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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]



The Volunteer Corps of Marlborough are included in the Nelson Military District, to which special reference is made on Page 48 of this volume. The strength of the military forces of New Zealand on the 30th of June, 1905, stood as follows: Six corps of field artillery, with 436 officers and men; nine garrison artillery corps, with 876 officers and men; six corps of engineers, with 443 rank and file; seventy-three companies of mounted rifles, with 4,150 members; 123 corps of infantry, with 6,705 officers and men; sixty-five officers on the active list, unattached; five bearer corps, with 183 members; fifty-seven companies of defence cadets, with 3,006 rank and file; and five garrison bands, with 134 members. This makes the total strength of the volunteer organisation as 284 corps, and 15,998 officers and men. In addition there are 107 rifle clubs, with a membership of 2919, and the permanent force—which includes the headquarters and district staffs—of 382 officers and men. This makes a grand total of 19,299. Of the First Batallion Nelson Mounted Rifles, the A Company is represented by the page 322 Marlborough Mounted Rifles, while the B and E Companies of the First Battalion of Nelson Infantry Volunteers belong respectively to Blenheim and Picton. There are also in Blenheim two defence cadet corps, a defence rifle club, and a half battalion band. On the hillside at Tua Marina, which commands a fine view of the Wairau Plain, a massive monument marks the scene of the Wairau massacre, perpetrated on the 17th of June, 1843; and, adjoining this, a handsome memorial has been erected to the memory of the Marlborough men who fell in the late South African war.

Major D'arcy Chaytor , of the First Battalion Nelson Mounted Rifles, was born in Marlborough, in the year 1873, and is the third son of Mr. J. C. Chaytor, of “Marshlands,” Marlborough. He was educated at Nelson College, and at Clare College, Cambridge, England; afterwards learned farming; and is now (1905) manager of his father's estate. Major Chaytor joined the Marlborough Mounted Rifles
Macey, photoMajor D'arcy Chaytor and Lieut. E. W. C. Chaytor.

Macey, photoMajor D'arcy Chaytor and Lieut. E. W. C. Chaytor.

as lieutenant in the year 1895, succeeded his brother as captain of the corps in 1901. and was promoted to his present rank in 1903. He is one of the most popular and capable volunteer officers in the district; served with distinction in South Africa, in the early part of the Boer war; was in the celebrated ride to the relief of Kimberley, and has a medal and five clasps.

The Marlborough Mounted Rifles . known as A Company of the First Battalion of the Nelson Mounted Rifles, were formed in March, 1885, under the title of the Marlborough Hussars, and received their present title in the year 1891. Captain E. F. Paul was the first in command, and he was succeeded in 1886, by Lieutenant. Dodson, who retained command till 1892. Lieutenant E. W. C. Chaytor was then elected captain of the corps, and, in the year 1901, was suceeded' by his brother, Lieutenant D'arcy Chaytor, who, on his promotion to the rank of Major, was followed by Captain Canavan, the present commander of the corps. The present subalterns of the corps are: Lieutenants Prichard. Watson, and Freeth. Two parades are held monthly–one mounted, and one foot parade: and a week's encampment for training purposes is held once a year. The Marlborough Mounted Rifles sent sixty men with the various New Zealand Contingents to South Africa during the Boer war.

Captain William Scott Canavan, of the Marlborough Mounted Rifles. New Zealand Militia, joined the Nelson City Rifles in the year 1880. He was promoted to the rank of corporal, and resigned from the corps in 1881. Two years later, he joined the Blenheim Rifles. was appointed sergeant, and was transferred to the Marlborough Hussars in 1889. He resigned in the year 1892, and in 1896 joined the Marlborough Mounted Rifles with the rank of lieutenant. Captain Canavan served as lieutenant in the First New Zealand Contingent in the late South African war. and was present at many of the fiercest engagements during the earlier stages of the campaign. He returned to New Zealand in the year 1900, and on Captain Chaytor's promotion to Major, in 1903, was elected Captain of the Marlborough Mounted Rifles.

Lieutenant John Watson, of the Marlborough Mounted Rifles, was born at Dumgree station, in the Awatere, in the year 1877, and is the only son of Mr. John Watson, who is referred to in another article in this volume. He was educated in Blenheim, learned farming, and has since been engaged in agriculture, in coniunetion with his father at Spring Creek. Lieutenant Watson has been associated with volunteer corps from his boyhood. He was for some time a member of the Blenheim Borough School Cadets, and joined the Marlborough Mounted Rifles in the year 1895. Two years later, he was selected as a member of the Diamond Jubilee Contingent, and on his return to New Zealand was elected sergeant of the Marlborough Mounted Rifles. In 1900, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant-major, and in the year 1902 was elected lieutenant.

Lieutenant Ernest Freeth, of the Marlborough Mounted Rifles, was born at Picton in November, 1876, and was educated at the Picton and Blenheim public schools. He afterwards learned the trade of a painter, panerhanger, and decorator, and established himself in business on his own account in Market Street. Blenheim, in August, 1903. Lieutenant Freeth served in the First New Zealand Contingent in the South African war, and returned to his corps as a corporal. Later, he was again promoted to sergeant-major, and in that capacity went to South Africa with the Eighth Contingent. He was elected lieutenant of the Marlborough Mounted Rifles in the year 1903, shortly after his return to New Zealand. As a Freemason, Lieutenant Freeth is a member of the local lodge, and is connected with various Friendly Societies.

The Blenheim Rifle Volunteers , known as B Company of the First Battalion of the Nelson Infantry Volunteers, was formed on the 31st of October. 1876, with Captain J. T. Robinson in command. In 1887 the
Major Rogers.

Major Rogers.

membership of the corps had greatly increased, and it was decided to form another company. This company was called the Blenheim City Rifles, which, however, disbanded in the year 1898. page 323 owing to a period of unpopularity, which had greatly reduced its membership. Captain J. T. Robinson was succeeded, in turn, by Captain A. Rogers (who was promoted to the rank of Major, in 1895), Lieut. J. Fowler, and Captain Powell. Officers for the year 1905: Captain E. S. Parker and Lieutenants Rogers and O'Sullivan. Shooting is a strong point with the corps, and a large number of prizes are annually distributed for efficiency in marksmanship. In interprovincial shooting matches, the Blenheim Rifle corps has always held a creditable place, and on several occasions has succeeded in gaining first prize for volley firing. Many members of the corps have received medals for long serice, and Major Rogers has received the Victoria decoration for twenty years of service as an officer. During the late South African Boer war, the corps sent several members to the front, and one of its officers, Lieutenant (now Major) Polson, won the Distinguished Service Order. One of the members has been continuously a member since the formation of the corps in 1876; and the veteran Volunteer Harding, known all over New Zealand as a marksman, is a member of the Blenheim Rifles.
Captain Edward S'tone Parker, of the Blenheim Rifle Voluteer
Macey, photoCapt. E. S. Parker.

Macey, photoCapt. E. S. Parker.

Corps, was born in Blenheim, in November, 1875, and is the eldest son of Mr. W. B. Parker. He was educated at the local Borough School, and joined the Blenheim Rifle Volunteer corps as a private in the year 1897. Mr. Parker subsequently became, in succession, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain. He is further referred to as proprietor of Parker's Cycle and Music Depot.
Lieutenant George Winfred O'sulivan has been connected with the Blenheim Rifle Volunteer Corps since the year 1898, when he joined as a private. He subsequently became, in
Macey, photoLieut. G. W. O'Sullivan.

Macey, photoLieut. G. W. O'Sullivan.

succession, corporal, sergeant, and lieutenant. Lieutenant O'Sullivan was born near Picton, in May, 1882, and is a son of Mr. John O'Sullivan, of Blenheim. He was educated at St. Mary's Boys' School, Blenheim, was afterwards apprenticed to cabinetmaking, and has since followed his trade. Lieutenant O'Sullivan is secretary of the Blenheim Hibernian Society, and drum-major of the Hibernian Band.

Mr. Edward Charles Powell was appointed Captain of the Blenheim Rifles in August, 1898. He had been actively associated with volunteering since 1891, and was in the Borough School Cadets two years before that date. Mr. Powell was born in London, in 1874, and is a son of Mr. Edward Powell, of Westport. He came to New Zealand with his parents in 1880, by the ship “Northumberland,” was educated in Wellington and Blenheim, and served his time to surgical dentistry at Blenheim under his father. Mr. Powell was also superintendent of the Church of England Sunday school. He afterwards entered the church, and is now (1905) an Anglican clergyman in Canterbury.

The Blenheim Defence Rifle Cadet Corps was formed in November, 1901, mainly through the exertions of Major Rogers. Membership is open to all youths, over the age of fourteen years, and not under five feet in height. Parades are held weekly. The corps has a strength of fifty-six, and the commanding officers are Captain W. J. Girling, and Lieutenant G. C. Griffiths.

Captain William James Girling, who was elected to the command of the Blenheim Defence Rifle Cadet Corps in the year 1903, was born in Blenheim, in March, 1882, and is the only son of the late Mr. W. B. Girling, sometime of the firm of Messrs Girling and Co. He was educated at the Blenheim Borough School, and at the Wellington College, and afterwards entered his father's firm, of which he has since become managing partner. Captain Girling was a member of the Blenheim Borough School Cadets, and as sergeant of that corps was specially commended by Colonel Fox for his efficient service. Later, he joined the Wellington College Cadets. No. 1 Company, and afterwards assisted in the formation of the Blenheim Defence Rifle Cadet Corps, of which he became the first lieutenant, and subsequently captain. Captain Girling is captain of the Blenheim Rowing Club; and as a member of the Anglican Church, he holds office as people's churchwarden at the Church of the Nativity, Blenheim.

The Waitohi Rifles are known as the E Company of the First Battalion of Nelson Infantry Volunteers, and were formed on the 4th of April, 1900, with Dr. Owen as Acting-Captain. Dr. Owen was succeeded by Dr. Claridge, formerly a lieutenant in the Imperial Volunteer Service. In the year 1902. Captain E. G. M. C. Kenny, the present commander, was appointed. The corps has a membership of forty-eight. Drill is held fortnightly, and shooting practices take place nearly every week on the range at Waikawa, about two miles from Picton. The Waitohi Rifles took part in the military reception to the Duke of York, in Wellington and Christchurch. Several of its members saw service in the South African war, and one returned as sergeant-major. The present lieutenants of the corps are: Messrs S. Swanwick and Charles Parfitt.

Captain Edward Geils Morgan Courtenay Kenny, of the Waitohi Rifles, was born in May, 1860, in the Hutt district. Wellington. and is the eldest son of the Hon. Captain page 324 C. W. A. T. Kenny, who is further referred to in this volume as a member of the Legislative Council of New Zealand. He was educated at Picton and in Auckland, and when about twenty years of age he joined the New Zealand Armed Constabulary. Twelve months later, he resigned, was for some years with his father, farming, and then took up land on his own account in the Sounds, and commenced sheepfarming. In the year 1897, he was appointed District Land Valuer for the province of Marlborough. Captain Kenny has been twice married; in the second instance, to Miss B. Millington, daughter of Joseph Millington, esquire, of Ketley. Shropshire, England; and has one daughter.

Lieutenant Samuel Swanwick, of the Waitohi Rifles, joined the corps as a colour-sergeant at its commencement, and was elected a lieutenant in the year 1903. He is further referred to as a saddler and harnessmaker in Picton.

The Blenheim Garrison Band was founded many years ago as a Friendly Societies' band. It was, however, re-organised as a garrison band on the formation of the first military corps in Blenheim, and was appointed a half battalion band in the year 1900. It successfully took part in the contests held at Feilding during the year 1905, and in recognition of their success, the members were publicly welcomed on their return to Blenheim.

Mr. Ernest William Rose , Bandmaster of the Blenheim Garrison Band, was born at Kegworth Farm, near Blenheim, in January, 1877, and is the second son of Mr. John Rose, an old and highly respected colonist. Mr. Rose was educated at the Blenheim Borough School, afterwards learned farming, and now follows agriculture, in conjunction with his father. His private residence stands about half a mile from the Kegworth homestead. Mr. Rose has been a member of many local amateur musical societies. He joined the Garrison. Band in the year 1894, and was appointed bandmaster in March, 1901. Mr. Rose has taken part in several interprovincial musical contests, and in 1901 was a member of the Wellington Garrison Band, which accompanied the Reception Contingent to Australia.

Macey, photoMr. E. W. Rose.

Macey, photoMr. E. W. Rose.

The Blenheim Defence Rifle Club was established in August, 1904, with headquarters at Blenheim. It is composed chiefly of former members of volunteer corps, has a membership of twenty-three, and is governed by the usual rifle club regulations. Parade and shooting practices are held periodically. Captain C. J. W. Griffiths (Retired List), one of the promoters of the club, is its present captain.