Home' Greymouth Star : September 30th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1935 - Porgy and Bess, a folk opera by US
composer George Gershwin, has its premiere
1939 - Britain sends a 150,000-man force to
France after the start of World War Two.
1952 - Motion picture process Cinerama,
using three cameras, three projectors and
a deeply cur ved viewing screen,
debuts with the premiere of This Is
Cinerama in New York City.
1955 - Actor James Dean is
killed in a two-car collision near
1958 - Soviet Union resumes
1966 - German war criminals
Albert Speer and Baldur von Schirach are freed
at midnight from Spandau prison after ser ving
20 years imprisonment; Republic of Botswana
gains independence from Britain.
1968 - The Flintstones premieres on
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Hans Wilhelm Geiger, German physicist
(1882-1947); Park Chung-hee, South Korean
president (1917-1979); Deborah Kerr,
Scottish-born actress (1921-2007); Truman
Capote, US author (1924-1984);
Angie Dickinson, US actress
(1931-); Cissy Houston, US
singer (1933-); Marc Bolan, of
T-Rex pop group (1947-1977);
Ehud Olmert, former Israeli
Prime Minister (1945-); Fran
Drescher, US actress (1957-);
Monica Bellucci, Italian actress
(1964-); Martina Hingis, Swiss
tennis player (1980-); Cecelia Ahern, Irish
“After three days without reading, talk
becomes flavourless.” — Chinese proverb.
“A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth
invites a beating.” — Proverbs 18:6
A man qualified as
an English chartered
accountant has been
appointed as the new
town clerk of Greymouth. He is 53-year-old
Mr Graham Charles Hayter, at present West
Coast district audit inspector and a local
resident since early in 1960.
Mr Hayter came to New Zealand on holiday,
but stayed to work. He joined the Health
Department in Christchurch in 1957 and was
transferred to Greymouth in January 1960.
In March 1962, he joined the local Audit
A married man, Mr Hayter was an active
climber in his youth, scaling many peaks in
Europe, but work now allows him little time
to follow recreational pursuits. It is not known
when he will take up his council post.
The death occurred suddenly last night
of Mr John Neville Skinner, a well-known
Greymouth resident. He was in his 59th year.
Mr Skinner was born at Blackball and at an
early age went to live in Reefton. As a young
man he was employed in the coalmining
industry. He then went to Nelson Creek
following the timber industry. For the past
eight years he had been sales representative for
the Grey River Argus.
Mr Skinner collapsed last evening on Cobden
beach and died before he could be admitted to
Mr Skinner was a keen sportsman
throughout his life. He was a rugby league
player in his younger days and an administrator
of the Marist Rugby League Club.
Mr Skinner is sur vived by his wife Peggy, one
daughter Margaret (Mrs P Stewart, Hokitika);
two sons, George (Waitaha) and Brother John
(Sacred Heart College, Auckland).
uFood for thought
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Death on duty
onstable Murray Stretch
was relaxing at home on the
couch watching rugby league
in front of the fire when he
got the call that led to his
It was Wednesday, May 26, 1999 and as
the 38-year-old Mangakino cop settled in
for a night of State of Origin on television,
a dairy down the road was burgled.
Mr Stretch, a father of two, was sent to
investigate. He spotted 19-year-old Carlos
Namana at the scene and looked through
his bag, which was filled with stolen
potato chips and chewing gum.
Namana fled and Mr Stretch gave
chase, catching the teenager near the
old Mangakino Hospital. But Namana
overpowered Mr Stretch and attacked
him, beating him and stomping on the
policeman’s head repeatedly.
Workers from a nearby hotel tried
desperately to save Mr Stretch, but he had
extensive head injuries and died at the
Mr Stretch is one of 29 officers who have
been killed in the line of duty as a result
of a criminal act. They, alongside police
staff who have died in the past year, were
remembered yesterday at ser vices around
New Zealand as part of Australasian and
South Pacific Police Remembrance Day.
For Mr Stretch’s sister Winsome, it will be
a bittersweet day. “It ’s actually my birthday.
The first remembrance ceremony we went
to was for the unveiling of Murray ’s plaque
at Police College. It was my birthday that
day too. I will celebrate my birthday, but I
will be thinking of Murray.”
