfect health, with all the others, for the holidays, took a severe cold and died at his home in Dunedin. He was a general favourite in the community and will be much missed. Great sympathy was expressed on all sides for those left sorrowing. The weather for the past week has been dreadful — rain and wind, hail and thunder in succession, and a remarkable thing was that during the 11th and 12th, an extreme darkness overhung the district, so much so that in the houses the lamps had to be lighted at five o'clock. The miners have all returned to-day, and work will be commenced next week. While the steamer was at the wharf this afternoon J. Haberfield, by some mischance, fell into the water, but was promptly rescued by a boat's crew that was passing, and nothing more serious than a ducking was the result.   -Southland Times, 17/1/1898.


Thomas. — On the 6th January, at Josephine street, Caversham, Matthew, the third son of Margaret Jane and the late Matthew Thomas and late of Morning Star mine, Preservation Inlet, aged 23 years. Deeply regretted.  -Otago Daily Times, 18/1/1898.

A very pretty incident, showing the good fellowship which exists among miners, has just come under our notice, and is deserving of full publicity. About two and a-half years ago, amongst a number of others, a young man, Matthew Thomas, went to Preservation Inlet to work on the Morning Star reef. He soon made friends, and by the geniality of his disposition was respected by his comrades. Last Christmas, accompanied by his brother, he came up to Dunedin to spend a few days with his mother, who resides at Caversham. Both were in splendid health, but influenza, which attacks strong and weak alike, attached itself to one of the brothers (Matthew), and in a few days he died from its effects. Upon hearing the sad news, the fellow-miners of deceased and the residents of Preservation Inlet generally clubbed together and raised the sum of £50, ($9710 today) with which they have erected a handsome granite headstone to the grave in the Southern Cemetery (Dunedin) of their late comrade.  -Evening Star, 13/6/1898.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.

Thomas Wood, 1809-3/8/1885


Many of our readers will remember Mr Thomas Wood who was for a considerable time lessee of the billiard room at the Commercial Hotel, Milton. He is now in London, living at the Britannia Hotel in the City Road, kept by Mr Drummond, the husband of Dolly Green, the well-known actress. By the last mail, a lady residing in Dnnedin received a letter from Mr Wood, and she has kindly placed it at our disposal: 

London, 22nd May, 1876.

Dear Madam, After four months' travelling, I sit down to acquaint you with a few of my "sights." You know the grand sights and display that are to be seen at Cadova by seeing the natives come off to the vessels, and through the tropics to the Sandwich Islands. There I stopped one day, and was much delighted by seeing about 15 mules coming down through the valleys, loaded with bananas, to our good ship, consigned to merchants in 'Frisco.' After leaving the Islands, Washington's birthday came on, and we had a grand ball on board. We enjoyed everything right through to 'Frisco.' Then agony began; for it hailed and rained in torrents. I saw all I could possibly see in one week - then for the snowy mountains. I stopped at Hogden, and went to the salt lakes but returned the same night, for I could see nothing but snow, and the Tabernacle resembled a mushroom top among the snow. I went on to Sacramento; there had been no trains through for three weeks. We had five engines on, and one snow plough. We buried one engine and smothered three chinamen. At last we got through to Chicago, where I saw Julia  Matthews and Johnny Hall. I stopped there two days, and then went to the Exhibition, where, in three days I got disgusted, for the buildings there bear no comparison to our Crystal Palace or the Alexandra. I then went on to New York where I expected to see Mr Moody, but did not through Mr C— giving me the wrong address. I stopped in New York a week, and then left for Liverpool. As I do not like Liverpool I went on to London. 

Since I have been here we have had nothing but rain and bad weather, and I wish I had taken your advice, and stayed a couple of months later. However, I pased my time seeing the fair sex: — in Rotten Row, the morning flower-shows, in Albert Hall, and at the Operas and fireworks in the evening. I have been to all the races, and saw the Inflexible launched at Portsmouth — the Prince's arrival, the banquet, the procession, and ball - a sight I shall never forget. As the song says, "I wish I were a boy again, and had but a thousand a year, gaffer." I saw Mr Sam Lazarus and several more old faces, and they all wish they were back in Dunedin. 

