Friday, 29 April 2022

Alfred Tennyson Moss, 1892-1/12/1913.


young man killed.

A fatal accident occurred about 10 minutes past 5 yesterday afternoon opposite the George Street School, when a young man named Alfred Tennyson Moss, who was riding a bicycle, collided with a tramcar and received terrible injuries, from which he died. 

Car No. 24 left the Gardens hound for St. Clair at 5.6 p.m., and after leaving Duke street the motorman saw a cyclist coming in the opposite direction. It is stated that when about one and a-half car lengths away the cyclist left his proper side of the road and swerved on to the other tram track, evidently with the intention of giving a motor cycle and side car coming behind him a clear passage. He had, however, failed to recognise that a tramcar was bearing down on him, and did not hear the warning gong. The motorman applied the brakes, and in the last second the cyclist seemed cognisant of his danger, for he made an attempt to swing clear. His effort proved futile, and the bicycle wobbling, he rode into the lefthand corner of the car, and was flung violently to the ground, receiving injuries which rendered him unconscious. 

These are the facts of the fatality as investigated by the tramway authorities, and they are borne out by the statements of independent witnesses, who assert that it would have been impossible for the motorman to avoid the accident. The ambulance was sent, for, and the injured man taken to the Hospital, but he died snoitly after admission. 

Deceased was a foreman in the employ of Coopers, Ltd., and had been working on a job at Anderson Bay. He was only about 22 years of age, and resided with his widowed mother in Frame sheet, North-east Valley.

Deceased's most serious injury appeal’s to have been a fracture of the skull. The inquest will probably be held to-morrow.  -Evening Star, 2/12/1913.


MOSS. — On December 1, at Dunedin Hospital (accidentally), Alfred Tennyson, youngest son of the late E. M. Moss, Portobello; aged 21 years Deeply mourned.  -Otago Daily Times, 3/12/1913.

Portobello Cemetery.

Friday, 22 April 2022

8/3365 Private Kenneth Morrison, MM, 26/12/1885-27/7/1923.

Mr R. Morrison, Crosby street, Morningtoh, has been advised by the Defence Minister that his son, Kenneth Morrison, has been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry on the field of action. Private Morrison left the dominion with the 8th Reinforcements.  -Otago Daily Times, 22/12/1917.

Kenneth Morrison won his MM on the darkest day for the Otago Regiment - October 12, 1917.  The citation for his award reads as follows: "At 7am on 12th October 1917, during the attack on the Bellevue Spur, Private Morrison, a Battalion runner in the forward party carried out his work fearlessly under the most dangerous and adverse circumstances. By his courage and determination, he struggled through a terrific barrage of machine-gun and shell fire right from the forward line to the Headquarters of the Battalion. Although nearly exhausted by the rough and marshy ground across which he had to rush, he stuck to his task and delivered safely at its destination a message of vital importance to the conduct of operations. Immediately afterwards, moreover, he cheerfully returned to the forward line, almost at the enemy’s wire, with orders for the troops there." 

Kenneth's luck ran out the next year - or so it seemed.  He received a serious gunshot wound in his left forearm during a furious part of the German's attack on Otago's trenches as part of their Spring Offensive.  While under treatment in hospital he was found to have tuberculosis.  His wound might have saved his life with an early diagnosis - he survived both wound and TB and went home early in 1919.

While shunting Kenneth Morrison, aged thirty-six years, fell off a truck and was run over by the engine. Both legs were fractured, and almost severed. His condition is serious. — Hamilton Press Association telegram.  -Evening Star, 27/7/1923.


MORRISON. — On the 27th July, 1923, Kenneth Morrison, aged 36 years, killed by accident, at Franklyn Junction, beloved brother of Mrs. J. Dawson, Roseneath. Interment at Dunedin.   -Evening Post, 28/7/1923.




The inquest into the death of the railway porter, Kenneth Morrison, who died yesterday afternoon as the result of injuries sustained through being run over by a line of trucks at Claudelands railway station earlier in the day, was opened before the District Coroner, Mr H. A. Young, this morning.

Formal evidence of identification was given by another railway employee, H. A. Campbell. 

Dr. Gower, medical superintendent at the hospital, gave evidence of deceased having been admitted to the institution at 8.50 a.m. He had a compound fracture of the right leg and fracture of the left leg, while he was suffering severely from shock. First aid treatment had been given Morrison prior to admission, and at the hospital he was treated for shock. After a few hours his condition showed a slight improvement, and the portions of the limbs that were hanging by the skin were removed. Deceased was conscious, but it was not considered advisable to question him. Later he took a turn for the worse, and died at 1.40 p.m. 

The inquiry was then adjourned until Wednesday.  -Waikato Times, 28/7/1923.



The first portion of the funeral of the late Kenneth Morrison, who was killed while shunting at the Claudelands railway yards on Friday, was held in Hamilton yesterday. Over 300 railway employees took part in the cortege, which left Messrs Hudner Bros.' premises for the Frankton railway station, where a Presbyterian service was conducted by Rev. Macdonald Aspland. The wreaths, which included a beautiful one from the Railway Service, were handsome and numerous, testifying to the esteem in which deceased was held. The pallbearers numbered six, two from the Returned Soldiers' Association — Major Whyte and Mr H. C. Morris — and one from each branch of the Railway Service — Messrs H. B. Taylor (R.O.I.), Beau Smith (E.F.G.A.), M. Crossan and J Flett (members of the Frankton Junction shunting staff). The body was conveyed South last evening by the Main Trunk express, on the way to Dunedin, where it is to be interred.  -Waikato Times, 30/7/1923.


The remains of Mr Kenneth Morrison, who died as the result of shocking injuries received while engaged in shunting operations at Claudelands, Hamilton, last Friday, were interred in the Anderson’s Bay Cemetery on Wednesday. Mr Morrison was a native of Dunedin, and had resided with his parents at Crosby street, Mornington, till he left for the North Island a few years ago. He served his apprenticeship as a painter with Messrs James Wren and Co., and subsequently joined the railway service. He was 28 years of age, and was the fifth son of Mr and Mrs Morrison. He went to the war in the Eighth Reinforcements, won the M.M. at Passchendaele. and was wounded at the Somme shortly after. His eldest brother John died of wounds in France on July 13, 1916, another brother, Neil, who went with the Seventh Reinforcements, was badly wounded in the right arm, and a fourth brother, William, came through unscathed. The deceased was a keen footballer, and played for some seasons with the Kaikorai Football Club’s team.  -Otago Daily Times, 3/8/1923.

Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

22184 Corporal William Alexander Brown, 14/7/1883-12/10/1917.

In Dunedin's Southern Cemetery is something rare in the way of epitaphs, and a very familiar date.  On October 12, 1917, the men of the Otago Regiment - and others - were sent through knee-deep mud where once there was a creek and up to Bellevue Spur where the German Army had built concrete pillboxes for their machine guns and placed barbed wire around them against just such an attack.

Usually the wire and concrete would be demolished as much as possible by artillery before an attack.  But the mud delayed the guns' arrival and many of those that were in place on the morning of the 12th had no solid platforms and had to be aimed after each shell fired.  Many of their shells fell on the men of the Otagos before they left their trenches.  When they left to cross the mud and assault the ridge the German fortifications were barely touched.  It was a criminal massacre.  More than 300 Otago men lost their lives that day or died of their wounds in the days following.  Their story is exemplified by that of William Alexander Brown.


On Saturday morning the staff of Messrs J. Rattray and Son, Ltd., assembled in force to say goodbye and make a presentation to one of their number, Mr W. A. Brown, who has enlisted for active service at the front. The presentation was made by the manager, Mr Maclean, who referred to Mr Brown’s excellent record and the energy, zeal and ability displayed by him during his career as the Company’s country representative in Southland. On behalf of the staff he handed Mr Brown a silver wristlet watch, appropriately inscribed, and a Loewe pipe, as tokens of the goodwill and esteem in which he was held by his fellow employees. In responding, Mr Brown said he hoped his successor, Mr Wood, would derive as much pleasure from his association with the Company as he himself did. Mr Brown leaves on Thursday with the 16th Reinforcements.   -Southland Times, 3/5/1916.

A GROUP OF SERGEANTS IN THE EIGHTEENTH REINFORCEMENTS. From left (standing): Sergeants W. A. Brown, G. Blythe, B. McGregor, and W. Grieve. Sitting: Sergeants A. Devlin and A. Peterson.  -Otago Witness, 29/11/1916.



Sergeant W. A. Brown, late of Messrs Rattray and Son, Invercargill, writes: — 

What a surprise the voyage from New Zealand has been to most of us, who, thinking we were making some sacrifice and under the necessity of many inconveniences, find that we struck a real joy ride and conditions are greatly superior to what we expected. First of all, the Reveille is sounded at 6 a.m., when we spring to it and make for the bath room; and owing to limited accommodation for such a number of troops, it is wise to get there early. We each have an allowance of fresh water measured out to us to wash in, and a plentiful supply of hot and cold salt water for the baths. After the morning bath, we get our shaving water and return to cabin to shave and tidy our bunks according to regulations, and, taking plate, pannikin, knife, fork and spoon, get upon deck ready to be marched down to the mess room.

Each company has a certain part of the ship allotted to it as a parade deck, and our company has the port side of the boat deck. Here we squat down and wait for the sergeant's order to "Fall in,” when the roll is called, and on the ship’s bugler sounding “Come to cookhouse door” at 6.45 a.m., we march down to the mess room.

There are two mess rooms on the ..... the aft and for'ard, the former accommodating 250 and the latter 350. In the aft mess room there is only one relay and in the for’ard we have two relays, the first at 6.45, the second at 7.30 a.m., each of certain companies taking week about at first and second relay. The for’ard mess room has 21 long tables, some seating 22 men, others 18 and have two mess orderlies waiting at each table. These men go down half an hour before mess time and place the sugar, salt, pepper, jam and butter on the tables. Then, just on time, they get a big dish of sausages, stew, apples and rice, apricot and sago or whatever may be on for the particular meal, ready to serve out to the men when all are seated. The din at first is deafening, such a clatter of plates and mugs and a jingo of voices, some expressing their likes and dislikes, what they want and what they don’t want with a little variation in the way of barrack. When all are served the noise ceases until the washing-up commences, each man washing and drying his own dishes, using tin of hot water and towel placed at end of each table. We then wander up on deck to smoke the pipe of peace and bask in the morning sunshine, write, play cards, read or play quoits, until 9.30 a.m., when the “fall in” goes. 

After the sergeant has called the roll, the officer reads out routine orders containing any instructions to be carried out on board, then we have three-quarters of an hour at physical drill and three-quarters of an hour at either musketry or semaphore signalling, which is more of a pleasure than otherwise. At 11 a.m. we are dismissed and can carry on at cards, quoits, photo printing, etc., until mid-day, when lunch takes place. The “Come to Parade” is sounded at 2 p.m. and we have more physical drill, musketry or signalling till 3.30 p.m., when the day’s drill is finished, unless the syren goes for boat drill, as it often does when least expected. On the first sounding we all make for cabins and put on life-belts. On the second sounding we leave cabins and make for part of dock opposite the life-boat which has been allotted us. On the third sounding, the officer in charge of life-boat calls the roll, and on fourth syren, we are dismissed. After 3.30 p.m., there is usually some keen boxing going on and all are settled down to some amusement. The last meal of the day takes place at 5 p.m., and is generally tip-top. 

After dinner the band plays on the aft part of deck where there is always a crowd assembled to hear a few selections, finishing up with "God Save the King,” at 7.30 p.m. Then there may be a concert on deck or in the mess rooms, and there is no lack of talent, singers, musicians, reciters and dancers, etc., or perhaps a card tournament and the usual means of recreation fill the evening till 8.30 when “Tattoo” sounds the warning for bed, and "Lights out” goes at 9.15 p.m. 

Besides all regular parade duties, there are fatigues, some permanent fatigues in which the men all do their share, turn and turn about, nearly 50 per cent, being necessary out of each company for orderlies, ship’s police, sanitary police, pantrymen, cooks and dormitory work. For instance, the dormitory fatigues clean up the dormitories where the men sleep and need to make a very thorough job of it. Each morning, except Sunday, commencing at 10 a.m., the captain of the ship, the adjutant, and orderly officer make a tour of inspection. They carry electric torches, and every nook and comer is carefully searched. Coming on an untidy bunk, the owner’s name is taken and he is on the mat, ultimately chasing the C.B. call. The fatigues do not go on parade and when their work is done may be seen on the aft deck reading, etc. 

Each company takes its turn as unit for duty, when all the men of the unit are kept busy carrying provisions, washing decks, cleaning brass, life-buoy guards, etc., and as there are only six companies on board, these duties come round every six days. Then washing day takes place once a week when every three men get a tub, small piece of soap and a bucketful of water, in which to do their washing, only one platoon washing at a time. The clothes arc then hung out to dry on the aft lower dock. On Sundays at 10 a.m. we have Church Parade, the Protestant service being conducted in the mess room, the Roman Catholic in the saloon, and a voluntary service is held at 7.30 p.m. either on deck or in the mess room. For those interested in Bible study or willing to learn, a Bible class is held two nights a week, and has a very good attendance.

Near the aft deck we have the canteen where we can purchase soft drinks, tobacco, tinned fruit, lollies, etc., and there is big business done at times, the soft drinks and tinned fruit getting a great run in warm weather.

Truly we are well catered and cared for, and are sure to land in England healthy and in good heart, ready to do our bit and put some ginger into it too. The associations and good fellowship are indeed healthy, the man who plays the game being the strong man in this life. Knocking around in our shorts, legs and faces well browned, we are as happy as school boys on holiday, for verily we are Bill Massey's tourists.  -Southland Times, 19/3/1917.



Word has been received of the death in action of Corp. W. A. (Tiger) Brown, who for a considerable time represented Messrs' Rattray and Co. in Otago and Southland. He was born in Dunedin 34 years ago, and after occupying various positions with the Company in that city came south. Corporal Brown, who was a brother of Mrs Pasley (Wallacetown), went away with the 16th Reinforcements as Sergeant, and was reduced to the ranks upon arrival at the front, in accordance with the usual procedure. He has taken part in all the big movements made by the N.Z. Division, and up to the time of his death had escaped untouched. Corporal Brown represented Rattray and Co. in Southland for five years, and virtually laid the foundation of the firm’s country business. He was highly esteemed both by his associates and clients, and before leaving for the front was prominent in all the Southland Travellers’ war activities. At a meeting of the Travellers held on Saturday evening the chairman made reference to Corporal Brown’s death, and asked all those present to stand in silence as a mark of respect for one who had made the supreme sacrifice.   -Southland Times, 5/11/1917.

Particulars have just come to hand from Lieutenant Thompson, of Balclutha, regarding the manner in which Private W. A. Brown met his death at Passchendaele Ridge. It appears that Private Brown and a mate were in a shell hole, and in another shell hole was Corporal Hardy. Hardy was wounded and Private Brown went to his assistance, and after helping him returned to his orginal cover. Hardy called out again for assistance, and although remonstrated with for the great risk he ran, Brown immediately started to go to his corporal, and was shot through the back, expiring irnmediately. Private Brown was well known throughout Otago and Southland as a commercial traveller when he enlisted.  -Otago Daily Times, 16/4/1918.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.

Monday, 18 April 2022

George Frederick John Townsend, 28/3/1826-6/12/1883.


A fatal accident occurred to George Townsend, driver on the Castle street tramway, about noon to-day. It appears that he stopped his car opposite the stables, in Cumberland street, intending to run over there for something, and just as he stepped off the platform the horses started. In attempting to stop them he slipped and fell, and a front wheel of the car passed over his body. He retained hold of the reins and was dragged while he was between the wheels for some distance. He was at once conveyed to the Hospital, where he died at 2.40 p.m. The deceased (who was about fifty years of age) and his two sons have been in the tramway employ for some considerable time.  -Evening Star, 6/12/1883.

Horse tram on the St Kilda line, Dunedin, 1888.  Hocken Library photo.


An inquest was held at the Hospital at noon to-day before Mr Coroner Hocken and a jury touching the death of George Frederick John Townsend. 

The Coroner said that the deceased’s death was presumably the result of accident. The sole point of the inquiry was to determine whether deceased, being an old man, was a fit person to discharge the duties of driver on the Castle street line alone. 

Edward Townsend stated that the deceased was his father. He was fifty-five years of age, a native of Pimlico, married, and of the Anglican persuasion. For the greater portion of his life deceased had been a hotelkeeper. He had been driving the Castle street car for the last three months. He took a glass of drink  occasionally. He was sole driver on that line, his hours being from 7 a.m. till 8 p.m. He was in good health, and never complained that the work was too much for him. 

Charles G. Hammer was a passenger in the tram-car at the time of the accident. There was also a lady passenger, and she called his attention to the fact that the driver was unsteady and the worse for liquor. This lady was in the car before witness got in, and she said she was glad he had got in, as she was trembling with fear. Witness observed the driver, who seemed to be unsteady, rolling about a little, though able to drive. When nearing Cumberland street witness felt that the car was leaving the line. The female passenger had got out before this. He turned round, and missing the driver, at once jumped out and went to the horses’ heads. They stopped immediately, and witness found that deceased was lying under the car. The two front wheels had passed over him. Witness called for help, and deceased was removed from under the car. Witness was of opinion that deceased slipped off the car and retained possession of the reins. He had ridden in the car almost daily, and had seen deceased unsteady, but not to such an extent as he was yesterday.

Charles Banwell, who witnessed the accident, gave evidence that he assisted to remove deceased from under the car. Witness was of opinion that deceased fell over the splashboard, and that the front wheel passed over him. 

Dr Davis, house surgeon at the Dunedin Hospital, stated that when deceased was received into the place shortly after noon yesterday he was suffering from severe internal injuries. He was in a state of great collapse, and died soon afterwards. 

John Craig, traffic manager on the Dunedin and suburban tramways, stated that the deceased had been fourteen or fifteen months in the tramway employ. He had been engaged driver of the Castle street car for six or seven months. Witness knew him to he slightly addicted to drink, but consisted him safe enough to be entrusted with the management of a tramcar. 

The Coroner: You see from the evidence, especially from the remark made by the lady, that there was some cause for fear. 

Witness: The manager of the stable department informed witness a little after eleven yesterday morning that deceased was a little the worse for liquor, and he accused him of it, but deceased denied it, Witness gave instructions that another driver was to take his place, and this would have been done directly the car reached the monument at noon.

The Coroner: It is satisfactory to know that you took that precaution. Have you known of any other dereliction of the sort? 

Witness: The deceased was once very slightly the worse for drink six or seven months ago, and witness suspended him. 

The Coroner: Do you not think the duties of driver on that line too much for one man? 

