Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 39, September 1995
By Gordon Mathieson
In response to a request for further information on a Mr Avery, featured in Journal 33 (1989) [see Journal 33: Unique and Historic Photograph of "The Gallant Six" - E], I am pleased to be able to supply some details. The article "The Gallant Six" by C W Malcolm, concerned the first six volunteers for the war in South Africa 1899 -1902. The significance was that one of the six, George Roland Bradford, aged 29, was the very first casualty in any foreign war to which New Zealand sent troops. He was wounded in a skirmish near Jasfontein on 18 December 1899 and died eleven days later behind Boer lines. The article provided details regarding five of the six, namely G R Bradford, J W Tetley, F T Shaw, Wm McPherson and P R Hubbard. The sixth, was Mr Avery about whom no details were known.
Research of the early files of "The Ohinemuri Gazette and Upper Thames Advertiser" as the Paeroa Gazette was then known, has revealed the following information. The earliest reference I found dates from August 1897, an advertisement as shown here;
AVERY BROTHERS BUILDERS, PAINTERS AND HOUSE DECORATORS
WORK AND SHOP FITTINGS A SPECIALTY
N.B. ORDERS LEFT AT MRS. DRYLAND'S, WILLIAM STREET WILL BE PROMPTLY ATTENDED TO.
This advertisement featured in the Gazette regularly until 1900, Avery Brothers being responsible for a number of buildings in the district. Two at least found mentioned in Gazette reports - both of these in 1898:
1 Construction of the second Owharoa School
2 Additions to the Waihi School of Mines
The next significant reference I found regarded the call for volunteers for the war in South Africa.
October 4, 1899
"The Paeroa Contingent" A number of members - about a dozen in all - of the Ohinemuri Rifles (No.1 Company) have offered themselves for service in the Transvaal. Amongst the volunteers are Lieutenant Avery and Sgt. Major Bradford.
October 7, 1899
The following members of the Ohinemuri Rifles (No.1 Company) have volunteered for service in the Transvaal: Sgt. Major G R Bradford, Sergeants J Hesp and W Hubbard, Lt. B R Avery, Privates F T Shaw, P R Hubbard, J W Tetley, W McPherson and J Fitness.
Yesterday afternoon word was received from Auckland that three of the above men (Privates Hubbard, Tetley and McPherson) were to leave this Saturday by the 10.30am train for Auckland.
Some of the soldiers' letters to home were published in the Gazette. One such letter appeared in the issue of May 16, 1900 giving details of their experiences. Space prevents the inclusion of the letter here, but gives the initials of the Avery Brothers. It is addressed to C Avery, and is signed by B R Avery.
It was mentioned that John William Tetley remained in South Africa after the War. So did B R Avery. A report in the Gazette of October 27, 1902, states that B R Avery was an Inspector of Works for the Government Railway at Johannesburg, having been a volunteer for the Imperial Military Railway during the War. Under the Civil administration, he was promoted to a responsible position with a large staff, Chief of which was J W Tetley, also from Paeroa.
Mr Avery made an emergency visit back to New Zealand during October 1902, for the purpose of visiting his ailing father, at Nelson. His father died on October 25, 1902.
The Gazette provided no further details from here on, but another article by C W Malcolm in this issue of the Journal fills in subsequent details. [see in this Journal: Bradford Fountain - E]
In conclusion I have recorded the dates and places of death and interment of "The Gallant Six".
1 George Roland BRADFORD, Colesberg, South Africa, 29 December 1899, aged 29.
2 Frederick Thomas SHAW, Paeroa, 5 November 1904, aged 33.
3 John William TETLEY, Waihi, 29 October 1934, aged 58.
4 Bertram Richard AVERY, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1934, aged 62
5 William McPHERSON, Auckland, 24 November 1956, aged 82.
6 Percy Richard HUBBARD, Auckland (buried at Paeroa), 1 April 1968, aged 91.
NOTE: Frederick Shaw was injured in a rock fall in the Karangahake Railway Tunnel during its construction on 18 October 1904. Another workman, Walter George Ings (from Hobart, Tasmania) aged 24, was killed instantly. Mr Shaw was taken to Thames Hospital and was on the way to recovery when he relapsed and died suddenly on the date above.