Ms Stretch spoke to her brother just
before he was sent to investigate the
“He was at home, talking to me and
lying on the couch in front of the fire. He
said, ‘I’ve got to go, sis, love you, the State
of Origin is starting’,” she recalled.
“I said, ‘Okay, love you too, bye’. A while
later, another brother rang me and said,
‘Murray ’s been killed’.”
Ms Stretch replied “Murray who?”, not
comprehending that the man she had
chatted to earlier could be anywhere but
on the couch watching his beloved league.
“He said, ‘O ur Murray ’. I couldn’t
imagine how he could have been killed
lying on the couch at home. My brother
said Murray had been called out and had
been murdered. ”
Ms Stretch said her brother’s death was
“There aren’t any words to describe
it. Nothing prepares you for it. There’s
nothing like it.”
Fifteen years on, Mr Stretch’s family are
His sister said he did not hesitate to
respond to the call — he never did.
“I think police officers will always go
and always try to help. There are many
situations that every police officer faces
that they think, ‘This could be dangerous’.
But every time they go out and rise to the
Ms Stretch said she supported
Remembrance Day and hoped it gave
people an insight into how lucky they were
to have police men and women protecting
Carlos Namana pleaded guilty to murder
and was sentenced to life imprisonment
with a minimum non-parole period of 16
years. He will be considered for parole in
Fallen since 2002. —
Senior constable Len Snee — May 7,
Shot and fatally wounded while carrying
out a routine search warrant at the home
of Jan Molenaar.
Sergeant Don Wilkinson — September
11, 2008, Mangere.
Undercover officer fatally shot while
trying to install a tracking device on a
vehicle outside a suspected P lab.
Sergeant Derek Wootton — July 11,
2008, Titahi Bay.
Struck by a vehicle as he laid road spikes
to stop a vehicle being pursued by police
after a serious assault and carjacking.
Detective constable Duncan Taylor —
July 5, 2002, Rongotea.
Shot and killed when he and his partner
attempted to stop a juvenile to question
him about a property offence.
The fallen. —
Senior constable Len Snee, May 7,
2009, Napier. Shot and fatally wounded
while carrying out a routine search
warrant at the home of Jan Molenaar.
Sergeant Don Wilkinson, September
11, 2008, Mangere. Undercover officer
fatally shot while trying to install a
tracking device on a vehicle outside a
suspected P lab.
Sergeant Derek Wootton, July 11,
2008, Titahi Bay. Struck by a vehicle as
he laid road spikes to stop a vehicle being
pursued by police after a serious assault
Detective Constable Duncan Taylor,
July 5, 2002, Rongotea. Shot and killed
when he and his partner attempted to
stop a juvenile to question him about a
Constable Lester Murray Stretch, May
26, 1999, Mangakino. Beaten to death as
he tried to arrest a youth who had burgled
a local store.
Constable Glenn Arthur McKibben,
April 21, 1996, Flaxmere. Shot by an
occupant of a passing vehicle while
standing beside his patrol car.
Sergeant Stewart Graeme Guthrie,
November 13, 1990, Aramoana. One of
12 people killed by David Gray who went
on a shooting rampage in the small Otago
town. Posthumously awarded George
Senior constable Peter Morris Umbers,
May 27, 1990, Ranfurly. Fatally bashed
with his own baton when he stopped a
robbery suspect. Posthumously awarded
Tra ffi c officer Robin James Dudding,
April 7, 1986, Rotorua Shot dead after
he was taken hostage at Lake Rotoiti
by a teen who fired shots at police.
Posthumously awarded George Medal.
Tra ffi c officer Barry Yorston Gibson,
June 13, 1977, New Plymouth. Assaulted
by a man at a routine traffic stop. He never
regained consciousness and died of head
injuries a week later.
Constable Peter William Murphy,
September 25, 1976, Invercargill. Shot by a
man during the burglary of a sports shop.
Sergeant Gilbert Peter Arcus, February
4, 1970, Tauranga. While trying to placate
a mentally disturbed woman, he was
assaulted and suffered a skull fracture and
died an hour later.
Constable Donald Richard Stokes,
August 15, 1966, Dunedin. While trying
to prevent the escape of two prisoners he
was beaten to death with a broom handle
at the D unedin police cells.