Witness did not think so. He was relieved at mid-day for a little over an hour; the duties were very light, and special care was taken that quiet horses were put on that line. 

The Coroner said that there could be no doubt that the accident was occasioned by the deceased’s own intoxication at the time. As regarded the subsidiary question whether the work was too much for one man, the jury were quite empowered to express an opinion. It did not appear to him that the work was too much. They all knew what the traffic was on that line; the drive was a quite steady one, and there was a rest at each end. He did not think that overwork could have contributed to the accident, especially as it occurred in the middle of the day. 

The jury found that the deceased met his death by accident, accelerated by drink, They were of opinion that no blame attached to the tramway authorities.  -Evening Star, 7/12/1883.

Northern Cemetery, Dunedin.

William "Moody" Campbell, 1865-8/4/1895.



[By The Admiral.] First Day — Thursday. Though the weather was superb the attendance at the Oamaru racecourse was not up to the average of last year’s opening day of the autumn meeting, and, as the walking “totes” were allowed open play, the investments through the medium of the machine showed a decided shrinkage. All went merrily til a late hour in the day, when an unfortunate contretemps occurred in the Novel Race, which led to severe injuries being sustained by the rider of Hydroline, and the concluding event resulted in a protest for dark riding being entered, the consideration of which was held over till the following morning. 

The Novel Race, of 25 sovs, five furlongs, was considered a good thing for Langley, and so it proved to be, for, jumping off with the lead, he retained it to the finish. The dividend was £2 4s, and, on being brought under the hammer, Mr Longfellow was only able to retain his horse at a bid of £25. After a couple of furlongs had been traversed Hydroline slipped, and before Moody Campbell, her rider, had time to extricate himself he was trampled on by one of the back division. Marguerite, too, was brought down by the mishap, but Harding escaped without injury. It was found that Campbell had received concussion of the brain, and after examination by Dr Garland his removal to town was ordered.  -Evening Star, 5/4/1895.

An Injured Jockey. 

OAMARU, April 5. Campbell, who was injured at the races yesterday, is still unconscious, but slightly better. He sustained concussion of the brain and a broken collar-bone.  -South Canterbury Times, 5/4/1895.

Drs Garland and de Lautour visited the boy Moody Campbell, who was injured at the races, at the Globe Hotel last night, and reported no improvement in the unfortunate lad's condition. His collarbone was broken and he has suffered concussion of the brain, and is still unconscious.   -North Otago Times, 6/4/1895.



[By The Admiral.] Foresight won a double at North Canterbury on Thursday. He did the same trick at this gathering eighteen months ago, and then came out and won three races at the C.J.C. spring meeting. Foresight is engaged at Riccarton next week. An Oamaru wire states that Moody Campbell, the jockey, died at three o’clock this morning, never having regained consciousness after the accident on Thursday in the Novel Race. Campbell, it will be recollected, was riding Hydroline, when the horse fell and he was trampled on, concussion of the brain and a broken collar-bone being the injuries sustained. The deceased received a broken collar-bone when Red and Black, on whom he had the mount, fell on the Hutt racecourse a couple of months ago.  -South Canterbury Times, 8/4/1895.

The body of the deceased jockey William (" Moody") Campbell was brought to Dunedin last night by J. Loughlin, who remained with the poor fellow till his death, and the funeral will take place to-morrow. Several wreaths have been sent, including one from the North Otago Jockey Club.   -Evening Star, 9/4/1895.


Friends of the late Mr William J L (Moody) Campbell are respectfully invited to attend his Funeral, which will leave Hutton's Hotel, St. Kilda, for the Northern Cemetery, TO-MORROW (Wednesday), the 10th inst., at 2 p.m. 

HUGH GOURLEY, Undertaker, Clarke and Maclaggan streets.  -Evening Star, 9/4/1895.

Northern Cemetery, Dunedin.


Wednesday, 13 April 2022

411510 Squadron Leader George Christopher Nevill Johnson, 1913-17/1/1953.

George Johnson was born in Canada, lived with his parents in the UK until his teens then travelled with them to New Zealand.  He graduated from Otago University with an MA with Honours in 1935 and began a career in teaching.  He also began to explore the closer patrs of New Zealand's Southern Alps.

FLIGHT ACROSS THE SOUTHERN ALPS. — Messrs A. J. Scott (Christchurch) and G. C. N. Johnson (Dunedin), who made a first ascent of Mount Fettes (left) recently with Mr R. S Russell (Dunedin) crossed the Southern Alps from Waiho Gorge to Simon's Pass on Saturday in an aeroplane flown by Mr J.C. Meuer. RIGHT (above). Mounts Sefton (left), La Perouse and Cook (right), photographed from an altitude of 11,000 ft. Below: A snapshot of Messrs Scott and Johnson at Waiho Gorge.  -Press, 15/1/1935.





