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 deceased well. He was a most reliable and capable man, and had been employed by the department since Noyes 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.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Captain Charles Gray, 1840-8/3/1918.


The death is announced of Mr Charles Gray, of Waiohika, a resident of that district for the past 41 years. The deceased, who had attained the age of 77 years, had been in failing health for some years past, but his demise, which took place at Dunedin on Saturday, came as a painful shock to his many friends. Born in Godmanchester, near Huntingdon, England, in 1840. He was educated at Brighton College. In his early years he displayed a roving disposition, spending eleven years at sea, in the course of which he had many exciting experiences whilst engaged in blockade-running during the American civil war. He traded to various parts of the world, including East Africa, but he was of retiring disposition, and spoke little of his own personal career. Before retiring from the sea, which he did in 1870, he rose to the rank of captain. Engaging with a brother in the pastoral industry in Queensland, the late Mr Gray spent a number of years there, and eventually crossed over to New Zealand and settled down in . Poverty Bay. During his long residence in the district Mr Gray displayed keen interest in public affairs, and held many local official positions. Mr Gray sustained the loss of his first wife in 1880, shortly after their arrival in the district. He subsequently married a daughter of the late Bishop W. L. Williams, of Waiapu. He leaves his wife and family (comprising three daughters and five sons). The daughters include Mrs Blunt (India), Mrs Ormerod (Ruakituri), and Miss Gray. The eldest son Mr L. Gray, is on the Lake Coleridge hydro-electric staff, whilst the second son, Mr D. Camplin Gray, is managing the property at Waiohika, with a younger brother. The third son, Sydney, holds a commission with the Indian Army, and the youngest, Douglas, is a flight-lieutenant with the Royal Flying Corps.  -NZ Times, 14/3/1918.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.

The mention of Douglas being in the Royal Flying Corps is intriguing, and a little further research brought up his story.

Personal Notes
Advice has been received by Mr and Mrs Chas. Gray, of Waiohika, that their son Douglas has been appointed a sub-lieutenant of the Royal Navy Aeroplane Service, and is in training near London. Mr Gray left Gisborne last October to join the flying service.  -Gisborne Times, 2/5/1916.


Reassuring advice has been received by Mr Charles Gray as to the condition of his son, Flight Lieut. Douglas Wankley Gray, who sustained injuries in an aeroplane accident a few days ago. A report from Dr. Alfred Williams, of Epsom, states: "Comfortable in Lincoln hospital. Simple fractures both legs above ankles; small cuts on face. Writes very cheerfully. Progressing well." The following paragraph from an English newspaper received by the last mail refers to Lieut Gray: "Some wonderful flying by a youthful naval airman over Harrow hill which has delighted and thrilled hundreds of people on several occasions, shows more than anything else what our intrepid experts in the air can do, and the immense possibilities of the latest machines. The officer, who lives in Harrow, I believe, is one of England's greatest airmen, and his many friends, not only in Harrow, but further away will wish him the best of luck and success in his special work."   -Poverty Bay Herald, 13/4/1917.

Douglas returned to New Zealand and joined the Canterbury Aviation Company.


CAPTAIN DOUGLAS GRAY, of the Canterbury Aviation Company, who has made several cross-country flights recently, has had a great deal of experience in flying various types of machines. Night flying formed a special part of his duty during the war, and he was engaged in flying new machines across the Channel to France. Captain Gray belongs to Gisborne, and is an Old Boy of Wanganui College.  -Star, 17/9/1920.




The story of the recent flight from Christchurch to Wellington says that the Canterbury Aviation Company’s 110 h.p. Le Rhone Avro was the machine, and she was on her maiden trip, having been recently assembled at the company’s aerodrome at Sockburn. She left Christchurch at 7.28 a.m., in beautiful weather, without a breath of wind. There were a few clouds of very high altitude. They passed over Kaiapoi at 7.32 a.m., and Rangiora at 7.41 a.m., at the ordinary cross-country touring altitude of 2200 ft. They had a view of Pegasus Bay and the Southern Alps from here but it was somewhat discounted by the strong reflection of. the sun from the sea. The machine passed over Amberley at 7.45 a.m., and Waipara at 7.50.

