Wednesday, 31 March 2021

421492 Flying Officer William Andrews, 1920-12/8/1944.

HM Destroyer Onslow was close to the Geman-occupied French coast on August twelfth, 1944, patrolling with two other destroyers, the HMS Diadem and the Polish Piorun.  The previous day a Luftwaffe bomber had used a new weapon on the ship - a radio-controlled gliding bomb, though the bomb missed the ship comfortably.  The crew were very much on the alert at 4am on the 12th when an aeroplane appeared on radar - on course for them and not transmitting any IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) signals.  It was gliding silently in the darkness and just before reaching the ships the plane opened up its engines.

The four-engined aeroplane dropped bombs which missed the Onslow.  The Onslow's gunners, however, did not miss the bomber, which hit the sea and expoded.  The bomber was a Liberator of 224 Squadron, RAF, which had detected the ships on its own radar on a submarine-hunting patrol.  By that stage of the war, the only way for German submarines to return to base from the Atlantic was to cross the Bay of Biscay at night.

William Andrews was second pilot on board the Liberator. There were no survivors.  His remains lie in the wreck of the aeroplane, off the coast near La Rochelle, with the rest of his crew.

Temuka Cemetery

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

403239 Aircraftsman (1) George Herbert William Taylor, 1920-9/11/1941.



(P.A.) WELLINGTON, Sept. 11. The Air Department, Wellington, announced to-night that a wireless operator, Aircraftman George Herbert William Taylor, was killed this afternoon when he fell from an aircraft of the Royal New Zealand Air Force during bumpy weather near Havelock. 

Aircraftman Taylor was born at Temuka in 1921, and was the son of Mr George Taylor, of Temuka. 

A court of inquiry will be held.  -Evening Star, 12/9/1941.

At the time of his death, George Taylor was serving in No. 2 Squadron, RNZAF, based in Blenheim and conducting reconaissance patrols over Cook Strait.  They flew 1930s vintage biplanes, which were replaced with modern bomber/patrol aircraft not long after the accident.




An inquest into the death of George Herbert William Taylor, aged 20 years, wireless operator in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, who was killed as the result of falling from a plane near Havelock on 11th September, was held at the Magistrate's Court to-day. The Coroner was Mr T. E. Maunsell. S.M. Senior-Sergeant Petersen represented the police. 

Charles Fulton Pattie, medical officer at the Nelson Air Force station, said that deceased suffered multiple injuries as a result of his impact with the ground. 

William Bernard Pettet, pilot officer, said that on the 11th September he was piloting the plane, which was also occupied by Roy Bert Anderson, in the central cockpit, and Taylor, in the rear cockpit. The rear cockpit on the plane was a shallow one. Taylor had his parachute harness on when he entered the machine and had means of fastening himself in the plane. Witness did not know whether Taylor made use of the means provided for fastening himself. They were passing over Havelock Suburban when Anderson passed witness a note indicating that Taylor was not in the plane. Flying conditions had been bumpy and he could only assume that Taylor fell out as the result of one of the bad bumps. Deceased was a wireless operator and lived at the Aerodrome. 

Roy Bert Anderson, Aircraftman II., said that for some reason he looked back and saw that Taylor was not in his cockpit. He had not heard or seen anything. He looked back two or three minutes after a bad bump. He could only assume that Taylor was thrown out by a bad bump. When the plane left the ground to all appearances Taylor had strapped himself in. 

The Coroner commented that no doubt that aspect would be investigated at the service enquiry. 

Mr Maunsell returned a verdict that death was due to multiple injuries sustained while travelling in an Air Force plane.  -Nelson Evening Mail, 23/9/1941.

Temuka Cemetery, NZ.

Francis Brosnan, 1883-31/5/1910.


OTIRA, June 1. A fatal accident occurred within the vicinity of the tunnel at midnight on Tuesday, the victim being Francis Brosnan, aged 27, a native of County Kerry, Ireland. He was evidently returning to his hut and was run over by a rake of the trucks, running from the tunnel to the tiphead.  -Press, 2/6/1910.



An inquest was held in the Tunnel Hall, Otira, touching the death of Mark Brosnan, before M. Fitzgerald, Esq., J.P. Acting Coroner, and a jury of six, consisting of J. H. Ralph, G. O’Malley, P. W. Pope, J. McCreanor, W. R. Pope, T .E. White. 

Mr P. W. Pope was chosen foreman. 

Mr Toye watched the proceedings on behalf of the workers and deceased’s relatives. 

Constable Martin conducted the case for the Crown. 

D. A. Darling, tunnel labourer, said: I knew deceased well; saw him in Otira Hotel on May 31st at 10 minutes to 8 p.m.; deceased was suffering from a severe cold; had a fair amount of drink; heard him ask for more drink and he was refused by Mr Moynihan. Witness left the hotel at 9.15 p.m. Deceased was still there. In witness’s estimation deceased was capable of looking after himself. In reply to Mr McLean witness said in his opinion that drink was refused him because he thought that he had enough. 

Patrick Dennis Crowley, Tunnel labourer, said: I knew deceased for about three years. I have been his camp mate for about eight or nine months. Saw deceased at the camp and he complained of a bad cold; left deceased in bed in usual health otherwise. Did not see him again until I saw his body about 1.30 a.m. on June Ist.

