100 years ago: From our archives

Children at Takitimu School, Rarotonga, demonstrate physical drill during a visit from the...
Children at Takitimu School, Rarotonga, demonstrate physical drill during a visit from the Governor-General, Lord Liverpool. — Otago Witness, 13.8.1919 COPIES OF PICTURE AVAILABLE FROM ODT FRONT OFFICE, LOWER STUART ST, OR WWW.OTAGOIMAGES.CO.NZ
Young soldier's exploits

What is claimed as being the absolute record for New Zealand was mentioned to a reporter on Friday, but the particulars of the young hero which were supplied are very vague. A certain Private Webber, of Otago, who went away very early in the war, returned to New Zealand by the transport Ruahine, arriving on January 5, 1918. It is stated that at the time of his return to New Zealand Private Webber, who had been a member of the 8th Southland Company in France, was only 16 years of age, and he had then had over two years' service to his credit.

The particulars of his case which were supplied to the reporter were that he went away from New Zealand as a member of the Expeditionary Force without letting his parents know of the fact, and it was not until his father, who was also on active service, saw the young warrior near St. Omer, in France, that any trace was found of him. Shortly afterwards the father was wounded and evacuated to England. On leaving hospital he was boarded for New Zealand, and he then went to General Richardson, in London, and asked that his son should be allowed to return with him, and this request General Richardson granted on account of the boy's age and his long service up till then. The result was that father and son returned by the Ruahine. It is stated that Private Webber was so small that it is marvellous how he managed to get passed, but it is supposed that his keenness and cheerful nature helped him considerably in getting away.

Disease notification needed

One of the suggestions placed before members of the Government by the executive of the Returned Soldiers' Association on Saturday was that notification of venereal disease should be made compulsory for civilians, as it was already compulsory for soldiers. Dr Boxer, president of the association, said there should be no difference between the soldier and the civilian in this respect. He was in favour of compulsory notification. The Hon. G. W. Russell (Minister of Public Health) said that in 1917, when he placed his Social Hygiene Bill before Parliament, he had been compelled by pressure of opinion to remove the compulsory clauses from the Bill. He was satisfied that as soon as Parliament was able to deal with the matter the compulsory clauses must be restored. He could say with the full consent of the Ministry that no condition would be imposed on soldiers that was not also imposed on civilians. The Health Department added Mr Russell, was creating an organisation for the treatment of venereal disease.

Knox memorial oaks

On Saturday morning two oaks were planted by Mrs Ross and Mrs Hewitson near the gates of Knox College in memory of the students who fell in the war. There were a number of students present, and some of the members of the College Council and their wives. The National Anthem was sung, and thereafter the president of the Students' Club (Mr E. H. Luke) read the roll of honour, which contains 22 names. In a brief address the master of the college said that the sun of these young men had gone down while it was yet day. Memory, gratitude, and love, however, might keep that sun still shining in the hearts of friends after the lapse of long years, just as the refraction of the atmosphere kept the sun shining in the heavens when it had actually sunk below the horizon.

- ODT, 11.8.1919

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