Tuesday, August 23, 2011

For Courage and Gallantry - Arrowtown Memorial

Lance Corporal James Alexander Jopp a farmer embarked on the 27 September with the 17th Reinforcements, Wellington Infantry Battalion, B Company aboard the Pakeha from Wellington.  Lance Corporal Jopp was awarded a Military Medal for his brave actions on the 4 October 1917, below is the citation from the London Gazette:

London Gazette, 17 December 1917, p13201, Rec No 1361: East of Ypres on the 4th October 1917 this stretcher bearer throughout the operations showed the greatest courage and utmost devotion to duty working in the open under heavy shellfire, bandaging, carrying, and collecting the wounded. He also collected prisoners and organised carrying parties of them to remove wounded to the Regimental Aid Post, and later when his Company was consolidating its objective, and was subjected to heavy shellfire, he never ceased to work in the open till he had the wounded under cover. His extraordinary devotion to duty in very dangerous positions was a magnificent example to his comrades.

In Glyn Harper's book 'Dark Journey' he recounts how difficult the job of the stretcher bearer was on this day:  'Working four men to a stretcher, it took about four hours to cover the 3 miles to safety'.

Lance Corporal Jopp's luck ran out on 29 August 1918 when he was killed in action at Bapaume, France

Lance Sergeant George Edward Fletcher was born in 1893 the son of William and Mary Fletcher.  His father William had been one of the early settlers to the area - arriving in the 1860's.  Lance Sergeant Fletcher was a waterside worker before enlistment and he embarked on the 6 May 1916 with the 3rd Reinforcements, New Zealand Rifle Brigade.

On 12 October 1917 when so many New Zealand soldiers were killed Lance Sergeant Fletcher won a Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Below is the citation from the London Gazette.

During the attack on the Belle Vue Spur on 12th October 1917, when all his Company Officers had become casualties, this non-commissioned officer showed the greatest contempt for danger and the greatest skill in re-organising his Platoon to renew the attack. He personally reconnoitred the position to look for a gap and in the wire, and the handling of his men during consolidation and re-organisation under heavy enemy barrage called for the greatest admiration. L.G. 14 January 1918, p847, Rec No 1508. 

After surviving the horrors of the 12 October 1917 and being awarded a Military Medal for his efforts, it is hard to be reconciled with the knowledge that just over a fortnight later Lance Sergeant Fletcher died of disease in Belgium.

Lance Sergeant Fletcher also had two brothers who served in WW1 John Benjamin Fletcher who embarked with the 37th Reinforcements on 9 May 1918 and Robert Leslie Fletcher who embarked with the 40th Reinforcements on the 10 July 1918, both survived the war.

No comments:

Post a Comment