To conclude — I hope this will find you in good health, as it has left me at present, thank God! Remember me to all old friends. 

Yours respectfully, Old Tom Wood.

PS.— If all is well, I will be back by November. I have not made up my mind which way I shall come. I can get plenty of rooms in London but I cannot sit down to mark a game of billiards for sixpence, as the Summer is setting in, and very little play.  TM  -Bruce Herald, 25/7/1876.

Mr Thomas Wood, or "Old Tom Wood" — to use a name by which he is more generally known — has returned to New Zealand, and in a very short time he will be in Milton to entertain us with stories of his wonderful adventures on land and sea. It will be remembered that he left here less than a year ago to visit the Philadelphia Exhibition, and since then he has visited the Eastern and Western States of America, Great Britain, and the continent of Europe. Society in San Francisco did not suit Tom Wood, so after becoming pretty proficient in the use of the revolver he left for the East, carrying with him as mementos of his visit three revolver bullets in the calf of his left leg. He found Salt Lake City more to his taste, but there he narrowly escaped having thirteen wives and a small family of forty-seven children "sealed" to him, so he determined to move eastward again. At Brooklyn he met the Rev. Ward Beecher, who was delighted to hear that the people of Milton sympathised with him in his late troubles. Tom resisted the earnest entreaties of his eminent friend, and declined to take shares in a new church about to be started on Long Island. After being introduced to President Grant, he left New York for Liverpool, and soon found his way to London, where he was hospitably entertained by the Colonial Secretary. With much good sense, Mr Wood gracefully but firmly declined the honor of knighthood, and after wandering over the continent for a month or two became so disgusted with the effete civilisation of the old world that he determined to return to New Zealand once more. He will tell the rest himself. 

John Smith.  -Bruce Herald, 12/12/1876.

Town Topics

Most residents of Milton will remember Mr Thomas Wood, or if they don't remember him they may perhaps be able to recall "Old Tom" to their recollection. He left your township nearly two years ago, and after enjoying the hospitality of the King of Samoa, Brigham Young, the President of the United States, and an old lady who keeps a tea and shrimp shop at Gravesend, he returned to New Zealand firm in the conviction that marking billiards at sixpence per game in the old country was more than he could stand. Some months ago Thomas entered into arrangements with Mr W. L. Philp, of the Shamrock Hotel, who has just erected one of the most comfortable billiard rooms in town, and furnished it with one of the most handsome and expensive tables made by Alcock and Co, of Melbourne. The room was opened to the public on Friday night last, and the occasion was celebrated by an inaugural game at general pool and a grand supper. Tom did not succumb until a late hour in the morning, when he was borne on two billiard cues to his bed, where a facetious member of the company read the rules for devil's pool over his remains. He's better now; but a strong demand has increased the price of brandy and soda.  -Bruce Herald, 26/6/1877.

Public Notices


IF you wish to see a Brilliant light visit the Shamrock Billiard saloon. 

TOM WOOD. August 8.   -Evening Star, 8/8/1877.

An invitation was extended to our City Fathers by letter at last night's meeting, in the following terms: "Northern Hotel, Oamaru Feb. 3, 1881. — To his Worship the Mayor and Councillors of the Borough of Oamaru Gentlemen, — I have the honor to invite you to inspect the splendid billiard saloon at the Northern Hotel this evening, where will be seen the prince of tables, the prince of markers, and the prince of lights; open for inspection uo to 12 o'clock. — Yours faithfully, Old Tom Wood." Councillors smiled blandly as the letter was laid on the table.   -North Otago Times, 4/2/1881.

BILLIARD CHALLENGE £500 For the Best Table in the Colony. 




To be found at 


Grand Room. Furniture unsurpassed. 