The sun became very strong, facing the pilot’s eyes, and Captain Gray then went to sea, and then hugged the coast at an altitude of 3000 ft. They were now some seventy miles from Christchurch, and the visibility became so good that the aviators could distinctly see the houses on the Port hills at Christchurch and the pier at New Brighton. They passed Motanau at 8.5 a.m. and Parnassus shortly after. Approaching the Waiau river, the altimeter showed 5400 feet, and they passed over the Conway river-bed at 8.26 a.m. Nearing the seaward Kaikouras, the aviators experienced the icy cold blast from the snow-capped peaks, and for a short period the flying conditions wore rather “bumpy.” Kaikoura came into view rather suddenly, and no difficulty was experienced in picking up the ploughed circle, indicating one of the Canterbury Aviation Company’s landing grounds. 

THE FIRST LANDING. The first landing was made at Mr Frank Bullen's station “The Elms,” at 8.55 a.m. Mr Bullen and his family and a few settlers came across and met them in motors, and in a few minutes had the billy boiling. The aviators were given hot tea and refreshments, and much appreciated the attention, after their cold trip. They left again at 9.48 a.m., and reached a height of 4000 feet, continuing to hug the coast. About twelve miles north of Kaikoura, well out to sea, they saw what appeared to be a large steamer making north. 

CALL AT BLENHEIM. To the left, there was a perfect unobstructed view of the whole formation of the South Island. The visibility was exceptionally good. They passed over Ward, Seddon, and the other intermediate small towns, and then circled over Blenheim, where they picked out the new hangar erected by the Marlborough citiezns for the Canterbury Aviation Co., and landed without mishap at 10.45 a.m. A number of people turned out to greet them. Leaving Blenheim at 11.30 a.m., they flew in the direction of Tory Channel, until they reached an altitude of 7000 feet. It was necessary to fly at this great height so that, in case of a breakdown crossing the straits, they could glide to Wellington. Leaving the mainland, the aviators got a wonderful view of the Sounds, whose green waters showed in striking contrast to the blue waters of the ocean. The actual crossing occupied 26 minutes. Cape Terawhiti was passed a couple of minutes before twelve. One of the aviators described the lighthouse at Tom’s Rock as like a wooden match in a pond. For the first time a breeze was experienced crossing to Wellington, but beyond making the going a little “bumpy,” it had not any effect on their progress. 

MACHINE BEHAVES WELL. Passing over the land, Captain Gray slowed his engine, and allowed the machine to glide. Over Newtown, he executed a series of evolutions, then straightened out, and proceeded across Somes Island to the Hutt Park, where they were greeted by the caretaker and his wife. The flying distances were as follows: Christchurch to Kaikoura, 150 miles; Kaikoura to Blenheim, 97 miles; Blenheim to Wellington, 40 miles; total, 287 miles. Thanks to the excellent “tuning” the machine received from the mechanic, she flew on her very best behaviour.  -Gisborne Times, 20/9/1920.

Douglas Gray.  Photo from the Online Cenotaph.

Gray's services with the CAC included charter flights, joy-riding, flight instruction and, as mentioned below in a story of the Waimakariri River in flood in 1920, reconaissance.


A fine view of the flooded river was obtained this morning from the cockpit of an Avro aeroplane, piloted by Captain Douglas Gray. Leaving the aerodrome at about 9.30 a.m., with Mrs G. E. Rhodes and Miss Shona Rhodes as passengers, the machine was out for about thirty-five minutes, flying over Belfast and the bridges towards Kaiapoi. Pilot and passengers reported a very wonderful sight. The Waimakariri river, running very strongly, extended from bank, to bank, and had gone over the bank to the north-west of Belfast, and also on the northern side of the river opposite Belfast, flooding many paddocks. The stream had flooded islands in the riverbed, and only the tree tops could be seen in several places.  -Star, 26/11/1920.

An aeroplane owned by the Canterbury Aviation Company, with Captain Douglas Gray as pilot, flew over Dunedin at mid-day on Friday on its way to Mr Walter Blackie's farm at the Taieri. This machine was somewhat unfortunate. The pilot was not expected until Saturday morning, and a number of cattle which were grazing in the paddock selected for the landing had not been removed. As the machine descended the cattle became very excited, and one beast got m a position where neither Captain Gray nor his companion could see it, with a result that one of the wings of the 'plane came into contact with it. The under-carriage was damaged somewhat, and passenger flights could not be carried out. Captain Gray and his mechanic (Mr J. E. Moore) returned to Christchurch by rail for another machine. Flying in another machine, Captain Gray and Mr Moore left Christchurch at 7.30 yesterday morning with Mrs J. E. Moore as passenger. It arrived in Ashburton at 8 a.m. It was seen flying at a low altitude over the town, and then proceeded direct to Oamaru, where a supply of petrol was taken in. The journey was then continued to Dunedin.  -Ashburton Guardian, 10/1/1921.

