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Celebrations at Manakau
A cenotaph of imposing dimensions erected in Manakau, in the main street, to perpetuate the memory of the ten lads from that township who gave their all in the Great War was unveiled yesterday morning. There was a big gathering of residents and school children by the stone when the parade of returned soldiers, including many from Otaki and Levin, marched to their station headed by the Otaki Brass Band. It was a grey, dull morning and a sombre scene. The big assembly stood bareheaded round the stone, and the only touches of colour were the Union Jack covering the face of the cenotaph and the red shoulder cape of a returned army sister, Nurse Lewis, who stood bearing a wreath, in her rightful post of honour in front of the returned men. On two sides the hills that had watched the prologue looked silently down on the epitaph.
The unveiling was performed by Mr WH Field MP., who said it was an honour and a privilege to do so and to pay homage to the lads who had given up even life itself in order that those who stayed at home might remain in comfort and security. This generation would never forget those gallant men while life lasted and there were those on any one person. The troops were set an impossible task, but such was their heroism they nearly accomplished the impossible, and the Nation could at least look back with pride on the fact that the withdrawal months later was voluntary. During those months the Turkish army was kept engaged and this, it was admitted by the Turks themselves, was of the utmost value to the Allies’ cause. That this would be the last war was the Nations’ hope, but unhappily it might some day be necessary to call on the young manhood again. If so he was sure they would respond as nobly as did those of 1914. Their sacrifices had thrown a sacred responsibility on those who came after to keep this fair country that they had died for free from internal dissension and aggression from outside. Mr Field then unveiled the stone.
In an address before dedicating the stone the Rev. GF Petrie said that in mourning the loss of these men who had given up their lives with valour, fortitude and devotion there was solace in the thought that they had gone to a higher life. He read verses 17 and 18 of the 4th chapter of the second book of Corinthians. These men he said, understood the full meaning of the adventure of life and also the still greater one of death – “Oh death where is thy sting? Oh grave where is victory?” A brief scripture reading from the 14th chapter of the book of St John was given by the Rev. RP Keall, followed by a prayer.
The hymns “O God Our Help in Ages Past”, “God of Our Fathers” and “The Nameless Graves” were sung at intervals and “Lead Kindly Light” was played by the band. After the benediction by the Rev. Mr Petrie the National Anthem was sung. Three volleys were fired by a squad of territorials from Levin after the last post had been sounded. The notes of the Reveille were the final sound.
The following names are engraved on the front of the stone:- JH Bacchus, HL Bacchus, WL Bryant, H Bates, OS Bennett, R Cole, JH Cruickshank, W D’Ath, D Horn and RHW Olliver.
On the reverse side is the cogent adjuration: “For Freedom’s cause. Sons of this place let this of you be said, that you who live are worthy of your dead. These died that you who live may reap a richer harvest ere you fall asleep.”
Among the wreaths laid on the cenotaph were some from the RSA, Manakau Soldiers’ Memorial Committee and the State School.
Otaki Mail Wednesday, April 26 1922
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