Hokitika war ef fort remembered

Janna Sherman
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Hokitika yesterday to mark exactly 100 years since the first Westland contingent left for battle in World War One.
About 50 people filed into the Carnegie Gallery for the commemoration, organised by the museum and RSA.
RSA president Lyall Delore led a minute’s silence for the troops, and bugler Drew Howat played the Last Post, followed by the Revellie. Returned servicemen Colin Growcott and Colin Adams lowered the flag and read the Ode.
Mr Delore and museum director Julia Bradshaw both spoke, tying in ‘The First Farewells’ exhibition, now open to remember the first departures as part of the 1914-18 war centennial.
Ms Bradshaw said the focus of the exhibition was the Westland men who left Hokitika on August 14, 1914 to become part of the Main Body — the first group of troops who left Wellington for Egypt aboard 10 troop ships on October 16 that year.
Ninety-six men from Westland were in the initial recruitment, although not all departed from Hokitika. “Today is about commemorating the Westland men who so quickly volunteered to defend the British Empire. The average age of the first Westland volunteers was 25 years. Of the 96 men who sailed away on October 16, 1914, 28 were killed in action or died of wounds, 55 were wounded or hospitalised due to illness, with only 13 returning physically unscathed,” Ms Bradshaw said.