To Mr McLean: It is between two and three months since I last saw deceased worse for liquor. 

Thomas Moynihan, barman at Otira Tunnel, said: I remember May 31st; knew deceased; saw him at the hotel at 8.30 a.m.; he said he had a bad cold, and stayed at the hotel till noon; could not say if deceased had been drinking or not. He came back against at 7 p.m.; I am not aware that he had any meals; after 7 p.m. I served him with two drinks of rum and cloves. I also gave him 2s worth of rum in a bottle; he left the hotel at twenty minutes to ten. My father went out with him and Mr O’Shea; deceased was capable of looking after himself; I never saw him again after he left the hotel.

To a juror: I consider he was in a fit state to serve with liquor; later on I refused him drink because he was a bit noisy. 

John Martin, crane driver, deposed — I knew deceased by sight; remember the night of 31st May last; I went to the hotel at 9.30 p.m. and saw deceased there; there were four men in the bar, including myself; another man arrived during my stay; deceased’s voice seemed very hoarse and he appeared to be under the influence of liquor; heard him ask for drink and was refused by Mr Thomas Moynihan and sent to Mr Denis Moynihan who sent him back again to Mr Thomas Moynihan; could not say if he eventually got any liquor; in my opinion the deceased was drunk. Saw him again between a quarter to eleven and eleven o’clock outside the co-operative stores: when I came around the corner I asked him if that was as far as he got. He said, “Yes, I am alright; I am going home shortly.” I then left him and went home. 

James O’Connor, trucker in the employ of Messrs McLean, and Sons, said; I knew him to be a steady man. Remember the night of 31st May. I went on shift at 4 o’clock. To the best of my knowledge the accident happened at a quarter to twelve. Saw nothing to attract my attention until I arrived within four chains of the tiphead where the front waggon left the track; I thought there was somebody under it, and took my lamp oft the front and looked round the truck, but could see no one; I put my lamp on the back truck and waited for the engine to come down; Bob Cantell and Farrissey arrived and I told them to make a shunt and get the waggon on; Farrissey called out to me he saw a man’s hand under the truck. A few second after we saw a man buried under the trucks; I took the engine and went away to call Andrews and sent Bob Cantell, the engine driver, to call Mr Cowan and Mr Gavin. They came down with engine and track and brought the body to the hall. 

To a juror: — I was standing on the third waggon when the truck was derailed by having struck what was afterwards proved to be deceased. 

To Mr. McLean: — I think the light on the track is sufficient. 

William Farrissey, trucker in the employ of Messrs McLean and Sons, said I knew deceased and remember the night of May 31st, I met O'Connor at ten minutes to twelve o’clock p.m. He said the front truck was off the line, and that we would have to shunt to get it on. I went and had a look and saw a man’s hand under the truck. I then called O’Connor, and in a quarter of an hour we had deceased out, but life was extinct. The body was then taken up to the hall. 

Constable Martin, stationed at Otira, said — I remember the night of the 31st May. About 12.15 a.m. I was informed that an accident had taken place at the Otira tunnel. I immediately proceeded to the scene and found that deceased had been taken to the recreation hall, I afterwards saw the body which was much knocked about; life was extinct. I might also state that, I visited the Otira Hotel at 9.30 the same night. The licensee seemed to be under the impression that it was closing up time. I saw deceased standing in the bar parlour with his back to the fire; he did not appear to be drunk, but owing to the lights being turned out I could not see if he was sober or drunk. There was only four men in the bar at the time I visited the hotel. All the rooms were in darkness except the bar parlour. There was nobody in the other rooms.

This closed the evidence and the jury retired to consider their verdict. 


On returning the jury announced the following verdict: “'That Francis Brosnan met his death accidentally and that no blame is attached to the contractors or truckers.” 

The following riders were also attached; (1). The jury recommend that notices placed in prominent positions warning people of the danger of walking on the tramline.

(2). That the deceased was in a state of intoxication during the day. The jury are of the opinion that sufficient police supervision is not being exercised in the regulation of the drink traffic in Otira and would recommend to the Minister of Justice that an extra Constable be permanently stationed at Otira.  -West Coast Times, 6/6/1910.

Temuka Cemetery, NZ.

Florence Mildred Baynes, 1900-26/1/1924.


Baynes - on January 26th, at Timaru Hospital, Florence Mildred, dearly loved wife of Harold Baynes and fifth daughter of Charles and Annie Stephens, 52 Nursery Road, Linwood; aged 24 years.  -Press, 28/1/1924.



An inquest concerning the death of Florence Mildred Baynes, a married woman residing at Clandeboye, whose death occurred at the Public Hospital On Friday afternoon, was held before the Coroner (Mr E. D. Mosley) at the Courthouse, Timaru, on Saturday morning.

Harold Arthur Baynes, farmer, residing at Clandeboye, Temuka, stated that the deceased was his late wife, Florence Mildred Baynes, who up till Jan. 24th resided at his home at Clandeboye. Deceased was 24 years of age, and always enjoyed good health until last Wednesday. A fortnight or three weeks previously deceased consulted a doctor but did not inform witness what was wrong. On Wednesday deceased told witness that she fell against a verandah post and hurt herself. She went to bed about 8 p.m. and was unwell during the night. Witness suggested calling in a doctor, but his wife would not allow him to do so. Her condition gradually got worse and at about 2.30 a.m. on Thursday witness telephoned for the doctor who arrived at about 2 a.m. They had two children, the elder aged two years, and another eleven months old. Witness did not know that his wife had had a miscarriage, although he suspected that this had occurred. At about one o’clock on Friday afternoon the doctor ordered his wife’s removal to the hospital. 

