Brave, dedicated men honoured
A 21 gun salute rang out over the Tuamarina Cemetery on Wednesday in honour of the Marlborough men who fought and died in service of their country in the Second South African War.
A commemorative service was held to remember the 11 men who left New Zealand shores for a foreign land and foreign war far from their homes, but never returned.
The war, also called the Boer War, marked the first time Kiwis took part in an overseas war. While the war was ultimately created by British officials to gain control of South Africa’s rich gold and diamond deposits, for the Kiwi soldiers it was a chance to serve the British Empire.
Such was their dedication that the first men provided their own weapons, equipment and horses.
Marlborough District councillor Cynthia Brooks is the granddaughter of Lionel William Herbert Vicary, one of the men who went over to fight. She read from his diary, which gave an account of the final months of the war were he served from January to July 1902.
In it he speaks of the hardships they faced as well as the heart wrenching story of the horses they took over. ‘‘The horses played a vital role in the life of a New Zealand soldier in Southern Africa.
‘‘Despite the soldiers showing their mounts the utmost care, the voyage took its toll on the horses,’’ Cynthia says. Only one horse, named Major, ever returned home.
A final excerpt from the diary reads: ‘‘June 1st very good day. Peace was signed at 12 o’clock last night. Horse grazing in the afternoon. Church parade in the evening.’’
‘‘June 1st very good day. Peace was signed at 12 o’clock last night. ’’
LionelWilliam Herbert Vicary Marlborough RSA members Brian Selwyn, left, and John Dodson pay their respects.