Thursday, November 15, 2007

Armistice Memorial

You may remember from my Easter post about a high country station known as Mesopotamia. This is the land I grew up on, and where I took my friend Megs for a holiday. This November I returned again to my roots, but this time I was on duty.

I had been invited by the secretary of the Geraldine Returned Services Association to attend the Remembrance Service they were holding at the memorial outside my old primary school.

Mesopotamia Primary School.
10 pupils at max
1x Classroom
1x Kitchen
Boys loo, Girls loo
Playground of about 18,000 acres

I had been invited because I would be able to represent both the services (as I am in the Air Force) and the most prominent family in the area (Prouting). The Prouting's are in the third generation of running Mesopotamia. This may not seem like a lot to Ye Olde Brits over there on the top of the world, but it is pretty significant for bright and shiny new little New Zealand. My father was on the committee which was formed to research the names to be put on the commemoration stone. Though there are plenty of men who had worked on the station at some point in their lives who fell in the Great War, the committee decided it would be a never-ending task to find them all, and some would always be missed. So they opted to place the names of the men who left the station directly to join up.

Commemoration Stone
Remains of Samuel Butler's Dairy

Frank Boucher, Joe Jobberns, Alex MacRae, Snowy Dalton, Jack MacRae and John McNeil.

The men above all worked together. Jack MacRae was the manager of Mesopotamia, Frank Boucher was the head shepherd. The rest were the other shepherds - or musterers, as they were known. There were eight men in the gang who left to serve. Only two came home.

I went up the day before to take the above photos (without the threat of people getting in the way) and discovered my cousin Sue tidying up the school grounds. In the truck was her daughter Pieta - keeping out of trouble.

Pietey, looking all-too-innocent...

Sunday I managed to turn up five minutes before the bus. They had about an hour's journey from Geraldine up the valley on the winding, dusty, gravel road. Before the service began I met and talked with the men of the RSA who I had already been in contact with. It was nice to put faces to names.
Meeting the President, the Secretary and the Researcher...

Reading "The Gospel According to St John, Chapter 15 Verses 7 to 13 (I think)

Giving my speech. Oh No! There is a cave in my tie. Unprofessional. I blame the lack of mirrors on a farm.

My Dad giving his speech. I think he made his up on the spot.

Famous NZ artist Austin Deans, Mayor of Timaru Jannie Annear, President Geraldine RSA Robert Wood, Vicar, Me, Thom Pike (also of G.RSA)

My Mum (left) and her sister Sue (right). That's the wreath in the middle, leaning on the stone

And below is the best picture of all. This is my Mum. She is also Ju's Mum. She is one of the loveliest people in the world, but she hates having her photo taken. I think she and Lorenzo would love having a couple of gins together.
Mum is wearing her father's medals from WWII, we don't have his father's medals from WWI.
Isn't she just gorgeous?


simon said...

great post! I wish I could tie my ties like that Ju's!

I can tell you what brand of truck it is too just by looking at the glove box lid....

Its a Toyota landcruiser ah!

Ju's little sister said...

Simon you've hit the nail on the head - you must be from Down Under!!!

lorenzothellama said...

Hey, what a jolly lady. I must really come over to NZ. I've always wanted to ever since Maalie was there in the 70s. (You know he only chose NZ to go to as he wanted to see a kiwi in the wild!).
I'll have a gin and toast your mother!
What's a cave in a tie? I couldn't see one.
Are there any male Proutings apart from your father? I bet Plumpy leaves fur on your uniform!
No longer an eel?

Ju's little sister said...

Plumpy does leave fur on my uniform!

Male Proutings? Well there is Don, Ray, Laurie, Frank, Malcolm, Aaron, Gary, Andrew (who is also Don), William and Fergus. There's actually more but I lose track of the littlies. And I'm not including the extended extended family.

We're quite a clan.

lorenzothellama said...

A few Proutings then!
When mother and father come to visit Ju they will all be welcome to come and stay. Badger and I would be delighted to show them Darcy's Pool and crack a bottle of gin or two! I mean it.

ooo the word is numfuk today!

lorenzothellama said...

ps: I'm sure Maalie will be around too if he knows they are a'comin'.

Ju's little sister said...

I bet he would!

Brilliant v. word Lorenzo! I'll tell Mum she has a new gin buddy for her next trip!

Martin Stickland said...

It's not munky it's minky! Okay, I will slow down.

Wow! Good for you doing the speech, I bet your parents were proud of you and don't you look smart.

Sorry but I must go to bed now ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

lorenzothellama said...

Minky is a whale Martin, or are you pretending to be Inspector Cluseaux?

Martin Stickland said...

JLS started it loremzybum, blame her that she gotted a bad ejukation.

Ju's little sister said...


Kiwi Nomad 2006 said... wonderful that you were able to go back to your old family haunts to serve in such a special role.
I have two great uncles who died in WW1, and I have been to Kumara and Darfield to see their names on the war memorials. In Kumara the names are inscribed on some greenstone slabs. Darfield has a separate cenotaph near the main highway, with a little fence around it that makes you approach it with reverence.

lorenzothellama said...

How come JLS gotted a bad ejaculation Martin?
Kiwi: I know I have had a couple of gins, but I do get so cross about the New Zealand and Australian men who died fighting in WW1 and 2. Just because they were in the 'commonwealth' doesn't mean they had to die for Britain. They were just too brave and should never have been involved in what was just a European squabble over politics. I wish to apologise to all the families who lost men. It was so futile and un-necessary. I really should keep quiet I suppose.
Love Lorenzo.

Ju's little sister said...

Thank you Lorenzo, that means a lot to me.

I think Martin meant education, in an un-edookated sort of way.


Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

Yeah, I know Lorenzo..... but back then they still called Britain the "Motherland" kind of thing.... and when Mother called, the peoples of the Dominion came to help.

TCA said...

What a lovely Remembrance Service and you look very smart if I do say so myself - well done indeed. Only minor caving on the tie knot -a mere suggestion pf a crease. I always use a windsor knot, holds together far better I find.


lorenzothellama said...

Sorry you are sick. Perhaps you are allergic to cat fur!

I love Terry Pratch. Fairtrader has met him when she was working at Waterstones and he came to do a book signing.

I must say the witches and DEATH are my favourites. I also love Binky.


Martin Stickland said...


Please can you turn the lights out over that side of the pond because they are keeping me awake!

How is life treating you my friend?

It is Monday! Yipee! I love Monday!!!!

david mcmahon said...

G'day from Melbourne,

Don't worry about the tie - but I'd love to know what happened to the missing World War medals ....

Ju's little sister said...

I don't know what medals great-grandfather earned or where they are now, perhaps in another branch of the family.

When we found grandad's medals, we also found great-grandfather's pocket watch. The 'chain' was made from the tail-hair of his horse. I think he was in the mounted riflemen, but kiwi mother would have to confirm!

Maalie said...

Just catching up on postings that were put up while I was away. I must add that you look a real credit to your family and to your Service. I bet there were a few lumps in throats that day.

Did the RNZAF give you leave for that function, or did you have to take it out or your holiday entitlement?

kiwi mother said...

Well, it was an amazing day and JLS certainly did an amazing job - there were not many dry eyes at the end of her speech.

Her Gr-grandfather's medals are held by her Great-Uncle Cliff. Our family always felt JLS's Grandfather should have had custody of them because he was the eldest of the siblings; and besides, G.U. Cliff is only a HALF brother ( The father half is the same so that shouldn't really be an issue?). Anyway Gr.Grandfather served with the NZ Canterbury Mounted Rifles at Gallipoli and Battle of the Somme. Was very badly injured in France & sent back to NZ in 1917, after hospitalisation in England. Thankfully he did survive, otherwise none of you would be enjoying this blogsite today !!!