To the Coroner: They had been married about three years. Witness was not aware that his wife was pregnant, and did not think the deceased knew. 

The Coroner: She must have known, otherwise she would not have performed the operation on herself, it seems most extraordinary that a woman under such circumstances should perform an operation on herself. Are you quite sure she did not tell you? 

Dr. A. W. Hogg, Temuka, said that he know the deceased. On the morning of the 25th, at about 3a.m. he was called by telephone to the residence of Mr Baynes. On arrival he found deceased in a state of collapse, and suffering from loss of blood. On examination witness found signs of a miscarriage. Deceased stated that she had fallen against the verandah. Her condition at the time would not permit of removal. Witness remained till about 7a.m. She was then stronger but still very weak. He returned again at half-past ten, and found that her strength had improved. She was then removed to hospital. Witness told deceased that she had hud a miscarriage, and she said she had fallen against the verandah. Deceased had called upon him oii the previous Saturday. She was then in absolute good health, being a particularly healthy woman. He suspected that she had performed an operation, and after a great deal of persuasion she informed witness that she had interfered with herself.

Dr. T. L, Parr, medical superintendent at the Timaru Hospital, stated that the deceased was admitted to the hospital on January 25 at. about 1.45 p.m. Witness examined her and found her in a state of severe shock. Deceased showed signs of peritonitis and was bleeding to death. An operation was carried out at 4 p.m. The examination disclosed general peritonitis and a septic condition. The only thing possible to endeavour to save her was done quickly, but she collapsed and died about 4.30 p.m. before the wound was closed. In witness’s opinion the cause of death was sepsis and general peritonitis due to perforation, which must have been caused several days previously with some blunt instrument. 

To the Coroner: It was very doubtful from the woman’s state whether she would survive the operation, but it was the only way by which her life might have been saved. 

The Coroner said the evidence was sufficient to show the cause of death, and also to enable him to say that there was no blame attachable to the husband. 

Death was due to sepsis and general peritonitis caused by some blunt instrument.  -Temuka Leader, 29/1/1924.

Temuka Cemetery, NZ.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Isabella Morton, 1867-12/7/1888.


Morton — On the I2th July, at his residence, Temuka, Ellen, third daughter of Mr John Morton, aged 16 years, after a short and painful illness; deeply regretted.   -Timaru Herald, 14/7/1885.


Morton.—July 12th, at Temuka, Isabella, oldest daughter of Sergeant Morton, in her 21st year. Deeply regretted.  -Timaru Herald, 14/7/1888.

Sudden Death at Temuka.

The sudden death of Miss Isabella Morton, eldest daughter of Constable Morton, police officer in charge of Temuka, on the railway platform at Temuka about mid-day yesterday, cast a deep gloom over the district. The deceased lady was but 20 years of age, and had been up to yesterday in charge of the Rangitata Island School. She stayed at the farm of Mr Robertson, and feeling unwell on Wednesday, this gentleman gave her a glass of brandy. For the rest of the day she felt better, but complaining of illness again yesterday Mr Robertson decided to accompany her home. He drove to the station, and caught the down express, and until reaching Winchester Miss Morton felt all right. At this station she asked for a glass of wine, and Mr Robertson replied that he would get one for her at Temuka. On the express reaching this town Constable Morton was in waiting, and his daughter just managed to get on to the platform and reach his arms when she expired. Dr Hayes was summoned, but his services were of no avail. The deceased lady was a remarkably clever teacher. She had been in delicate health for a long time, but until the last few days had not complained of being seriously ill. Great sympathy is expressed for her parents, and her loss will be keenly mourned by a large circle of friends. An inquest was to be held at four o’clock this afternoon.  -South Canterbury Times, 13/7/1888.


An inquest was held at the Temuka Courthouse, yesterday, before C. Wray, Esq., District Coroner, touching the death of Isabella Morton. The following jury were empanelled: — Messrs K. F. Gray, Jas. Winning, W. Storey, C. Williams, E. H. Brewer, and J. Philipson. Mr K. F. Gray was chosen foreman. 

John Shaw Hayes, a duly qualified medical practitioner residing and practising at Temuka, said: I attended the deceased on several different occasions during the last three years. She was of a delicate constitution, and suffered from anaemia or thin blood. I was called to see her yesterday on arrival of the express from Christchurch. I found her in the waiting room at the railway station. Life was then extinct. I saw nothing to lead me to suppose that she died from other than natural causes. I have treated her for severe vomiting, and also for an attack of pleurisy. She had no heart disease. I think it probable that her death was caused by an embolism, that is, where a clot of blood becomes detached in circulation and causes death through embarrassment of some important organ, such as heart, brain, or lungs. I believe death to have occurred from natural causes.

The Coroner intimated that if the jury were satisfied with the medical evidence there would be no necessity for a post mortem. It would be inexpressibly painful to the parents, but if they considered it necessary it would be done.

