The story of L E J Worthington, who was determined to join up.
From the Temuka Leader, 4 January 1900 read: 'The War Fever. We learn that Mr Leonard Worthington, ranger for the South Canterbury Acclimatisation Society, who has volunteered for active service in the Transvaal without success, threw up his engagement on Tuesday and left for Wellington with the intention of proceeding to South Africa on the chance of being allowed to enlist there. His intention leaked out, and quite a large number of his comrades and associates escorted him to the station, carrying him shoulder high most of the way. Mr Worthington has been a most energetic officer during his term of engagement, and he is of the tough stamp, that should make his services acceptable where hard knocks and sparse rations are the order of the day.'
On 9 January 1900 the Timaru Herald noted 'Mr L. Worthington, the head ranger of the South Canterbury Acclimatisation Society, who left for Wellington last week to try and join the second Contingent, returned on Saturday, his application having been unsuccessful owing to his height being 2 inches below the standard. He then applied to join in some subordinate capacity, but was again rejected, as there were numerous other applicants for similar positions.'.
A further entry in the Temuka Leader of 28 April 1900 provided information on his eventual enlistment: 'Mr Len Worthington, who, it will be remembered, when last heard of was making his way to South Africa as a fireman on the 'Waiwera', has written from the Cape to Mr Jas Whelan, and we are enabled to give a general outline of his very graphic letter. On arrival at the Cape after a voyage, which was not conducive to a fattening process, his first thought was to get ashore. Notices were posted up that any member of the crew attempting to leave would be put in chains, and as a further check to any desire to leave Len noticed that the harbour teemed with sharks, and this deterred him from an attempt to swim ashore. 'Not,' he remarks 'that they have much more than a bone to pick if they did catch me.' Incidentally he mentions Trooper Lilburne as having been kind to him on the voyage by giving him sugar and pickles. The Cape at the time of his arrival was a busy scene. The Australians were landing, and there were three troopships to discharge, enough men, Len says, to eat the Boers. At date of writing the New Zealanders were fighting, 'having a soul-stirring time.' Among the vessels in harbour the writer mentions the 'Terrible,' one of the biggest of men-o'-war, and lest there should be any doubt the writer gives a rough sketch showing her four funnels. The letter, by the way, is written on the 24th March, and the writer concludes it by remarking that the next day will be his 26th birthday, and he suggests that his Temuka friends should have a drink and celebrate the occasion. On a scrap of an old copy of the Windsor Magazine, dated February 25th, he writes: 'I got off the ship by sliding down a rope, and made tracks, I am going up on the hill till the ship goes out.' Under date March 24th, he writes: 'I am here a soldier, and a good one too. We are getting put-through the riding test, and you would laugh your sides out at some of them. There are a lot of sailors and men who have never been on a horse in their lives.' Cape Town, he remarks, is a good place, but things are very different to NZ. The regiment he has joined is Brabant's Light Horse and his regimental number is 5073.'
I suppose you know that "5073 Tpr. L.E.J.Worthington" is on the Kaplan roll as being in 2/BH and earning the clasps Wepener, Belfast, Wittebergen and Cape Colony on his QSA. Discharged 15/10/00. The nominal roll images show he later served with the 8th NZMR; home address NZ.
It is probably not appreciated these days that many from OZ/NZ travelled to SA as horse handlers, seamen or "indulgence passengers" after they lost out in the official ballots.
I am now finalising the Wepener book and was looking at a few men who served in the Great War for any additional biographical information to augment their entries when I found this information relating to LEJW. Coincidentally, his QSA, without his other awards, sold at auction un the US in 2018.