Country: New Zealand
Issued on: Return
Date of presentation: 06/06/1902
Number issued: 1
Gold albert & pendant, to:
WELCOMING TROOPER CLARKE
A social, organised by Woodhaugh residents and members of the Loyal Valley Lodge M.U.I.O.O.F., was held in the North Dunedin Drill Hall on Friday to welcome home Trooper J.L. CLARKE, Sixth New Zealand Contingent, from the late South African war. Bro. A. Applegarth was in charge of the function, and was well supported by other members of the lodge. The hall was gaily dressed with bunting, and presented a bright and attractive appearance. Dancing was freely indulged in by some 120 couples, who appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. About 9 o'clock dancing was suspended for a while to permit of a couple of presentations being made to the hero of the evening. Bishop Nevill, on behalf of residents of Woodhaugh, in presenting Trooper CLARKE with a handsome gold albert and pendant, said that the occasion was doubly interesting: they were welcoming home one known to most of them from early boyhood, after he had seen service in South Africa, and the ceremony was made additionally interesting from the fact that we were yet celebrating the glorious news which had reached us only a few days ago — (Applause). They might reasonably feel that Trooper CLARKE and all those who had gone to the front had helped to bring about this happy state of affairs. We all knew that there was a time when it seemed probable that, instead of waging war against the Boers only, we might have to wage it against more powerful foes. Difficulties might easily have arisen which would have made the war a much more terrible thing than it actually was. The exhibition of loyalty on the part of the colonies and their readiness to go to the assistance of their mother in her hour of trial might have caused our enemies to withhold their hands and alter the policy which under other circumstances they would have pursued. To those who had obeyed the call of their country we owed a debt we could never repay. — (Applause). Before he made the presentation to Trooper CLARKE he would like to say that he thought they should remember the mothers of our soldiers. It was they who had to endure the suspense, and perhaps in the darkness of the night, upon a restless bed, lie wondering whether their sons were still alive. To his mind the mothers deserved our admiration as much as the soldier they were so pleased to see back again. — (Applause). In honouring the son they would be honouring his mother, and if her son was a credit to his country how much more was he a credit to her? — (Applause). Bishop Nevill then handed Trooper CLARKE the gift referred to amidst applause.
P.G.M. Bro. Wilson, on behalf of the lodge, then presented Trooper CLARKE with a set of gold studs and sleeve-links.
Trooper CLARKE replied in a humorous speech, thanking the donors of the gifts for their kindness. The welcome one got on their return from the war was ample reward for the hardships endured, and he thought the reason that returned troopers enlisted again was to secure another welcome when they came back. He had had a lot of fun in South Africa, but there were also sad sides to the picture, and the saddest of all was when they had to bury their comrade. Narrating the circumstances attending the death of Lieutenant RYAN, one of his officers, Trooper CLARKE said that one morning Lieutenant RYAN and 12 men were ordered into a rather awkward place. A Kaffir had brought news that some Boers were anxious to surrender, and Lieutenant RYAN's party were sent to bring them in. On going to the place Lieutenant RYAN did not like the look of it, but of course was under orders. He (Trooper CLARKE) was with the party, and was told off to burn a waggon. When the others had advanced about 100 yards some shooting began. He had the waggon pretty well alight, and not wishing to be "on his own" when any shooting was going on, followed up in a hurry. By the time he caught up Lieutenant RYAN was shot in the head. His last words were: "It's getting too hot for my fancy". They carried him on horseback for 10 miles, and he was buried next morning. After dealing with less mournful incidents and giving some humorous features of campaigning, Trooper CLARKE again returned thanks for the present he had received.
The company sang "For he's a jolly good fellow", and after giving Trooper CLARKE three cheers gave three more for his mother and four for his father.