The Foreman said the jury did not think there was any occasion for it. The evidence was then proceeded with.

Mr Robertsoh, farmer, Rangitata Island, said: I was acquainted with the deceased, who was boarding at my house for the past three weeks. She was in her usual health until Wednesday last. At about half-past two in the aftemoon she retired to her bedroom and commenced vomiting. Mrs Robertson went and stopped with her. I saw her on the following day. In consequence of what my wife told me, I drove deceased to the Rangitata Siding, and accompanied her in the express to Temuka. She did not complain. In the train at Winchester, I asked her if she felt any pain. She said, “No.” I noticed on nearing Temuka that she looked bad. I saw her drink some milk and water several times while on the journey. She vomited once or twice. When we got near Temuka I thought she was dying from the color of her face and eyes. On arrival at Temuka I could not get her to move. Her father came into the carriage. He carried her out. She was then in a dying condition. Deceased was mistress of a school about two miles distant from my house.

Mary Ann Grainger, wife of Henry Grainger, Rangitata Island, said: I knew the deceased. On Wednesday Afternoon I went across to Mrs Robertson, and found deceased in bed. She was vomitting, and appeared very ill. We applied hot bottles to her feet, and hot flannels to her body. The treatment gave her relief. She was very sick again about 12 o clock. I remained with her all night. She was craving to be sent home. I went with her in the train to Temuka. She did not complain, but wished for something to drink. I gave her some milk and water. She got worse when we were nearing Temuka. She said if she got a glass of wine at the station she would be able to walk home to her mother. On arrival at Temuka her father was awaiting her. She lay in my arms until her father took her away. When her father spoke to her she opened her eyes, but did not speak. She was carried to the waiting room. She vomited several times in the train. The worst time was when nearing Temuka. She appeared to get cold. 

John Morton, constable in charge of Temuka station, said: The deceased, Isabella Morton, was my daughter. She would have been 21 next October. She has been suffering for the past three years from loss of appetite and weakness. She had attacks of retching that required medical attendance. She had taken a holiday from last January to recruit her health. I received a telegram at 20 minutes to 12 on Thursday saying that she was coming home, and I was to have a buggy in waiting at the station. On arrival of the train I entered the compartment she as in. She was lying in Mrs Grainger’s arms, and I could see that she was dying. When I spoke to her she endeavoured to respond. I carried her into the waiting room where she breathed her last. She did not speak. Dr Hayes was in attendance about five minutes afterwards. He pronounced life to be extinct. 

This completed the evidence. The jury returned a verdict of “Death from natural causes,” and was then thanked by the Coroner for their attendance and dismissed.   -Temuka Leader, 14/7/1888.

Temuka Cemetery, NZ.

Betty Wightman, 1918, 19/7/1921.



It is with much regret that we record the death of little Betty Wightman, which took place at her parents’ residence at an early hour on Tuesday morning. Little Betty was the youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs S. B. Wightman, High Street, Temuka, and was a bright, engaging little girl of three and a-half years of age, and had a wide circle of child and adult friends. She was taken ill three months ago, as a result of a fall, and after six weeks relapsed into unconsciousness, and although all that medical skill could suggest was done, and despite the loving attention of her father and mother and many friends, it was unavailing, and the little one passed peacefully away on Tuesday morning. Her untimely death will be regretted by all who knew her. Much sympathy is expressed for her bereaved parents. 

The funeral was a private one, and look place on Thursday morning, being attended by relatives and a few near friends. The service was conducted by the Rev. Mr Scorgie, the bearers being Messrs C. Double, O. McCallum, W. Ritchie, and I. Taylor. Beautiful floral tokens of sympathy were sent by Mr A. N. Hancock, Dr and Mrs Scannell, Mrs Coombes and family, Mrs J. McCaskill and family, Mr and Mrs McGrath, Mr and Mrs Bruce Gillies, Mr and Mrs Methven, Mr and Mrs Hislop, Mr and Mrs Samuels (Christchurch), Mrs Wareing and family, Florrie and Muriel Wareing, Rita Wareing, Mr and Mrs A. G. Watson. Mr J. N. Taylor, Mrs Heap and Mrs McIsaac, Mrs W. D. Taylor (of Waimate), Miss L. Geddes, Miss Peggy Gunnion, Salvation Army Boys’ Home, Mrs Sanders and family, Miss K. Harrison, Mr and Mrs Harrison, Mr and Mrs L. A. Nicholas, Mr and Mrs C. Bales, Mr and Mrs G. Brown (Riverslea).    -Temuka Leader, 23/7/1921.

Temuka Cemetery, NZ.

Sampson Taylor Bates, 1881-2/6/1902.


Bates. — On June 2nd, 1902, at his parents' residence, Temuka, Sampson Taylor, eldest and beloved son of Charles and Alice Bates. Deeply regretted.  -Temuka Leader, 3/6/1902.




TEMUKA. For some days past the residents of Temuka and district, in common with the rest of the inhabitants of New Zealand aye, and in common with all those forming component parts of the great Anglo Saxon race, have been on the qui vive for the long expected and long deterred arrival of the tidings that peace had been proclaimed. Of late most have been hopeful; but how often previously have feelings of exultation and gratitude been widely scattered, and indications at times certainly pointed to the probability of the conference sitting at Vereeniging proving abortive. Yet all have waited expectantly and prepared assiduously to have a "real good time" and fittingly celebrate the grand and good tidings. 

Since Thursday last it had been frequently rumoured that peace was an accomplished fact, and that it had been arranged, to declare it Monday sometime before noon. The reasons mentioned for not proclaiming it before were many: one being that the Home Government wished to stay inopportune celebrations; and another that Monday was chosen in order that the two holidays, the Peace celebration and Prince of Wales' Birthday, follow one another. Be this as it may, it would seem as though for once rumour had in this case not been the "lying jade" she is universally acknowledged to be. 

Monday, therefore, was generally looked upon as the day for the rejoicings to mark the era of peace being once more established within the borders of the Empire, and when the clanging of the firebell was heard at about 10 minutes past 10 yesterday morning there was an immediate rush for the streets, and questioning exhumations of "Is it peace?" were on all lips. 

On the receipt of the wire from the Acting-Premier, Sir J. G. Ward, conveying the glad intimation, Mr P. P. White, the Temuka postmaster, immediatelv rushed to the fire-brigade station and started the vigorous ringing that for some time continued. In accordance with instructions, telegrams containing the message were despatched to the members of both Houses of the Legislature in the district, the mayor, chairmen of local bodies, ministers of the various churches, the chairmen of school committees, etc. 

The message was as follows:

"South African War. It is with intense pleasure that I advise you I have received definite intimation that peace has been declared" (Signed). J. G. Ward. 

Following the fire bell came the chimes of the church bells ringing in unison, and each speaking out the joy felt by all at the fact that at last peace was with us again. 

The townspeople began to assemble near the post office, flags were hoisted, some of the young bloods — and old ones too — armed themselves with gongs, tin cans, etc, and created a din worthy the occasion, and which, as Jerome K. Jerome has it, let off "steam" a 100 per cent, better than ''a real first-class all round swear." Am improvised band was being gathered together, and it was purposed to form a procession (including the children, who came streaming down the road, happy at another holiday) and "do" the town in a style that would live in the memory of the inhabitants of the township as long as life itself. In the distance was to be heard a detonation, and those at the post office thought "They're at it further down the street." 

Little did they know at the time that that explosion was the death moment of one of the brightest and most popular of Temuka's young men. 

All were happy, laughter was on all sides, and preparations were going on apace, when word came to hand that Mr Sampson Bates, a young man of about 20 years of age, had been killed instanteously, while in the act of firing off an improvised cannon manufactured by him to use in celebrating the declaration of peace. With this news becoming known the general tokens of rejoicings gave place to feelings of deep sympathy and sadness.

In the absence of the Mayor, who is away at his farm at Clifton, Mr T. Buxton, Deputy Mayor, convened an informal gathering of members of the Borough Council at his office, to consider what steps should be taken in the matter now that this painfully sad accident had occurred. 

Suitable references were made by those present to the fatality, and the gloom caused thereby. The resolution, on the motion of Councillor J. A. Mc Askill, seconded by Councillor D. Henry, was carried:— "It is proposed that owing to the melancholy accident by which Mr Sampson Bates lost his life while taking part in the peace rejoicings, this Council decides to discontinue any further celebrations today." 

The Deputy Mayor, in supporting the action taken by the Council, said that two at least out of every three spoken to were in favor of no further demonstration being made. Deceased had given his life in attempting to celebrate an Empire's rejoicings, and this fact was more than reason enough to justify the decision arrived at. 

It was resolved the proprietor of the local paper be requested to issue an Extra ordinary containing this intimation. Another resolution was carried as follows: — "That the Deputy Mayor be asked to respectfully request the tradesmen in town to close their places of business during the progress of the funeral of the late Mr S. Bates."

The decision of the Council was made known at an early opportunity, and the remainder of the day in Temuka was passed quietly.   -Temuka Leader 3/6/1902.

The Late Fatal Accident at Temuka.

INQUEST. An inquest was held at the Temuka Courthouse, on Monday last, on the body of the late Sampson Taylor Bates (who met his death by the bursting of an improvised cannon which be was firing off during the peace celebrations), before Captain Wray, coroner, and the following jury: Messrs T. C. Farnie, G. Levens, J. H. Anderson, P. Coira, J. F. Hardey, and D. Henry. Mr Hardey was chosen foreman. After viewing the body the following evidence was taken: 

Samuel Voyce, stable boy, about 16 years of age, working for Mr Wightman, said: I was standing in Mr Wightman’s stable, adjoining Mr Bates’ premises, on Monday forenoon. I heard a loud report in the direction of Mr Bates' place. I looked across and saw deceased fall to the ground. Thought he had fired off his brother’s gun and that he had fallen on purpose. Did not realise that an accident had happened, and went on with my work. Shortly after saw Mr Bates (deceased’s father) go to the spot. Saw him raise deceased’s head and examine it. It then occurred to me that an accident had happened. Did not notice deceased before I saw him fall, and did not know that he was making experiments with a pipe. Saw him come from the back of the house just before the explosion. Knew nothing further about the accident. 

Charles Bates, painter, deposed: I am father of deceased. My son made the gun about two years ago to celebrate the relief of Mafeking. He made the gun out of a piece of galvanised iron pipe. He fired it off at several celebrations many times. I believe it is the same gun he fired on Monday. The fragments produced are the remains of it. Deceased had not fired the gun for some time previously. It had no carriage at the time it was fired. I went to the post office about 10 o’clock on Monday morning, and as I was returning I went into Mr Brown’s shop. I heard the bells ringing for the peace proclamation, and ran out and met Mr Henry, and spoke to him about peace. I returned to my shop, and was in the act of tying up some flags in front of my shop, when I saw Sam come running up from the town and jump over the fence. Was putting up flags when I heard an explosion. Mr Thomson, who was at the end of the verandah said “Sam has let off his gun; you had better go down.” I thought something had happened and rushed into the yard. Found deceased lying flat on his back. Could see that he was badly hurt —pretty well gone — saw the blood rushing from a wound in his neck. Raised his head and called out to some one to go for a doctor, who came a few minutes afterwards. Was always afraid of the gun; had a dread of it and had warned him many times. He always said there was no danger. Should say he had let the gun off twenty times altogether. Don’t know the charge he put into it. When the gun was on a block he used to let it off with a fuse. On this occasion he appeared to have taken fuse off a packet of crackers. Think that in the excitement of letting it off he used a short fuse, or that he had gone to examine it after lighting the fuse. Did not know that he was letting off the gun. 

Dr J. S. Hayes deposed Soon after 10 o’clock on Monday morning I was called to see deceased. Went down at once to Mr Bates’ and found the deceased Sampson Bates lying in the yard. There was a large quantity of blood about, and there was a large wound in the left side of the neck, extending from the front of the windpipe to the back bone. The windpipe, gullet, and veins, and nerves of the neck were severed. There was only a very little oozing of blood when I arrived, life was extinct. There was also a small wound and two or three cuts on the left hand. Deceased’s watch in his vest pocket was shattered to pieces. There were no other marks of the injury on the body. Death was almost instantaneous, caused by the division of the large nerves and blood vessels. The wounds were such as could be caused by pieces of jagged iron forcibly driven by an explosion or the bursting of a pipe, such as the pieces produced. 

The jury returned a verdict that deceased met his death through the bursting of an improvised cannon.  -Temuka Leader, 5/6/1902.

Temuka cemetery, NZ.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Townsend, Ansell and Scarfe - post-mortem eviction at Dunedin's Southern Cemetery.

The New Zealand "Truth" is a now dead weekly which may be familiar to some readers.  Its salacious content made it a publication which many read who did not admit to doing so.  But it was not always salacity for salacity's sake.  In its early days it was a crusader for justice - happily chewing on stories at which the other papers merely nibbled.

In Dunedin, at the end of 1910, it took a big bite.



Burning a Pauper's Remains.

A Case for the Court

There is a storm of no uncertain nature brewing in the Scotchbyterian teapot of dour Dunedin, and when it breaks there are going to be reputations and other thinks broken simultaneously. The people of Dunedin who have dear departed friends and relatives in the little graveyard which occupies a commanding site in Dunedin South have had a rude shock through the disinterring of a cemetery scandal, which wants a lot of explanation. There are rumors of disinterment and burnings of remains and all sorts of atrocities in connection with the South Dunedin cemetery which have just had ventilation through a most atrocious deed, which, if sheeted home, ought to merit a salutary sentence for the conscienceless perpetrator. 

Dunedin's dailies dealt with the matter in veiled terms on Tuesday last, and, to keep in with the powers that be, and the fat subscribers, all names in any of the reports were 

SCRUPULOUSLY SUPPRESSED. "Truth," which tries to live up to its name and generally succeeds, went out, and in spite of extreme reticence on the part of everyone concerned in the matter, managed to get a fairly coherent version of the alleged awfulness. 

It appears that some seven years ago a poor old individual named Townsend, who was one of the joyful and contented inhabitants of the Old Men's Home, did his country the favor of passing in his mess number, and, plus a wooden overcoat, was planted in the Dunedin South cemetery with the usual ceremonies which are given to parties who have slightly less filthy lucre than John D. Rockefeller. Old man Townsend had a lot of company in his last earthly habitation, as he was only three feet under the sod, but old man Townsend couldn't have even 3ft., as he was occupying the wrong patch, so to speak, and was dug up (at least what was left of him) and burned. The cause for old man Townsend's disinterment was that he had the high-flown impertinence to have 

A CONCRETE KERB round his grave, which was put there by mistake and cost 35s, or there-abouts, and was not paid for. The wall ought to have been put around the little plot of a man of the same name but of a different spelling, namely, Townshend, and this was ultimately done. 

Now the relatives of the party who was buried on Monday last, named Ansell, bought old man Townsend's little plot from the Dunedin City Council, which is a godly body and erects prohibition notices on its public reserves. Old man Townsend hadn't paid for his last sleep, so was dug up and turned over to the tender mercies of an amateur crematorium on Saturday last, and with great persistency kept burning until the time of his successor's funeral and to the great discomfort of the parson and the mourners. In fact, the ashes of old man Townsend were

SMOULDERING AND STENCHING some five yards away at the time the Rev. Siggers, of St. Matthew's, was reciting the last offices for the dead. The scene of the horrible occurrence is in the Anglican portion of the cemetery, and that portion is under the control of the Anglican Cemetery Trust. 

Chief 'Tec. Paddy Herbert knew that something was going to happen, and sent up 'Tec. Hunt to see into matters, but, of course, he could do nothing until the funeral was over. Things are moving with much swiftness now, and someone is going to find trouble over the matter, as the removal of a body from a grave without the permission of the Colonial Secretary is a breach of the Cemeteries Act. 

"Truth" knows the names of the responsible parties, and also some other fine facts about the cemetery at Dunedin South, but, as the case is practically sub judice, it would be unwise to comment on the matter. However, one thing is sure: if nothing is done about old man Townsend's desecration, "Truth" will take a hand in the game.  -NZ Truth, 24/12/1910.



Canon Siggers is Smug and Satisfied.

What Will The Board Do?

It is now ten days since the mortal remains of Old Man Townsend were rudely dug up out of his pauper's grave by Sexton Scarfe in the Anglican portion of the Dunedin South cemetery, and nothing has been done towards relieving the public mind by a thorough investigation of the circumstances, and the punishment of the offender against the canons of common decency, if not against the law of the Dominion. The Anglican portion of South, Dunedin cemetery is under the management of a board of Trustees 

COMPOSED MOSTLY OF PARSONS, with a lawyer named C. E. Statham as secretary, and is taking shelter behind the fact that the Cemeteries Act permits of the grave of a pauper being re-sold after the expiration of seven years from the date of burial. Also, in the event of any irregularities taking place in the cemetery, or on the part of its servants, the onus of prosecution lies with the Trustees, not with the police. "Truth" was under the impression that sections 67 and 68 of the Cemeteries Act of 1906 (consolidated statutes) provided a penalty of £50 or 3 months' imprisonment for the removal of a body without the permission of the Colonial Secretary. If this is so, then somebody ought to be prosecuted. 

Anyway, it says very little for the much lauded humanity of the Trustees that they knew of such disinternments taking place, and did not put a stop to them immediately. If the cemetery is full to overcrowding, it is a matter for which provision could have been made years ago, and steps should have been taken to acquire further land in the vicinity of Dunedin. "Truth" here wonders what special privileges the Trustees have got, which allow them to enter within borougrh boundaries. 

All the steps the Trustees have taken are to suspend Sexton Scarfe and take possession of his books and papers, and the suspension cannot count for much, as, on a "Truth" representative's visit some days after the suspension, he was still working in the cemetery. This sounds suspiciously like 

TRYING TO HUSH THE MATTER UP by, on the one hand, satisfying the short-memoried public, and on the other hand, satisfying a servant who is no doubt valuable to a soulless body. 

Canon Curzon-Siggers, who is the owner of the boss Anglican church in Dunedin, admits that he advised the widow of the party who was interred in Old Man Townsend's grave, to allow the funeral, at which he and Parson King officiated to proceed "as the probabilities were that there would be nothing more done." These are the words of this piece of ecclesiastical artillery. Criticism of them would be useless. They show a fine spirit of Christian charity, and yet the reverend gent no doubt preached goodwill to men on Christmas, and will keep on doing it and chiming his bells. The reverend gent., who by-the-bye is one of the Trustees, and that explains a lot, takes great consolation from the fact that there was not enough of Old Man Townsend left to 

FILL A QUARTER OF AN OIL DRUM, nor could anyone have proved they were human bones of any particular portion of the body. This is a very pretty piece of self-justification, and it is eminently parsonical in its way. How would Parson Siggers like the remains of one of his children, if he has any, to be disinterred and burnt? Would it console him to know that there was only a quarter of an oil tin left, or that they couldn't be recognised from those of a dog? "Truth" rather thinks not. Parson Siggers is a rich man, and he would raise Cain and such a tremendous row that every sexton in the cemetery would get short shrift. "Truth" has heard further allegations in connection with this delectable cemetery with which the Dunedin public should be acquainted. Most people with affectionate feelings for their dead are in the habit offering up flowers and shrubs and planting them on the graves, and sextons are paid small sums by the relatives to look after the graves in their spare time. Now, in very numerous instances, these flowers and shrubs have been stolen, and in some cases have been sold outside or to other mourners. Maybe the Board will also let this pass without action. Those who would steal from the dead

ARE SOULLESS RASCALS.  Those who disturb the dead are not much better if as good. "Truth" wants to know what the Trustees are going to do about these things. It has the law at its command. It has the power to take action. Will it simply let things slide?  -NZ Truth, 31/12/1910.

Whatever the trustees did, "Truth" was not a paper to let things slide



Why was He Allowed to Wander? 

A Grave-yard Ghoul — The Tricky Trustees — Their Masterful Inactivity — If Scarfe was Arrested — Some Startling Statements — Revolting Revelations — A Pious Parsonical Party — Smug, Sanctified Body-snatchers — Are the Anglicans Anxious? — A Matter for Mayor Cole — Of Concern to the Council.

