Number issued: 10
1393 Trooper W.J. BLISSET
2575 Trooper F.L. BARKER
???? Trooper ANDERSON
4050 Trooper [Corporal] J. SCOBIE
September 1902 presentation
7768 Trooper Edward James GRIMSEY [Ginnsey]
Presentation made at a school social.
Reception of Troopers at Orari.
On Friday night at the schoolroom, Orari, the reception given to the local warriors on their return from the war was one of which they might justly feel elated. The crowd of people from the immediate locality, and from all parts of the district, including Belfield, Rangitata, Winchester, and Geraldine, was, perhaps the biggest ever seen at the school. The success of the gathering was chiefly due to “the Spartan spirit that made life so grand”, which characterised the Orari settlers, and to the excellent arrangements made by the committee. By way of making the reception as pleasant as possible to the returned troopers the dancing hall was prettily decorated with flags, evergreens, and mottoes, the appropriate “Welcome Home”, standing out above the extemporised platform in laurel leaves on a white back ground. Mr A.W. Ensor presided, and the proceedings commenced at 7.30 p.m. with a song by Mr C. Gimson, “England will see it Through”, followed by a grand march and polka, and an enjoyable programme of dances. Messrs Bracefield and Richardson acted as Master of Ceremonies, and splendid music was supplied by Messrs Murray, Heap, and Moriss.
At 9 p.m. the dancers and others crowded up in front of the platform, where all returned troopers present were drawn up in line under Sergeant-Major ENSOR. There were present Troopers HENDERSON, CANAVAN, and VERNALL (Orari) CLOUSTON (Geraldine), MOSS (Winchester), EVANS (Woodbury), and TINDALL (Kakahu).
Mr A.W. Ensor said they had gathered together to do honour to four brave men, just home from the front, by presenting each one of them with a gold medal. ……. He now had much pleasure in calling upon Captain McKenzie to present the medals.
Captain McKenzie said he had a very pleasing duly to perform in handing medals to the returned Orari troopers, and he was not going to say much because the men had had about twenty speeches fired at them since they arrived in New Zealand, from the Right Hon. the Premier downwards. On behalf of Orari and the whole of the Geraldine district he was glad to welcome the troopers back. They were all proud of the boys who had come back, and well they might be, for during their eighteen months on active service they had conducted themselves like soldiers and men. Here they were back again, looking as fit as possible, and every one developed into a perfect type of the British soldier, as could be seen by their deportment that evening. (Applause). Their actions in the field we had all watched very closely, for while studying the movements of the New Zealanders as a body we know that our own boys were amongst them. From what he had seen the New Zealanders had borne themselves well in every engagement they had been in, and particularly so in the Rhenoster Kop fight, in which men had to lie for fifteen hours at a stretch behind ant hills and stones where every movement of a muscle meant a bullet whistling past. Amongst the Orari boys there was one who distinguished himself in this fight for his great coolness. When a bullet ploughed its way across the uniform of Trooper VERNALL he said with as much coolness as a man taking his porridge, “That were close were it not?” (Laughter. A voice; “That’s one for Charlie”). When a man could make a remark like that when so near death it showed very great pluck indeed. It only remained to say that every one of our boys, he believed, was made of the same stuff. (Hear, hear. A voice: “The bull-dog breed”). Ounce more he was pleased to welcome the troopers back. Mr Ensor here apologised for the absence of Trooper D. FRASER. Captain Mackenzie then handed out the medals to the Orari men. Sergeant-Major ENSOR, and Troopers HENDERSON, CANAVAN, and VERNALL, and called for three hearty cheers for all the returned troopers present, which were given with great enthusiasm. Cheers were also given for the. ladies, Captain McKenzie, and Mr Ensor.
Our Geraldine correspondent writes:
Reception of Returned Troopers at Orari.
If there is one thing more than another that the Orari settlers may pride themselves on, it is the fact that they are never found wanting in the matter of giving a loyal home coming to their returned soldiers, and last Friday night’s reception to Troopers BARKER, BLISSET, and ANDERSON was no exception to the rule. The schoolroom was lavishly decorated with miniature flags, ferns, toitoi, and evergreens, and presented quite a lively scene with the floor space all taken up with dancers, amongst whom were a good many troopers in uniform. Mr Bracefield made an excellent M.C., and a pleasing feature of the dance was the splendid music supplied by the Arowhenua Brass Baud, who kindly gave their services free. Their playing during the evening was highly appreciated by all present, and the spirited music they discoursed greatly enlivened the proceedings. Mr J. Burke, with the melodeon, also played for a number of dances.
At 9 30 p.m. Mr A.W. Ensor mounted the dais and said that they had now reached the most important, part of the function, viz., that of presenting medals to the returned men. He was very glad to see so many friends present. Some had said that the Fourth and Fifth Contingents’ mm were not going to have a reception, but, from what he could see, if it was the 45th Contingent, it would be all the same with Orari people — they would rise to the occasion, as they had always done. Because the doings of the Fourth and Fifth Contingents were not made so public in the newspapers as the others were, it was not to say that the men had neglected their duty. With the Fourth and Fifth, while in South Africa, it was a continual trek, trek, trek, and the men put in some useful hard work, proving themselves — though young — to be equal in many respects to seasoned veterans, and to be men of grit and right down good campaigners. He had much pleasure in calling upon Lieutenant-Colonel Bailey to present the medals, and Miss Bisset — the first young lady born at Orari — to decorate the men with same.
