Passing time with Eris Parker

Cambridge WWI – Something to Remember

Tom Hill recorded in his diary –
31 October 1914 ‘Still at anchor in Albany harbour. Took some photos of Pyramus and Philomel as they left on return trip to New Zealand.’
1 November ‘Left Albany at 7.30 a.m. Next port of call Capetown.’
2 November ‘Have been sleeping on deck last four nights. A fairly high sea is running with indications of a storm coming. It is a great sight to see over 40 ships close together.’

Jim Watson recorded in his diary –
28 October 1914  ‘Arrived in Albany there we joined Australian Transports a dreary place.’
1 November ‘Leave Albany. 42 ships in all.’
6 November ‘Entered tropics.’

The ten warships were Maunganui, Tahiti, Ruapehu, Orari,  Limerick, Star of India, Hawkes Bay, Arawa,  Athenic and Waimana  accompanied by H M S  Minotaur, H M S Psyche,  H M S  Philomel and H I J M S Ibuki as escorts.
There were 380 officers and 8188 men accompanied by 3820 horses. More companies followed soon after.

004-PC-1-Oct 004-PC-2-Oct

13/479 Trooper Jim Watson

Diary – 22 September 1914


‘Farewell in the Domain, Auckland. Embarked on Star of India.’

24 September ‘Sailed from Auckland 5pm.’

25 September ‘Woke up in morning and found ourselves back in Auckland harbour.’

28 September ‘Troops disembark and go to Takapuna. Had a good time at Takapuna.’

The Main Body set sail on 24 September 1914 and included 35 Cambridge men.

However, the convoy was ordered to wait for a more powerful escort and returned to Auckland. Several days were spent at Takapuna and Panmure and eventually the convoy sailed on 16 October 1914.

Women’s Patriotic League

The local Women’s Hospital and War Fund Committee, with Mrs Isabella Gow as president, swung into action as soon as the war was announced. Dutch Auctions were held at private homes with nearly £100 being raised.
They helped raise money for a Hospital Ship, books and comforts for the training camps, and made up parcels for the boys overseas.

(In 1909 the women of Cambridge formed a Ladies Patriotic League and urged the need for establishing a scheme of universal military training. This committee is thought to be the first group of women in New Zealand to urge universal military training following the example of many British women. They also appealed to the women of the Dominion to assist in contributing towards the cost of a Dreadnought.)

The Cambridge District Contingent Fund was initiated by Mr Samuel Adams of ‘Waterside’ to assist the boys who left from the area. Mr M E Gibbons was secretary of the Cambridge Branch of the Soldiers’ Gift Fund and asked for volunteers to send monthly parcels to the men overseas.

8 August

13/459 Trooper Alf ‘Cocky’ Swayne, 13/728 Corporal Tom Phillips, 13/332 Trooper J Robert C ‘Fergie’ Ferguson, 13/461 Trooper Fabian Sperry and 13/479 Trooper Jim Watson, who were all territorials in the 4th Waikato Mounted Rifles, enlisted on the next Saturday night and were off on a great adventure to serve God, King and Country.

First Five Men

First Five Men

11 August

They received orders from headquarters in Hamilton to be medically examined by Dr Walter Stapley and then go into camp. Bob Simpson (Lieutenant with the Auckland Mounted Rifles) was the local marshalling officer and the first batch of men enlisting went to Hamilton under his charge on 11 August 1915.

15 August

One Cambridge volunteer, Arthur W McNeish was drafted to the Samoan Force with the wireless section. He was among 1413 men who had left New Zealand on 15 August in the Moeraki and the Monowai.

As territorials, the Cambridge men went fully equipped with rifle, bandolier, uniform, two blankets and messing gear. They also supplied their own horse, saddle, bridle and horse cover and set out to ride from the drill hall in Fort Street to the Hamilton horse bazaar, which was the assembly point.

Before leaving Cambridge they stopped near the Jubilee Fountain (near the Post Office) and were fare-welled by a handful of people including the mayor Mr George Dickinson.

From Hamilton the contingent of men and horses travelled by train to the concentration camp at Potter’s Paddock, now Alexandra Park, Epsom. On arrival in camp the horses were inspected by a veterinary surgeon (Major Lyons). If the horse passed the inspection the owner was paid £25 and the animal became the property of the Defence Department. Any horse which did not pass inspection was returned home and another horse supplied by the army.

At Epsom, army pattern horse equipment was issued. The privately owned bridles and saddles were placed in sacks and returned home, or if a buyer was found, sold on the spot.

As Alf Swayne left for camp he bought a saddle from Dick, Browning & Co a saddler in Duke Street. It cost him £4 5/- and he sold it in Auckland for £5 – but never got paid.

The men were allotted their regiment numbers and Auckland Mounted Rifles had the prefix 13/ before their numbers.

A few days later between 50 and 60 infantrymen left Cambridge for Hamilton en route for Epsom. They joined the 16th (Waikato) Company, one of four making up the Auckland Regiment.

Alex Beange                           Ed Boyle                                 Robert Chambers

Andrew Cornaga             Victor Cornaga                       Ernest Wilkin Cox

Angus B Crickett                  William Crickett                    Charles J Hally

Tom LaTrobe Hill                 Fred Keeley                            Leslie T Keeley

William D Kemp              Martin McDermott                 William McLiesh

George F McNeish            James McNeish                      John H McGarry

Aubrey C Ollard                     Henry R Ollard                       Francis A Paine

David J Pearson                      Holger B Randrup                 M Roy Roberts         

Charles S Sharp                      Fabian Sperry                         Alan Strawbridge

Samuel J Stewart                    Alf J Swayne                          Alexander Thomason

Fred C Thorpe                        Jim W Watson                          Alexander Walker

Brian Willis                            Leslie Young

Cambridge World War One – Something to Remember

The beginning of World War One was announced from the Cambridge pulpits in New Zealand on Sunday evening 2 August 1914. Britain was at war with Germany.

001--PO 001

There was not much work done the next day as the townspeople waited around the Post Office for more news.


Bob Chambers, who was employed by Geo Clark and Sons was already in Hamilton and was the first Cambridge man to sign up.

Cambridge Cavalry Volunteers

Parker, Runciman and Fisher

Parker, Runciman and Fisher

The troublous times of the 1870s led to the formation of a volunteer force of cavalry from among the settlers. Troops were formed in Cambridge, Hamilton and Te Awamutu and these proved their worth when Te Kooti was on the rampage and during the scare following the murder of Timothy Sullivan in 1873.

In Cambridge there were 60 active members of this force led by Captain James Runciman, which served for eleven years until disbanded in 1882. Lieutenants were John Fisher and Richard Parker and Sub-Lieutenants were Robert Kirkwood and William Howie.

Their great value was in the confidence given to settlers and their families and as a deterrent to any hostile action.

All members were well mounted and uniformed and armed with carbines, revolvers and swords. Regular drills and occasional field days with neighbouring troops were held.

10 Star Redoubt Cambridge NZ

Von Tempsky's Drawing of Cambridge

Von Tempsky’s Drawing of Cambridge 1864

Cambridge Redoubts

The first redoubt built by Cameron in 1864 was on either side of the Waikato River at Pukerimu (near St Peters School). When Tamihana left Te Tiki o te Ihinga-rangi at Pukekura, early 1864, the British moved in and called it ‘The Crow’s Nest’. The garrison from the 3rd Waikato regiment disliked the monotonous routine and bad food and a threatening mutiny was quelled.

Difficulty in navigating the Waikato River beyond its junction with the Karapiro Stream, led to the selection of Cambridge as the chief redoubt and headquarters of the regiment. The wide stretch of water offering good anchorage and the series of flat topped terraces suitable for defence made the site eminently suitable for a military base.

13 July 1864 Cambridge was named after the Commander in Chief of the British Army – the Duke of Cambridge and the men started building the Ten Star Redoubt. A month later headquarters moved from Pukerimu.

Gudex Memoral Maungakawa NZ

Gudex Memorial Maungakawa NZ

Gudex Memorial Maungakawa NZ

Standing at the Gudex Memorial in the Maungakawa Reserve many visitors have enjoyed the view and the peaceful surroundings. On a clear winters day you can see the snow on Mt Ruapehu and Mt Taranaki (Egmont).

The stone obelisk was erected in memory of Mr Michael Christian Gudex MBE, MA, MSc, (teacher, scientist and horticulturists) for his contribution to the preservation of New Zealand’s natural resources.

The reserve was created under the guidance of the Lands and Survey Department in 1953 and the Maungakawa Scenic Reserve Board – a voluntary group – received much benefit from foundation member, Mr Gudex in help and advice.

Seven acres were set aside from the reserve to become GudexMemorial   Park with an unveiling ceremony on 23 June 1968.

The area – the site of the former Te Waikato Sanatorium – still had evidence of the old world garden planted in the 1890’s when Mrs Sophia Thornton and her family were in residence.

Walnuts, camellias, rhododendrons and clumps of snowdrops were all mingled with the surrounding bush, and only a little landscaping and the provision of some facilities were necessary.

This has become a place of tranquil beauty with bush walks, a picnic area, native bush and birdlife, a place to contemplate, an artist’s mecca, a tourist attraction, a place to study natural science and geography.

Soft Stone Headstones

William Clare

William Clare


The soft stones of William Clare, Jane Qualtrough nee Bell and Elizabeth Williams, would disintegrate if some vandal scrubbed them with a wire brush or blitzed them with a water blaster.

Captain William Clare married Jessie Mackintosh in Bombay about 1847 and they had 3 children.

William enlisted in the 3rd Waikato Militia in 1863 arriving in Cambridge New Zealand in August 1864 with a detachment of 450 men. The land was covered with fern and ti-tree scrub and he was the first to build a permanent residence. He and his family made Cambridge their home.

William died 10 December 1878 aged 64 and was buried at the CambridgeCemetery at Hautapu. About three hundred people attended his funeral.


Jane Qualtrough, wife of Thomas, died in childbirth 13 December 1879. She was 23 years old.

“She is gone the delight of all who e’er knew her

Her remains are consigned to the dark silent tomb

She is gone and in sorrow has left us to wonder

That all flowers so fair should be nipt in thy bloom.”

Her headstone is under a camellia tree.

Mrs Elizabeth Williams nee Mata was the mother of Mrs Mary Ann Tucker and they farmed on the outskirts of Cambridge West.

Elizabeth died 19 June 1886 aged 73 years.

Side by Side

P12504900Waikato Advocate, New Zealand, 24 August 1895

‘The families of two well-known and respected residents of the Cambridge district have during the week been plunged in grief under circumstances peculiarly affecting. Late on Saturday evening Miss Kate Fitzgerald succumbed to a lingering illness – from consumption.

‘She had been engaged to Mr R B Bridgman and her rapidly failing health was not without its effect upon her lover. The shock produced upon him by her death was more than his enfeebled health could bear and he quickly followed, dying in convulsions on Monday.’

[Romeo and Juliet – surely!?  But there was no Coroners’ Report.]

‘The last offices of religion were performed by the Rev. L Hudson and the remains of the young people were buried in the one grave.’

They share the same headstone –

In Loving Memory of Katie third daughter of H & A Fitzgerald died 17 August 1895 aged 28

‘I will fear no evil for thou art with me

Thy rod and thy staff comfort me.’

Also Richard B Bridgman second son of J Bridgman died 19 August 1895 aged 29

‘’Tis but a voice that Jesus sends to call them to his arms.’


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