Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 2, Issue 5, 1993

The Militia

page 45

The Militia

When the war broke out in the North, the Auckland militia were called out. After the destruction of Kororaraka the Governor, Captain FitzRoy, ordered the militia to be called out in Wellington, New Plymouth and Nelson. A hundred men were to be balloted for. One hundred were chosen, and they were divided into two companies of fifty each. I was in No 2 Company. No 1 Company officers were: Captain, Dr Greenwood; Lieutenant, Dr Renwick; Ensign, Charles Thorpe of Motueka. No 2 Company: Captain, Dr Monro; Lieutenant, Dillon Bell; Ensign, A.L.G. Campbell; Adjutant, Major Newcome (late of the British Army); Quarter-master, Mr Seymour; Sergeant No 1 Company, Gibson; Sergeant No 2 Company, Plumbridge.

Having had four years' drill at College, I was made a Corporal. The drill ground was on the green from the Rev. Mr Reay's fence, where the Nelson Club and Newman's stables are, to Alton Street, so that we had ample ground for drilling. The reveille was at half-past five and the drill from 6 to 8 in the morning and 5 to 6 in the afternoon, so that the men could pursue their usual avocations during the day.

The uniform was a peaked cap, dark blue coat and white trousers. The arms were the old Brown Bess flintlocks, side arms, belt for bayonet, cross-belt over the left shoulder
Mrs Taylor's accommodation house, Selwyn Place. Hunter Brown Collection, Nelson Provincial Museum.

Mrs Taylor's accommodation house, Selwyn Place. Hunter Brown Collection, Nelson Provincial Museum.

page 46for cartouche box. The drill with the Brown Bess was far harder than it is with modern rifles. We also had a fife and drum band. The leader was Knapp, father of Constable Knapp, of Spring Grove. The drummer was FitzRoy, an old drummer of the Life Guards. We often marched out with fixed bayonets and the band playing.

An amusing incident took place one afternoon. Major Newcombe, who was very absent minded, gave us the order to fix bayonets and charge. We were facing the west, towards the Rev. Mr Reay's fence, and we thought we'd have a bit of fun. So we charged into the fence, smashing it. Mrs Reay came out with a supplejack, threatening to thrash a hundred men with fixed bayonets. We laughed, and told her the joke, and said we would repair her fence, and then she laughed. I think it cost us 2 pence each, but we put her up a brand new fence.

The officers had a mess-room at Mrs Taylor's, where my friend Mr Sutton now lives. The officers' pay was, Captain 10 shillings a day, Lieutenants 8 shillings a day, Ensigns 6 shillings a day. For our pay, every ten men got a 5 pound Government debenture. We called them "shin plasters", but the worst of it was nobody would cash them. The only person who would take them was a trader whose place of business was where Wilkie's stores now are, and then he would only give us 16 shillings in the pound, and take it out at that. He made 20 pounds every week besides his profits, because the debentures were worth their value at par. For payment, Customs and other duties were levied.

I bought a great many things, some of which I wanted and some I did not. On one occasion he had a large consignment of Belfast hams, so I thought I would take one. I carried it home over my shoulder. When Mr Bell saw me (I was his clerk), he said to me, "Sharp, what have you got there?" I said, "It's my week's pay, sir", and he said, "It's pretty heavy pay". It was a good ham, and we had it for breakfast several mornings. Shortly after this we were all disbanded, and I'm sorry to say that every one of my old comrades is dead, "Requiescat in pace," and I am the only survivor.

From The Colonist 27 November 1912