Country: New Zealand
Issued on: Return
Date of presentation: 12/09/1902
Number issued: 1
Gold medal, to:
Reception Social at Orton.
A most successful presentation and reception social was tendered to Trooper Charles KELLAND, Seventh Contingent, in the Orton schoolroom on Friday evening, the 12th inst. The weather, though threatening, did not deter a large and representative gathering of friends and visitors coming from the surrounding districts to welcome home the popular young trooper. The Reception Committee endeavored to make the welcome a great success, and spared no time or trouble to attain that end, even going so far as to erect a temporary building alongside the school, in anticipation of a large gathering, and it is pleasing to say their efforts were crowned with success. Both rooms were comfortably filled, and in first-class order for dancing. The Grand March was led off about 8.30 p.m., and dancing was kept going vigorously for an hour and a half.
At 10 o’clock the chairman of the Reception Committee (Mr Dorward) made the announcement that the time for the most important part of the proceedings had arrived. He said that all were aware that the residents of the district were presenting Trooper KELLAND with a medal to show their appreciation of his actions in taking his life in his hands and going forth to South Africa to fight the battles of the Empire. It was not necessary for him to say anything further, but would call upon Mr Stewart to make the presentation.
Mr Stewart came forward, and said: “Once more I have to thank the residents of Orton and sympathisers for entrusting me with the pleasant duty of making a presentation. The last time I occupied a similar position was when we bid good-bye to Trooper ELLIS, as forming one of the Tenth Contingent. I think the Tenth Contingent put the finishing touch on the Boers. No wonder they threw up the sponge on learning of its approach. We are met, as the chairman has stated, to celebrate the return of Trooper KELLAND from the war. A reunion is a much brighter and happier function than a parting, and it is hardly necessary for me to ask you to mark the event in a loyal and hearty manner. This, I am sure, you will do, for one and all must be glad to welcome our guest bark again to “Home, sweet home”. Looking back on the war just finished we cannot compliment the War Office on its work during the earlier stages of the war. They seemed to ignore information regarding the armed state of the Boers. When hostilities did begin they sent men in charge of obsolete guns, in many cases much inferior to those in possession of the enemy. For a long time they underestimated the strength of the Boers, till at length, after dear-bought experience, the bitter truth was forced upon them that a large army was the only means by which the struggle could be finished. Perhaps no man took a clearer view of this conclusion than our own Premier, Mr Seddon. That this determination to see the finished as soon as possible took a practical shape is known to all, and one contingent quickly followed another to secure that end. It is a matter of history how quietly and patiently the public endured the strain, whilst the spirit of loyalty and self-sacrifice of the youth of the colony in freely offering their services has raised New Zealand high in the estimation of the Motherland, and to-day we stand bound closer than ever by ties of common interest of kindred feeling and mutual regard. Our present duty is to hope that those in power may use every wise and just means of fostering peaceful relations between Briton and Boer. With wise administration we have every reason to believe South Africa shall develop into a rich and powerful country. In conclusion, we are all proud to know the New Zealanders have won golden opinions during the war. In actions their resourcefulness, self-reliance, dash, courage, and fine horsemanship, have been highly spoken of, whilst their moral conduct seems to have been of a high standard indeed. Trusting these remarks may not have proved wearisome, I will now proceed with, the presentation. Trooper KELLAND, I [illegible] that the large number of bright and happy faces here to-night must convey to you far more than words of mine can express the feelings of good-will and admiration of your friends and neighbors. We were sorry to hear of your long and dangerous illness from enteric fever, and truly thankful to hear in course of time that you were regaining health. Although prevented through the illness from joining actively in the war during a great part of your stay in South Africa, we fully recognise the spirit of duty and devotion that prompted you to join in England’s struggle, and we are certain no one was more disappointed than yourself in being laid aside from active work. We are proud to welcome you back, and trust that all effects of your recent illness may soon disappear. You have proved a trusty defender of your country; now go a step further, and act as defender to some charming lady for the rest of your life. Before calling on Miss Airay to pin the medal on your breast, I wish to say that the present gathering includes a welcome to Corporal MALAN and Trooper ELLIS, of Orton, and also outside troopers here to-night. We wish you long life and happiness, and trust you may long be spared to wear the medal”.
The chairman next called on Mr J.R. Brodie to address the meeting, and that gentleman on rising said: “I am glad to have this opportunity of joining with you in welcoming Trooper KELLAND and his brave comrades in arms back to home and friends, and in congratulating them on their safe return. Owing to Trooper KELLAND’s long and serious illness and the difficulty in getting authentic information as to the real state of his health, and the long, weary, heart-sickening suspense, the anxiety endured by his friends can only be known to themselves, and I am sure that every heart here is swelling with gratitude to Almighty God for having so richly rewarded them for their faith, fortitude, and patience under circumstances that were very trying indeed. We are proud of our soldier sons, and delight to have this opportunity of honouring them. We are proud of the splendid patriotism which they displayed when they so nobly responded to their country’s call for volunteers to fight her battles in South Africa, proud of their gallantry in the field, their unfailing devotion to duty, and proud of their endurance, bravery, and resource under conditions altogether unique in the history of modern warfare; and we are especially proud, Trooper KELLAND, that you had the honor to belong to the splendid regiment, the Seventh New Zealand Mounted Infantry, the heroes of Bothasberg, and a hundred other well-fought fights. But while we are rejoicing we must not forget those who cannot rejoice with us. The parents, and especially the mothers, who are now mourning for the bright young lives that nevermore will cross the threshold of their homes. They have sealed their patriotism with their blood. They are gone but not forgotten, for the memory of their deeds will live as long as the English language is spoken. You and your brave comrades in arms will now return to the busy every-day life which you left when you volunteered for the front, but you can always look back with pride to the days that you spent fighting under the brave old flag — the flag that for a thousand years has braved the battle and the breeze; the flag of the greatest, grandest, and freest people the world has ever seen; the flag of an Empire that conquers not to subject or enslave, but to free and elevate. I have already said that you can look back with honest pride to the time you spent with the Colours, for you have splendidly upheld the best fighting traditions of the war-like race from which you have sprung”.
Here Trooper KELLAND suitably replied, thanking all for their kind remarks and valuable gift.
During the remarks the speakers were frequently applauded, and three cheers were given for the returned troopers. A letter of apology from Mr and Mrs Irwin, Rangitata, was read by the chairman, expressing regret at not being able to attend.