It is now three weeks since Sexton Scarfe, who dug up the mortal remains of old man Townsend out of their pauper's grave and re-burned them, shook the dust of Holy Dunedin off his feet and disappeared suddenly. Shortly before Scarfe disappeared it was announced by the daily papers that the Detective Department was going to take action against him under the Crimes Act, and this may possibly have accounted for his disappearance. The proper parties to take action against Scarfe were his employers,  

CANON CURZON-SIGGERS and the other members of the Church of England Cemetery Trustees, under a section of the Cemeteries Act which applies to such a case, but these worthies first suspended Scarfe whilst popular indignation was hot on the matter, then reinstated him when they thought things had quietened down, and finally let him slip through their fingers when the police began to look like business. 

Now, "Truth's" readers might be interested to know what steps the Trustees have taken to find out where Sexton Scarfe has gone to, and perhaps an explanation of the position may show that there is more in the disappearance of Scarfe than meets the eye at the first glance. 

From the police point of view, it is doubtful whether a charge, laid by them under the Crimes Act, would fit the case of Scarfe. The section under which proceedings were threatened provides punishment for any person "committing any indignity" on the dead, and this, it was considered, would be construed to be mutilation or other act of a similar nature. Scarfe's case scarcely comes within that category, and "Truth" is inclined to agree with the poll that proceedings under that section would never reach a jury, and, if they did, would be thrown out. 

The Trustees, on the other hand have a clear case against Scarfe under sections 67 and 68 of the Cemeteries Act, which provide 

A PENALTY OF £50 OR THREE MONTHS for the removal of a body from a grave without the permission of the Colonial Secretary. 

Now the peculiar points about the Act, in its application to Scarfe are: (l) That the Trustees are the only persons who can take action; (2) that proceedings must be taken by way of summons and information; (3) that unless an information is laid within six months of the date of the offence, no subsequent action can be taken. 

What has been the action of this spineless lot of Wowsers? Nothing but a masterly inactivity, which looks suspicious. No information has been laid against Scarfe, and the only step that has been taken is to mildly ask the police to keep a look out for Scarfe. If an information had been laid, it would hold good for all time, even though the summons were not served on Scarfe for years, but all that is done is make a request to the police, which will be worse than useless.

For tke sake of-example, let us suppose that Scarfe was located in Auckland by some energetic constable. What can the constable do? He can merely write to Dunedin and say, "I saw a party here 

WHO LOOKS LIKE SCARFE, but I have no summons for him, a there is no warrant out against him. What do you want with him and what am I to do?" Then the Dunedin police have to run round to tell the Trustees' secretary, if happens to be in, the momentous news. Then the secretary has got to call a meeting of the Trustees and if they should happen by any chance, which "Truth" considers doubtful, to decide to prosecute, by the time the information is laid, the summons issued, and the Auckland police communicated with, Scarfe, warned by his friends, could be at Honolu or 'Frisco, or the South Pole. 

The whole action, or, rather, inaction, of the Trustees is a suspicious farce, intended to throw dust in the eyes of the public, and it is not going to if "Truth" can help it. 

Look at the attitude of this pious push from whatever light the reader will, he cannot fail to conclude that they don't want to see Sexton Scarfe again, and that they hope the police will not see him, and that the public can go to the deuce. 

IF SEXTON SCARFE WAS ARRESTED and tried in open court by a jury of his fellow-men, "Truth" understands that such revelations would be made in connection with the Southern cemetery that would stagger this Dominion with horror and revulsion. "Truth" has given up all hope of the parsons ever taking action on their own initiative, and, as the six months necessary for the information to laid are rapidly passing, it would like to know whether the Anglican community, which delegates its authority to smug, sanctified body-snatchers, is going to force their hands, and compel them to disclose the ghastly secrets of their consecrated bone-yard. In its own interests as a body, if not in the interests of the public as a whole, the Anglican community should do so. What guarantee has it that its own paid-for graves have not been tampered with? How does it know that its own little individual family plot does not contain some unwanted corpse, whose relatives no doubt paid for a plot, but for whom no unoccupied corner could be found? For all it knows, Sexton Scarfe may have burned the remains of one its relatives, just as he burned those of old man Townsend. It is up to the Anglican community to get busy and compell the shedding of a little light on the gruesome darkness.

In parting, "Truth" would also like to know when the City Council is going to close the cemetery. The cemetery is admitted to be packed 

AS FULL AS A SARDINE TIN and, although a portion of it has been closed for burials, yet the Anglican portion is being cheerfully packed tighter every week. Why the privilege should be granted to every special sect, "Truth" cannot see, but there must be a reason. Perhaps Mayor Cole, who is an undertaker and ought to be perfect conversant with these matters, make a statement in answer to the questions at the next meeting of the Council. It certainly would interest the public.  -NZ Truth, 11/2/1911.

Shortly before the preceeding issue of "Truth" was published, Sexton Daniel Scarfe went missing without trace.  The Otago Daily Times reported that the recent trouble at the cemetery had been preying on his mind.

In September of 1912, a man's boot with a sock and portions of a human foot were found in the spoil deposited by the harbour dredge.  The boot was described as a "size 8 box calf Balmoral design with toe plate and O'Sullivans cushion rubber heel."  Sexton Daniel Scarfe was but one of four disappeared men whose boot it might have been

The grave of Charles Townsend, John Robert Ansell, Adelaide Brenchley, Harriet McDermid and George Morris. Burials between 1870 and 1910. DCC photo.