Constable Bryan Leslie Schultz and
constable James Thomas Richardson,
February 3, 1963, Lower Hutt. Fatally
shot while still in their vehicle outside an
address where a domestic dispute had been
reported. Both men died instantly.
Detective sergeant Neville Wilson
Po wer and Detective Inspector Wallace
Chalmers, January 6, 1963, Waitakere
Ranges. Shot dead while attending a
shooting in west Auckland. Both were
posthumously awarded Queen’s Police
Sergeant William Shore Hughes, May
27, 1951, Otaki. Shot dead as he tried to
protect female occupants of a house from
an armed man during a domestic dispute.
Tra ffi c officer John Kehoe, January
31, 1949, Whakatane. Fatally shot after
pursuing a motorcycle from the main
street to outside the town for excess speed.
Constable Edward Mark Best, sergeant
William Cooper, constable Frederick
William Jordan, and constable Percy
Campbell Tulloch, October 11, 1941,
Koiterangi, near Hokitika. Shot dead
while trying to apprehend farmer Stanley
Graham. Best died three days later, the
others died instantly. Graham killed eight
people in total.
Constable Thomas Heeps, October
21, 1934, Hamilton. He located a man
being sought for killing four people in the
Otorohanga area and was shot twice while
attempting to return him to the police
Constable James Dorgan, August 27,
1921, Timaru. Shot four times while
investigating a shop burglary and died at
the scene 15 minutes later.
Constable John Doyle, October 6, 1919,
Manawatu. Assaulted and died two days
later as a result of the injuries he had
Constable Vivian Dudding, October
6, 1919, Wellington. While attending a
domestic dispute, he was shot in the head
by the woman’s ex husband.
Sergeant John Patrick Hackett
McGuire, April 14, 1910, Palmerston
North. Shot in the stomach during the
hunt for an escaped burglar, he died four
Constable Neil McLeod, July 30, 1890,
Dargaville. A man who had been removed
from a passenger steam ship responded
by shooting at the vessel with a pistol
as it departed . He fatally wounded Mr
McL eod. — APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Letters to mum reveal sense of wonder
Trooper Ralph (Mick) Newton’s series
of letters to his mum told the story of his
They tell of the wonder of a 21-year-old
from Gisborne at seeing the world, the
tedium of waiting to go into battle and his
enthusiasm for the fight.
The letters to his mother Annie began
on February 17, 1915, while he was aboard
the troopship Aparima and are abridged
“A further day over and still alive and
kicking . . . The tucker we’re having is very
The menu included “lashings of pickles
at all three roast beef, plum duff and
As was typical he signed off with “love to
all, your son Mick”.
Barely out of his teens, he was a driver
at a quarry on the outskirts of Gisborne
when he joined up in December 1914.
After training at Trentham he was in
the third wave of reinforcements for the
Gallipoli-bound Wellington Mounted
Rifles, first stop Albany in south-west
Australia then Colombo in then Ceylon,
before the big New Zealand staging camp
Life aboard what was the slowest ship
in the four-vessel convoy was mainly
tedious and he mused about food and
sent frequent requests for socks from
his mother — on her own in the tiny
township of Muriwai 25km south of
“The Government ones are done and
those we get in the canteen are very
poor quality,” he wrote while steaming
up the Australian coast in late February,
adding: “One man deserted at Albany
and another put ashore sick making two
less to feed.”
The weather was heating up, a horse died,
Mick’s horse was very sick and he had his
first feed of tripe.
Near the Cocos Island he wrote how
flying fish were landing on the deck and
on March 7 described the “sad sight” of
a Maori soldier who died of pneumonia
aboard another ship being lowered into
the sea and “the last post was blown on all
From Colombo on March 12 he wrote
of visiting a Buddhist temple and a
rickshaw ride which ended badly for
the driver after a run-in with a local
After setting off from Colombo on
March 19 one man died of sunstroke.
“ We also saw a big school of porpoises,
they travelled on each side of the boat for
a good way until some of D Squadron
started target practice. They went a lot
faster when the chaps started firing at
He reached Zeitoum Camp near Cairo
in late March, described a visit to “ Virgin
Mary’s Well” and the tree she was said
to have sheltered under on the way to
He also got leave to visit the pyramids
and the Sphinx which was “very well
car ved. I will get a photograph of it
for you”, and he went on to describe
clambering through the neighbouring
temple to the burial chamber of a king.
