Wednesday, August 3, 2011

12 October 1917 - New Zealand's 'Blackest Day' - Rakaia Memorial

As mentioned several times in this blog the 12 October 1917 was a dreadful day for New Zealand in terms of casualties, Rakaia was yet another New Zealand town which suffered losses on this day.  Below are the men who died in the attack on Bellevue Spur, Passchendaele:

Percy James Benbow was farewelled with a social and dance on the 6 January 1917 before leaving for camp and finally embarking aboard the Navua from Wellington on the 16 January 1917.  He was initially wounded on the 9 August 1917 but was soon back in the field with the Canterbury Infantry Regiment.  He was intially reported missing and then reported killed in action on 12 October 1917. He was 28 years old and is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

William Croy a ploughman from Chertsey, Canterbury was originally from the Orkney Islands.  He was given a send off by the people of Chertsey on 23 June 1916 where he was presented with a 'luminous wristlet watch and a pair of military hairbrushes, suitably inscribed' . I wonder where these gifts are today?  (I am not sure how soldiers today would feel about being presented with military hairbrushes before leaving for duty overseas).  William Croy embarked from New Zealand aboard the Tofua from Wellington on the 11 October 1916.  Almost one year to the day later he died of wounds received on the 12 October 1917 aged 33. He was serving with the Otago Infantry Regiment and is buried at Passchendaele New British Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Frederick Morey of Rakaia embarked on the 14 February 1915 from Wellington with the 3rd Reinforcements. He served at Gallipoli where he was wounded. He was also struck down with illness in Egypt.  Morey was invalided to the UK where he spent nearly 12 months.  He had only just returned to duty when he was killed in action on the 12 October 1917 and is also remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

John Thomas Pluck was the youngest of the eight sons of Charles & Caroline Pluck.  Before enlistment he worked as a shop hand in the family store in Rakaia.  He embarked on the 8 January 1916 aboard the Manganui from Wellington with the 9th Reinforcements Canterbury Mounted Rifles, C Squadron.  Pluck served at Gallipoli, the Somme and Messines before dying of wounds received on the 12 October 1917. On his military record it states that he was buried in the field at Bellevue Spur, however it seems his body was never recovered as he is remembered today at the Tyne Cot memorial.

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