The returned troopers of the Fourth and Fifth were then lined up before Lieutenant-Colonel Bailey, there being present — Quarter-Master-Seargeant Foster (Christchurch), Troopers Blissett, Barker, and Anderson (Orari), Aitken (Rangitata), and Taylor (Geraldine).
Lieutenant-Colonel Bailey, in addressing the men, said he had been asked to perform a very pleasing duty in presenting medals to three Orari troopers, who were members of the Fourth and Fifth Contingents. As an old soldier, he need not tell them that he took the greatest interest in the send-off of so many young fellows who were going to serve their Country and form part of the great Imperial Army, to which we all belonged. He had a special interest in the Fifth Contingent, because his own son was in the North Canterbury section of same for a considerable time, till he was invalided home. In watching the doings of the New Zealanders as published in the newspapers, he was much struck with the fact that they had not only behaved themselves as true sons of the Empire, but were highly complimented by all the general officers under whom they served. Their behaviour in camp and on the field appeared to have been exemplary. We were proud of them when they went away. We should be doubly proud of them on their return. (Loud applause). He was sorry to see that, though the Fourth and Fifth had not lost many men in South Africa, the hardship they had endured had told on some of them, and a number came home to die. This was very hard on them after having gone through so much for their country’s good.
Miss Bisset here performed the pleasant task of fixing a medal to the breast of each of the three Orari troopers, and Lieutenant-Colonel Bailey called for three hearty cheers for the returned men of the Fourth and Fifth Contingents, which were given right lustily.
Mr Forsyth made a good patriotic speech in welcoming the returned troopers, who had fought side by side with veteran soldiers of the Empire to relieve our fellow-men, who were oppressed by the Boers. Wise prophet though Mr Kruger was, he little dreamt that his impudent ultimatum would in the end prove such a blessing in disguise to the British nation, welding as it did the whole Empire together, and what a lesson it had been to those little Englanders, who belittled their own country, and fondly imagined that the colonies would not prove loyal to the Motherland. Britain’s policy was that of the open door — freedom and equality to all — but the Boers had one law for themselves and another for the outlander. We had changed all that now, and no more would our men, women, and children be illtreated and insulted in the streets of Pretoria. —
“This is the faith that Britons hold, When they build their homes afar, Freedom for our sons, Freedom for ourselves; And, failing freedom, War”.
Mr Brodie, of Rangitata, also spoke at the request of the chairman. He said that once he got fairly started he could talk all night about the good qualities of our troopers who had seen service in South Africa, but he would not have much to say after the excellent addresses they had listened to. The medals the troopers had received that night he trusted would be handed down to their children’s children, who could point to them and say “Our fathers fought in the war and were presented with those medals in recognition of their splendid services on the field”. (Applause).
Mr A.W. Ensor called for three cheers for old England’s “Tommy,” which were heartily given.
Trooper BARKER, in thanking the public for the reception they had given him and his comrades, said he was pleased to be back amongst them again, and would ever cherish the medal they had presented him with as a memento of the occasion. He had passed through a good many trying experiences since he left for the front, but never through a more trying experience than he had just passed through. He would wear the medal on his watch chain as a thing of great value to him, and he could assure the ladies that he had come across a good many members of the fair sex in South Africa, but nowhere had he seen a finer collection of ladies than he saw that night.
Quarter-Master-Sergeant Foster and Trooper ANDERSON also spoke briefly, and Mr Bracefield called for three cheers for Colonel Bailey, after which the dancing was proceeded with.
Reception at Orari.
The Orari School room was crowded to the doors on Friday night when a Welcome Home was given to Corporal SCOBIE or the Seventh Contingent. The school room for the occasion was very appropriately decorated with patriotic flags, mottoes, evergreens etc., and all the arrangements for the dancing reflected credit on the committee. Mr Bracefield acted as M.C., and Mr Glanville’s band supplied the music. The refreshments were provided by Mr Mason, Dancing was the chief feature of the programme till 10 p.m. when Mr C. Gimson contributed a taking patriotic song for which he was deservedly encored. After this Mr A.W. Ensor, chairman, asked that a break might be made in the programme so that a presentation might be made to Corporal SCOBIE. The returned troopers present were then drawn up in line before the chairman who apologised for the unavoidable absence of Captain Mackenzie and announced that Mr W. Hawke had kindly consented to take the former’s place in making the presentation.
Mr Hawke said he was one of the oldest agriculturists in the Orari district and therefore knew something of the soldier boys lined up before him that night — in fact he felt like a second father to them. Corporal SCOBIE — he was pleased to hear — had been through many battles in South Africa and had come out without a scratch unlike Trooper VERNALL who had been shot through several times. (Laughter). The New Zealanders had done well at the war and some of the best boys at the front were the Orari boys. As a matter of fact Orari had sent away more troopers than any other small district about here. (Applause). He felt very proud of the good work done by the Now Zealanders and he was sure that if they ever had to go to China they would show the “Chinkey” the way round and the Boxers would soon have to stand back.
Miss Ensor here came forward at the request of Mr Hawke and fastened the presentation medal on Corporal SCOBIE’s breast on behalf of the residents of the district.
Mr Hawke then congratulated Corporal SCOBIE and gave him good wishes on behalf of himself and the public.