Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Settler Kaponga 1881–1914 — A Frontier Fragment of the Western World

The Toll of War

The Toll of War

The death of Private H.J. Faull, who was killed in action in France, has cast a gloom over the whole district. Private Harry Faull was one of those genial, clean straight lads who endeared himself to everyone. His clean life and his love of home and mother was a great feature in Harry, and his parents have the sympathy of a very large circle of friends. Private H. Faull always took a keen interest in the affairs of this township, and was always a willing helper in everything. He was associated with the band and fire brigade, and with hockey, soccer, cricket and tennis in a most creditable manner. He will also be much missed as a worker in the Anglican Church.

Private W. Ford, who was killed at the same time as Private Faull, was an uncle of the latter. He was a great favourite in the Eltham district, and was a brother of Mrs Foreman.

Privates W. Faull and F. Ford have both been wounded and are in hospital, and I understand doing well. This will gave some idea of what some mothers and sisters have to go through—a son and a brother killed and a son and a brother wounded in one battle.

Mrs Foreman received more kindly news by a more pleasant route early in December. Kaponga's ‘A Correspondent’ (9/12/16) again:

We can well imagine the pleasure it must have given Private Faull, on his arrival at Southampton, to find himself cared for and attended to by his old friend, Dr Maclagan. In a letter received by the Rev. O.M. Stent this week, Dr Maclagan states: ‘I have actually come across one of our most devoted lads, Willie Faull. He is at present in the hospital at Brockenhurst. He was wounded in the shoulder, and a piece of shrapnel was still in it when I last attended him. But he is almost all right again, and will shortly be leaving us. Please tell his mother and all his friends that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. What a splendid, upright fellow he has developed into, and he is a lad to be proud of.’

page 333

But ‘Our Own’ a year later (5/11/17) told of deep gloom over the district at the news that Willie Faull had been killed in action at Passchendaele, and later (30/11/17) reported the memorial service in St Mark's on the afternoon of Sunday, 25 November.

In addition to the many friends who were present, the members of the Oddfellows' Lodge, headed by the Kaponga Band, of both of which institutions deceased was an enthusiastic member, paraded and attended at the church…. At the conclusion of the service the Last Post was sounded by Bandmaster Woods. The bell of the Fire Brigade, of which deceased was also a member, was tolled throughout the service.

Active, gifted young men like the Faull brothers were widely missed and mourned. Willie's death also came at a dark time for his old workplace, the co-op factory. Also killed in the Passchendaele battle was a son of the manager, R.T. Souness, who had already lost another son in action only three months earlier. And the news that Willie had fallen coincided with the death of factory secretary and much-loved local leader John Bennie. Bennie had gone to Wellington to meet his soldier son returning invalided from the front, and there caught a chill that led to his death.

We turn from the sorrows of one Kaponga family to the impact of the war on the small community of Riverlea, returned as having 134 inhabitants at the 1916 census. We do this particularly to consider what truth there is in the not uncommon view that the stay-at-homes had no idea of the grim realities of the front. As we have seen, Riverlea was hit early with the loss of James Howie at Chunuk Bair. Thereafter almost all the main afflictions of active service could be illustrated from the Riverlea ‘Our Own's’ news of men from, or connected with, the district. There were plenty of woundings. Arthur Griffin, a local farmer with a large family, won the Military Medal but became a prisoner of war in Germany. At least six men were reported killed in action. Here is a typical report: