Whāngārei NZ Railways roll of honour board

Memorial

0n 4 August 1920 Whāngārei’s mayor, J.S. Dent, unveiled a roll of honour board at the town's railway station in honour of members of the Whāngārei-Kawakawa section of New Zealand Railways (NZR) who had served during the First World War. This was funded entirely by contributions from their colleagues. A report in the following day's Northern Advocate described the ceremony:

During the interim between the departure of the North-bound train at 4.30 p.m. and the 5 o'clock to Onerahi yesterday, the members of the Whangarei railway section staff, a considerable number of friends, and the general public assembled on the platform to partake in the unveiling ceremony of a very handsome Roll of Honour. The memorial took the form of a large stone tablet, and it was subscribed for only between railway men, and only between those of the staft of the Whangarei-Kawakawa section, who had not themselves been on active service overseas.

Local stonemasons designed and made the board of New Zealand marble. The top is inscribed with ‘Not for ourselves alone’ and the following:

Members of the Railway Staff of the Whangarei-Kawakawa section who joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 1914–1919

In the middle are panels with the names of 45 local staff – the seven who lost their lives are denoted with a cross. Among them is Australian-born Grahame Heard, a surfaceman from Onerahi who became a sergeant in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. After being awarded the Military Medal for acts of gallantry during the Messines offensive in June 1917, he was killed in action at Polygon Wood on 22 November that year.

The bottom of the board is inscribed with ‘Lest we Forget’. The design also features scrolls, pillars, arches and ferns. The board is now held by the Whāngārei Museum and Heritage Park.

During this period the Railways Department was developing a post-war plan to commemorate all railwaymen who died on 15 roll of honour boards around the country. Eventually all NZR staff who fell, including those listed on the Whāngārei board, were commemorated on a national roll of honour board unveiled at the department's head office in 1922.

 

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