Three members of the New Zealand Alpine Club arrived at Waiho Gorge last Friday from the Hermitage, after having made the first ascent of Mount Feltes, on the Hooker Range, South Westland, the first crossing of the Sierra Range from the Twin River to the Copland Valley. 

Messrs. A. J. Scott (Christchurch), R. S. Russell and G. C. N. Johnson (Dunedin) left the Hermitage for the Mueller Hut on December 23, intending to make a round trip over four passes, returning to the Hermitage three weeks later. Bad weather caused a delay, but on January 4 Mount Feltes (8092 ft.) was climbed. Next day the Douglas Pass (about 5250 ft.) was crossed, and on January 6 Mount Howitt was ascended. 

The next stage of the journey was over unknown country, but from data obtained it seemed that the difference in altitude between the camp in the Twain and the summit of the Sierra range above was less than 2000 ft., which the party was confident could be tackled in any weather. Rain fell during the night, but the journey had to be proceeded with in the morning, as food would be short if the cache were not reached that evening. 

Fortunate Escape For two hours the going was not difficult but when 2000 ft. had been climbed and the slopes were still grass and rock, it was realised that some serious miscalculation had been made. By this time the weather was very bad, heavy rain making poor visibility. The route taken was believed to lead to the Wicks glacier, and it was with some relief that this was eventually gained. 

All the men were soaked to the skin and an anxious party trudged hour after hour up the glacier, threading their way through a maze of crevasses which could have been avoided altogether in clear weather. In addition to the rain, a howling gale was blowing, and a gust at a critical moment blew one man into a crevasse. Fortunately he was securely anchored by the others and was hauled out with nothing more serious than a few bruises. 

Several hours of slow progress elapsed before the crest of the range was gained at an altitude of 7400 ft. From this point it was thought that another two and a-half hours easy travelling would lead to the pass descending the Copland Valley. 

Stores Not Left as Arranged Several minor peaks were skirted and others traversed by mistake. It was known that the desired pass lay just beyond Scott's Peak, and, to avoid the possibility of missing it, it was decided to keep along the tops, although this was exhausting work. Repeatedly the gale blew the men off their feet, and the heavy packs and soft snow made the trip a memorable one. 

At an altitude of 8000 ft., a summit was traversed and half an hour later it was realised that it was Scott's Peak. Having crossed the pass and losing altitude with every step, the climbers knew they were safe and pressed on eagerly for the camp site 2000 ft. below. This was reached at 6 p.m., and in a few minutes the cave was located where the stores were to have been cached. But the cave was empty. 

Fortunately some emergency rations were carried, and a hot meal was prepared in the cave, where the night was spent. The men had been wet through for nearly 12 hours and had only five dry garments among them. It had been intended to camp there for a week, this being the base for climbing Mount Sefton, but because of the non-arrival of stores it was necessary to amend the programme. 

Another Accident Occurs The descent to the valley is by a 1500 ft. scree, thence by a track through the bush. At the foot of the scree a long search failed to locate the track, and a route had to be forced down a creek, alternating with dense bush. With bulky packs this was exhausting work, and the possibility of a night out in the rain had already been mentioned when one of the party fell and sprained an ankle. The delay might have been serious, but the valley floor, was reached safely after an exciting crossing of a creek, with swirling water up to arm-pits. 

An hour later, tired out for the second day in succession, the party reached Welcome Flat Hut just as darkness fell. 

The next day was necessarily devoted to rest; an improvement in the weather enabling all clothes and gear to be dried. While plans were being discussed for the removal of the injured man, one of the others found that one of his feet had been frostbitten, and that he would be unable to walk for some days. The only food remaining was a little pemmican, but there was a quantity of flour in the hut, and "rashoos" provided sufficient nourishment. 

Next morning the third member of the expedition walked the 16 miles down the valley to Karangarua, on the Main South Road. There, arrangements were made for horses to be sent up for the others, and by evening all were safely at Karangarua, where they were met by an aeroplane. The injuries of the two men were found to be not serious.  -NZ Herald, 18/1/1935.



MESSRS D. M. DAVIN AND G. C. K. JOHNSON   (abridged)

The University of Otago nominees for the Rhodes Scholarships are Messrs Daniel Marcus Davin, M.A. (Marist Brothers’ Invercargill, and Sacred Heart College) and George Christopher Nevill Johnson, B.A. (Fettes and Christ’s College). They were the only applicants, and the Special Committee of the Professorial Board last night approved of their applications going forward to the Selection Committee in Wellington, which meets later in the year. 


