Wendon Church memorials

Wendon Church memorials Wendon Church memorials Wendon Church memorials

The Wendon Presbyterian Memorial Church was dedicated to the memory of the ten young men from the district who made the supreme sacrifice during the First World War (Lieutenant Peter Mackay, Private John Campbell, Private David Fowler, Trooper George Fowler, Trooper Herbert R. Hamilton, Corporal James H. McDonald, Rifleman John Mackay, Trooper Alexander C. Robertson, Trooper Edmund Walker and Trooper William A. Walker). The opening service was held on 23 September 1923. Three days later a marble tablet inscribed with the names of the fallen was unveiled on the front exterior wall. After the Second World War, a wooden memorial tablet to Private Joseph Robert Baird (d. 1941) was also unveiled within the church.

Regular Sunday services in the church ceased about 2000. However, although the church no longer functioned as a place of worship, every Anzac Day a wreath was placed beside the memorial in honour of the fallen.

On 1 July 2018 the church was deconsecrated by the Riversdale-Waikaia Presbyterian parish. The building was demolished in March 2019, and members of the Wendon community built a new memorial on the site. This was unveiled on Anzac Day 2019. It incorporated both the original First World War roll of honour and two smaller tablets tablet honouring Trooper William Earle, who had died in the South African War, and Joseph Baird. Mounted on top was a Celtic cross which symbolised the Scottish heritage of many of the early Wendon settlers and linked the new memorial to the former memorial church.

Twelve trees were planted nearby in honour of each of the men listed on the memorial. Information boards are shortly to be erected on the site (May 2019).

The original memorial to Joseph Robert Baird now hangs in the Wendon hall, as does an honours board listing all the soldiers from the district who served in the First World War, with photographs of those who died. There is a memorial tablet for William Earle in St Mark’s Anglican Church, Riversdale.

Sources: ‘News in brief’, Otago Daily Times, 21/9/1923, p. 12; Wendon School 1890-1990 and District, ed. D.R. Wing, Wendon, 1991, p. 106;  ‘Plans afoot for site of former church’, Ensign, 8/7/2018; ‘Wendon’s fallen soldiers to be remembered with new war memorial’, Southland Times, 24/4/2019;  ‘Old and new memorials celebrated in rural Southland’, Southland Times, 25/4/2019; other information kindly provided by Doug Wing, May 2019.

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