The engagement is announced of Miss Emma Hall, only daughter of Mr and Mrs Wilfred Hall, of Glenroy, Canterbury, to Captain Douglas Gray, youngest son of Mrs and the late Mr Chas. Gray, Waiohika, Gisborne.   -Gisborne Times, 18/6/1921.

After Emma and Douglas married in February, 1923, the name "Douglas Graham" is no longer associated with aviation.  Perhaps it was a promise made by husband to wife, as flying was not a safe way to make a living in those days.  They farmed at Pongaroa in the Northern Wairarapa.  Their eldest son, Charles Roderick, joined the Air Force in 1943 and was killed in a mid-air collision between his and another Harvard trainer plane on a training flight practising air-to-air combat.  Douglas died of a heart attack in 1969.

From "the Harvard pile," in "Wings over New Zealand:"

Sat 4 Aug 1945 NEW ZEALAND Air-air practice attacks 2 Operational Training Unit, RNZAF (Ohakea) Harvard IIA NZ1035 - on a diving pass at 0930 the port wing struck the tail of the target aircraft (NZ1048). The latter’s tail disintegrated, the aircraft spiralling into the ground on Mr Dalrymple’s farm at Parewanui, SW of Ohakea, where it burst into flames. With part of its port wing sheered off, NZ1035 entered a shallow spiral, recovered momentarily, then flicked over and crashed about 1000 yards away on the same property. The pilot is buried at Christchurch. Pilot: NZ4313159 Sgt Charles Roderick GRAY, RNZAF - Age 20. 138hrs solo (85 on Harvard) Gray’s father, Douglas Wanklyn Gray, was a First World War pilot who served in the RNAS and RAF, and, for a short time afterwards, the Canterbury (NZ) Aviation Company

George Miller, 1850-23/3/1870


At the Prince Alfred Hotel, Great King street, this afternoon, Mr Hocken, City Coroner, and a jury, held an inquiry touching the death of George Miller, reported in our last night’s issue. The following evidence was given; 

Alexander Cowie stated; I know the deceased, who was about 18 or 19 years of age; he was a printer, and worked at Ferguson and Mitchell’s. The deceased, myself, and five others agreed to go kaka shooting on Tuesday evening. We left town at about eleven o’clock, reaching a hut on Pine Hill about two o’clock the next morning. We waited until daylight, and then agreed to separate in parties of two, with the exception of one who was to remain in the hut. Before this they had their guns loaded, with the exception of mine. At the time the accident happened, three of us were with deceased. He was standing, leaning on his gun, with the butt on the ground. The hammer was down on the cap. I did not think it could have been at half-cock, or I would have noticed it. Suddenly I saw a flash, the gun went off, the contents, as I thought, lodging in his face. He fell immediately. As I fan forward to his assistance, the blood spurted from his mouth. I called on some of the others to get water; and we bathed his face. He kicked; but appeared to be quite insensible. Noticing that his face became discolored, I and another determined to start for town for medical assistant. On our way down, we called up a German settler, and informed him of the accident. We called on Dr Burns, and informed deceased’s father of the accident. The gun was loaded about ten minutes before the accident. Deceased was well acquainted with the use of the gun, he being a volunteer. He was in the habit of leaning over the muzzle of his gun. [The gun was here produced, and it was explained, for a small gun the spring of the hammer was unusually strong.] Deceased’s foot was not against the trigger. He was standing a short distance from a fire we lighted. I don’t think there was any loose powder about, he died just as we left for town. There was no “larking” going on when the accident happened. 

Murdoch Macgregor stated that the deceased always carried the gun with the hammer down; he had used the gun for the last two years. Witness heard the report of the gun, and saw the deceased stumble at almost the same time. The hammer was turned towards the deceased, and witness believed the cause of the gun going off was simply pressure on the cap. None of the party drank other than tea and coffee during the time they were out. 

Dr Burns stated that, from the position of the wound, he would say that the deceased’s face inclined much forward. He thought some of the shots entered the brain. 

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.''  -Evening Star, 24/3/1870.


MR GEORGE MILLER respectfully invites the Friends of his late son to follow his remains to the Cemetery, the Funeral to move from the Prince Alfred Hotel, Great King street, to-morrow (Sunday), at 3 o'clock.

J. R. SPICER, Undertaker, George street, near Red House.   -Otago Daily Times, 26/3/1870.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.