OLD TOM WOOD, (From the Shamrock Hotel Dunedin,) 

Has the pleasure to announce that he has brought up his Magnificent Alcock Table for the use of the Oamaru players; and by his well-known attention and civility, hopes to meet with the public patronage.

Pool every night.   -Oamaru Mail, 23/2/1881.



OLD TOM WOOD (late of the Shamrock Billiard Room) is now in harness, having taken the Royal Exchange Room, which is furnished with two of Alcock’s best Tables, and invites his old friends to rally round. 

Pool Every Night.  -Evening star, 3/9/1881.



Is now Open under the management of the renowned TOM WOOD. For style and comfort this Room stands unrivalled in the Australasian Colonies.   -Otago Daily Times, 1/3/1882.

Mr Thomas Wood, better known as Tom Wood, a well-known resident, and somewhat of a celebrity, died yesterday of heart-disease and dropsy, in his 75th year, at the Shamrock Hotel, after a long and painful illness. The deceased, who was a native of Devonshire, came out to New South Wales when a boy of 16 as a servant to the late Dr Finlay, one of the earliest stockowners of that Colony. In the early digging days of Victoria he was the second, if not the first, to drive the coach between Melbourne and Ballarat on the breaking out of the goldfields. He arrived in New Zealand about 23 years ago, where he followed principally the two occupations of coachdriver and billiard-table keeper. He was much liked and respected by all who knew him for his genial and hearty manner, and kindly disposition.  -Otago Dauily Times, 4/8/1885.

Dunedin Gossip

Genial, jovial, light-hearted Tom Wood has also joined the majority, and his well-known figure and "frosty now" will be no longer seen in our streets. Thomas Wood was known to most people in Dunedin as the lessee of several billiard-rooms — and those he kept were always distinguished for their freedom from the objectionable features common to some — but old Victorians will know him best as the second, if not even the first, driver of Cobb's coach between Melbourne and Ballarat, and many will remember him when handling the reins for Cobb in Otago. Vale!  -Cromwell Argus, 11/8/1885.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

23640 Private Robert Wallace Watson, 16/12/1895-17/1/1921.

Robert Wallace Watson was a Glasgow-born, Dunedin-based painter when he enlisted. He left New Zealand for France in mid-1916.

Robert Watson was wounded in battle three times, all minor wounds, before he received his ultimately fatal gunshot wound in 1918 which left him a cripple.  

A memo sent to the military records office in Wellington, giving details of his military burial, adds theis description of the cause of death: "GSW spine, mental aberration, asthenia." GSW (gunshot wound) seems simple enough, but "mental aberration" is a shocker.  As for "asthenia," it needed some research to find that it refers to a general and extreme fatigue of the body and mind.

Mr Robert Wallace Watson, the eldest son of Mr and Mrs R. S. Watson, of Belleknowes, died in the Dunedin Hospital on Monday morning from the effects of wounds received in action on July 21, 1918. Though discharged from the forces in April last, he had never been out of hospital since his return to New Zealand in January, 1919. Private Watson was wounded four times during his two years in France. He bore with great fortitude the spinal incapacity from which he finally succumbed, and his loss is greatly deplored by a large circle of friends and comrades.  -Otago Daily Times, 18/1/1921.



WATSON. — On January 17, at Dunedin Hospital (the result of wounds received on active service, July, 1918), 23640 — Private Robert Wallace Watson, the beloved eldest son of R. S. and M. Watson, 7 Carnarvon street, Belleknowes, Mornington; aged 25 years.

“A patient sufferer gone to rest.” 

MILITARY FUNERAL. The Friends of Mr and Mrs R. S. WATSON (and Family) are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of their late SON, 23640 — Private R. W. WATSON, which will leave their Residence, 7 Carnarvon street, Belleknowes, Mornington, TO-MORROW (WEDNESDAY), the 19th inst., at 2 p.m., for the Anderson’s Bay Cemetery.— HOPE & KINASTON, Undertakers, 36 St. Andrew street.   -Otago Daily Times, 18/1/1918.

Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin.