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The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1931

"The Great White Homes and the Riders Bold"

page 28

"The Great White Homes and the Riders Bold"

  • T. P. Rollings, M.Sc., Skipper of the "Windward."
  • C. A. Steele, B.Sc., Mate.
  • D. A. Graham.
  • A. H. Irwin, B.Sc.

When the yacht "Windward" sailed out tinder Pencarrow Head last Christmas Day she had as her crew four students of this College, men as fine as ever entered its doors. They had, as now we know, passed those doors for the last time, though their brave spirits, it is good to think, still move from room to room in the old familiar scenes they knew and loved. Their boat was sound and good, well proved on many a stormy trip, well-found in every respect for a long voyage. And she was very capably manned. Rollings had taken a course in navigation, and all had good experience for men so young. All, too, were good athletes, knowing how to bear hardship and being men of resource. On playing fields and the boxing floor, on cruise and tramp, in camp and bivouac, they had not only known the joy of sunshine and fair weather, but had learnt to endure hardship and exertion as coming in the guise of rough but welcome friends, to bear with smile and jest the dragging exhaustion of fatigue and the biting of the sleet-laden wind. Happy Alma Mater that had such students, that still has many of them!

And now these four had prepared for another adventure such as daring spirits love. Bold riders of the great white horses in the stormy narrow seas, they would now essay to ride them in the openwaste of waters that lies between us and the Chatham Islands. They left nothing to chance, for they recognised that, though high adventure is the right of a man, he has no right to be a fool; that, though he is entitled to be "bold even to daring" he is not entitled to be Daring's slave.

After a very good passage, though not without storm and incident, they made, on New Year's Day, their landfall as accurately as ever it has been made by navigators that have had long experience of that passage. After five days ashore, which those that know the beauty and interest of the islands and the hospitality of the Islanders can well understand were happy days enough, they left on the morning of January 6th for home and the duties that, it then seemed, life held for them. Unusually stormy weather prevailed a few days later off the coast of New Zealand, and there is no doubt that they met it. Those that knew them know that they fought it with skill and courage, but the odds were too unequal, and our gallant fellows died as men die.

We feel keenly the loss of friends and men that had shown themselves worthy students of their College, and we are able to realise, to some slight extent, how much more keenly that loss is felt by those to whom these men were especially dear. To them our deepest, warmest sympathy is drawn, and it will be with them for many a day. Such wrenchings of the heart as they have 'borne, as they still bear, call for a reverent respect and a sympathy that does not always dare to voice itself lest it should seem to presume. There is quoted here a verse, written by the father of one of the men, that would bring this aspect home to us if we were not already fully conscious of it:—

"When day is done, and evening calm
Broods o'er the landscape fair,
When night comes as a healing balm
To soothe each want and care—
'Tis then my heart in poignant grief
Calls out, my boy, for thee:
Its echo rings from reef to reef,
O bring him back to me."

The memory of these men will long be cherished here, for they have done their share in mculding the high traditions of the College and in making it a place where true adventurous soul shall know that this is home. And always we shall think of them, as of that Antarctic hero and his comrades, as very gallant gentlemen.

—H. B. K.