Mr Johnson was born at Sault-Ste-Marie, Canada, in 1913. He is a son of the Rev. W. Hardy Johnson, who was until recently vicar of All Saints’ Church. He received his primary education at the Lasswade School, Midlothian, Scotland, and at the Roslin School, where he was dux of the school in 1926, and gained a Foundation Scholarship to Fettes College, Edinburgh. From 1926 to 1928 he was a boarder at Fettes College, and then he removed to New Zealand, continuing his studies at Christ’s College, Christchurch. In 1931 he was head of the Sixth Form. He took prizes in Latin, French, English, and mathematics, and gained a University National Scholarship. He entered Otago University in 1932, taking first places in Latin, French, and Greek the first year, and in Latin and education the second year. In 1934 he graduated B.A. and took firsts in Latin and French and second in English. 

He has held a number of executive positions on various University societies and clubs. In 1934 he was secretary of the Arts Faculty Debating Society, and a member of the committee of the Otago University Debating Union and the University Defence Rifle Club. In 1935 he was vice-president of the Arts Faculty, president of the Arts Debating Society, a member of the Debating Union, club captain of the Rifle Club, and a member of the Critic staff. On the athletic side Mr Johnson’s chief interests have been shooting, tramping, mountaineering, and rowing. As a mountaineer he has made a number of important ascents. In 1933 he made the first crossing of Surveyor’s Col, a pass over the Main Divide of the Southern Alps, and the following year made a solo traverse of Mounts Blimit, Temple, and Phipps. He also made first ascents of Mount Jackson (8,400 ft), Barron Peak (8,200 ft), Mount Simpson (8,200 ft), and Mount Hickson (8,000 ft). In 1934 he made the first ascent of Mount Baker (8,000 ft), and the first traverse of Mount Ward (8,68lft). During the present year he has made first ascent of Mount Fettes (8,092 ft), Dent Noire (7,500 ft), and other peaks, and made the first crossing of the Douglas Pass to a West Coast habitation. He has been elected a member of the New Zealand Alpine Club. All these climbs were made without guides. Mr Johnson has also been interested in Scouting.  -Evening Star, 23/8/1935.

-Evening Star, 23/8/1935.


BOARD MEETING   (abridged)

The headmaster reported that one of the masters Mr J H Kempthorne had been appointed second-lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade and was tc take up his duties almost immediately Mr G C. N. Johnson was appointed to take his place on the staff and efforts were being made to secure the services of another junior master The board’s attention was drawn to the large number of old boys who had volunteered for military service It was decided that a scholarship and free place be advertised as available for next year, the examination for which was to take place in November. A favourable report had been received regarding the Inspection recently of the primary and infant departments.  -Otago Daily Times, 23/9/1939.



The vacancy caused by Mr G. C. N. Johnson having left to join the Air Force has been filled by Mr C. Warburton, a graduate of Otago University.   -Evening Star, 22/2/1941.

Johnson's Air Force career is difficult to find.  He passed out at Wigram in Auguast 1941, was injured in a training crash in the UK in January 1942.  In July, 1943, he was promoted to the rank of Pilot Officer.  As stated below, he completed a tour of operations and was then made Education Officer.

Personal Items

Flight Lieutenant G. C. N. Johnson, of Dunedin, has been appointed to command No. 4 (Otago) Squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force with the rank of squadron leader. He replaces Squadron Leader J. R. Day, M.B.E., one of the original members of the squadron, whose term expired on November 30. — (P.A.)  -Press, 6/12/1952.


Observer Killed; Pilot Injured 


(New Zealand Press Association) DUNEDIN, January 18. Squadron Leader G. C. N. Johnson, of Dunedin, died from injuries received in an aircraft crash on Saturday morning while searching for two missing Wellington trampers in the Matukituki Valley. 

The Harvard aircraft, in which Squadron Leader Johnson was travelling as observer, was piloted by Flight Lieutenant A. A. D. Bills, of Dunedin, who injured a leg. The aircraft left Taieri about 6 a.m. on Saturday. It was posted missing later in the morning. The Harvard crashed into the side of Mount Aspiring, it is believed before 8 a.m. It was found with its nose pointing towards the valley under a huge rock. The wing was torn off and lay beside the aircraft. The machine did not catch fire.

Flight Lieutenant Bills made Squadron Leader Johnson as comfortable as possible and set out for Aspiring Hut to obtain help. With a severe gash in the leg and suffering from shock, Flight Lieutenant Bills clambered up steep rocky faces on Mount Aspiring and through heavy bush for help. It seems that the sacrifice may have been in vain. The two Wellington trampers, Messrs Frank Siddle, aged 27, and Charles R. Roskett, aged 19, have now been missing for 12 days and little hope is held for their rescue. Search parties looking for the trampers and xhe Harvard aircraft were stationed at the Aspiring Hut when Flight Lieutenant Bills staggered into their view. Shots were fired to bring back members of the party scouring the mountain faces. A party immediately set out to assist Squadron Leader Johnson, but when it arrived at the wrecked Harvard about 5 p.m. he was dead. 

When Flight Lieutenant Bills arrived at Wanaka today he was still wearing his flying kit. It was torn and he was covered with blood from cuts and scratches suffered in his gallant dash for help. He was examined by a doctor and rushed to the Cromwell Hospital suffering from shock and the leg injury. His condition tonight was satisfactory. 

Prominent Mountaineer Squadron Leader Johnson died on a mountainside in a district where he had himself climbed many times. He was searching for the two missing trampers in an area where he himself would never have been lost. His activities in the mountaineering field were not only physical, but also administrative, as he had long been associated with tramping clubs and edited the “New Zealand Alpine Journal” from 1947 to 1951. 

Last December Squadron Leader Johnson took over command of No. 4 Territorial Air Force Squadron from Squadron Leader J. R. Pay, M.B.E. He had been a war-time pilot with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, his service extending from December, 1940, until March, 1945. After completing a tour of operations he was appointed an education officer with the Royal Air Force in 1943. 

After graduating Master of Arts and attending the Dunedin Teachers Training College, Squadron Leader Johnson taught at various primary schools until 1940, when he joined the Air Force. When he returned he joined the staff of the King Edward Technical College, where he taught English, social studies and mathematics. During the last two years he was careers' teacher and also had a general oversight of all examination pupils. One of his activities was editing the college magazine. He was 39 years old and is survived by a wife and three young children.


Three twin-engined Devon aircraft and three Harvards took off from the R.N.Z.A.F. station, Wigram, at 1 p.m. on Saturday to assist in the search for the Harvard which crashed while searching for two trampers. They were to have flown to Taieri for their instructions and were over Ashburton when they were recalled.  -Press, 19/1/1953.




(New Zealand Press Association) DUNEDIN, March 18.

“These deaths are all related. Ones hopes that they will act as a deterrent; to others embarking on tramping expeditions when insufficient numerically,” said the Coroner (Mr J. D. Willis) at inquests today into the deaths of Francis Edward Siddle, aged 28, a wool spinner, of Wellington, Charles Richard Foskett, aged 19, a student, of Wellington; and George Christopher Nevill Johnson, aged 39, a school teacher and squadron leader in the Territorial Air Force. 

Siddle and Foskett were members of the Tararua Tramping Club, and they had gone on an expedition to the Matukituki valley. It is believed that they died on December 30. Johnson died of injuries when a Harvard aircraft in which he was the observer crashed in the Upper West Matukituki valley when a search was being carried out by the Royal New Zealand Air Force on January 17 for the missing trampers.

“Three lives have been needlessly lost, and the cost to the country has been enormous,” the Coroner said. It was futile to enter on such an expedition as the two trampers had done, when their numbers were insufficient.

The Coroner said he thought something might be done when lost trampers were found to make them pay something towards the cost of a search.

The Coroner found that Johnson had died as the result of a depressed fracture of the left frontal region of the skull, with associated injuries; and that the two trampers had died on December 30 while mountaineering in the Matukituki valley, but that the precise nature of their injuries was not known. 

Plane Crash Described In the inquest into Johnson’s Heath Flight Lieutenant Bills said in evidence that, after an aircraft of which he was the pilot had searched the Plunket dome, a forced landing had been found necessary on the side of a ridge. Johnson was in the cockpit, with the safety harness secure. After making a sweep around the Plunket dome, they decided to have a closer look. 

Witness said that when he straightened up the plane he was unable to control it. He was flying at 4500 feet before the plane crashed, and visibility was good. 

Evidence about the two trampers was given by R. R. Edwards, a shipping clerk. He said he was the leader of a party which included a member named Feasey. Feasey reported on January 18 that he had found an ice axe. On January 23 the party climbed the Ernie Smith route, and Feasey pointed out approximately where he had found the axe. Through binoculars, a green pack was seen below the place where the axe was found. The missing trampers’ bodies were seen by another member of the party, C. M. Todd.

Evidence of finding the bodies was given by Todd, a lecturer at the University of Otago. “After 30 feet of dangerous scrambling, I reached a point level with the place where the bodies were lying,” he said. He was able to retrieve some papers, but it was too dangerous to attempt to get out the pack. The dead trampers had not been roped together.  -Press, 19/3/1953.

In 2013, the engine opf the Harvard plane was found in the Matukituki Valley by a man fossicking for gold.  Aubrey Bills was still alive at 91 and remembered the crash vividly, the plane hitting a downdraft and stalling onto the mountainside. "When I came to we were hanging upside down in our straps and I could hear trickling, and I thought it was petrol and we were done for." he said when interviewed by the NZ Herald. "It was pretty upsetting. They gave me the Queen's Commendation for brave conduct, but I didn't accept it. In those days, and even today, I've got this thing 'was it my fault?' I don't believe it was, but you have that doubt in the back of your mind and I couldn't talk about it for a long time, although it doesn't worry me like it used to."

Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin.