Onehunga Presbyterian Church memorials

Roll of Honour

On 16 October 1921 the Mayor of Onehunga Mr John Park unveiled a First World War memorial roll of honour in the Onehunga Presbyterian Church. This listed nine former members of the congregation who had given their lives during the war: David C. Cole, Thomas Ernest, Leslie C. Cook, Wm. R. Friar, T.A. Keesing, Eric H. Perry, R. Searchfield, T. Searchfield and Stanley Vause. It was donated by Mr and Mrs D.G. Cole, the parents of David C. Cole.

An individual memorial to one of the above men had previously been erected on the street outside the church. In 1919 Mrs Eleanor Friar presented a drinking fountain to the people of Onehunga in memory of her son, Rifleman William Robert Friar, who had died in France in November 1917. This was formally unveiled outside the church on 24 February 1919. It was mounted on a three-foot high pedestal of New Zealand granite with the inscription:

“Erected/  in memory of / William Robert / Friar / 3rd Battalion / N.Z. Rifle Brigade / who died on 5th November / 1917 at Boulogne France / of wounds received / at Passchendaele / on  [?]th October 1917 / aged 24 years. / Pro Patria”.

Some years later (it is uncertain when) the granite base of the fountain was moved to the Waikaraka Services Cemetery, where it stands alongside the flagpole that bears the Onehunga South African War tablet.

Rifleman Friar had been a crack shot, and from December 1919 onwards the most efficient senior school cadet in the Auckland (later the Northern) Military District was presented with the William Robert Friar Memorial Prize.

Sources: ‘Fallen Soldier Honoured’, NZ Herald, 25/2/1919, p. 6; ‘Memorial Fountain: Unveiled at Onehunga’, Auckland Star, 25/2/1919, p. 2; ‘Local and General News’, NZ Herald, 17/10/1921, p. 4; History of the Onehunga Presbyterian Church, 1860-1935, Auckland, 1935, p. 12; Onehunga Presbyterian Church, 1860-1960, Auckland, 1960, p. 10; Ron Chapman, ‘Memorial to an Onehunga soldier’, Onehunga Community News, August 2008, p. 6; information from Onehunga Historical Society, 6/2/2015. 

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