“Life altogether is twice as easy as it was
in Trentham. The tucker is good. ”
On April 7: “Dear Mum: I am sending
you a few beads out of an old Egyptian
grave. They are the genuine article as I
saw them dug out myself.” He went on
to say: “ The infantry left tonight for the
Dardanelles. We do not know when we are
to get a shift. I will close now as I want to
see the infantry march out.”
On April 17 he wrote: “Second
reinforcements of infantry have left for
the Dardanelles. There is no sign of any us
mounteds going away yet, in fact I think
we are here for life. ”
Letters from his mother had not reached
him since he left Trentham “so I am
looking for ward to one shortly. I sent you
a silk scarf — hope you get it safely. I am
your loving son, Mick.”
Then on what was to become Anzac
Day he described what had been a
deserted camp getting lively once more,
flies that were very bad and clouds of
He sent another plea for socks; “We
cannot get wool sox at any price here. ”
Zealand and Australian troops were
“according to camp reports making a great
name for themselves”.
But a hotel at nearby Heliopolis had
been converted into a hospital and “there
were a terrible lot killed and wounded”.
June 17: “ The last three days have
averaged 116degF (46.6degC) in the
shade. There were five deaths from
sunstroke among the English. ”
August 8: “ The captain of our old
football team arrived here in the 5th
Infantry. We expect to go away in a few
days now and we’ll not be sorry I can tell
August 13: “I do not know whether
you sent them I will get them over at the
Dardanelles as the mail is more regular
there than here.
“Some good news has been given out to
us on parade about the Dardanelles but
as it has not been published in the paper
yet I had better not say anything as all our
letters are censored.
“ I am in the next lot for the Dardanelles
— we areleavinginafewdaysandIcan
tell you that I am not sorry to get out of
August 20 from the SS Melville near
Lemnos Island in Greece: “ The harbour
is a grand sight. I saw my first submarine
“ We have had a good time on this boat
so far, plenty of tucker.
“ I do not know when we are leaving here
so good luck to all. Your son, Mick.”
This was the last letter Annie Newton
received from her son.
About September 22 there was a flurry
of telegrams through the Post Office at
Muriwai informing her he had been killed
at Gallipoli on August 27.
Included was a message sent on behalf
of King George V “to assure you of
the true sympathy of His Majesty” and
another sent by Prime Minister William
Massey who said she would “derive some
consolation in the fact that your son
bravely gave his life for his country and
Then came letters from his mates.
On November 6 Frederick McKinstry
wrote to Annie.
“ We miss him no little and also many
others from Gisborne who fell on the
fateful 27th August. I am sorry to say I did
not see him after the charge. I was lucky
enough to get right through but others
how he fought and died. In one spot he
and two Australians got to it and although
the three were killed so also were a dozen
Trooper George Bartels worked with
Mick in the Matawhero gravel pits for
the Gisborne Borough Council and wrote
on March 30 the following year: “It was
terribly hard luck for him. He was always
so keen to get into the firing line and
to have a real good go. He had his wish
fulfilled poor lad but it was his first and
Mick was killed during the battle for
what historians say was a strategically
unimportant bump in the landscape,
generously called Hill 60.
The official record of the Wellington
Mounted Rifles tells of trenches filled so
deep with dead bodies on the night of
August 27 that it was difficult to evacuate
British historian Robert Rhodes
James later wrote: “For connoisseurs of
military futility, valour, incompetence and
determination, the attacks on Hill 60 are
in a class of their own.”
Mick Newton does not have a grave on
Hill 60 but is listed on a squat memorial
there and on the wall of the Auckland
War Memorial Museum.
A soldier with him that night later
told his half brother Jack Newton the
impression that Mick took out many
Turks during his brief charge was not right
— he died without firing a shot.
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: Janna Sherman
West Coast police officers attend a memorial ser vice at Kowhitirangi yesterday for staff killed on duty. Kowhitirangi, then called Koiterangi, was the scene of four police
deaths in October 1941, shot by farmer Stanley Graham.
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