Home' Greymouth Star : October 17th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1777 - American rebels capture 5000 British
soldiers at the Second Battle of Saratoga.
1849 - Frederic Chopin, composer and
pianist, dies of tuberculosis in Paris.
1854 - British and French forces
begin siege of Sebastopol in
the Crimea; Miners burn down
Eureka Hotel, Ballarat, after court
dismisses murder charges against
hotelier James Bentley, accused of
kicking a young miner to death.
1855 - Englishman Henry
Bessemer patents his process for making steel.
1902 - The first Cadillac motor car is made
1931 - US gangster Al Capone receives 11-
year prison sentence for income tax evasion.
1933 - Albert Einstein arrives in the United
States as a refugee from Nazi Germany.
1945 - Colonel Juan Peron stages coup in
Buenos Aires and becomes absolute dictator
1979 - Mother Teresa wins the Nobel Peace
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Rita Hayworth, US actress (1918-1987);
Montgomery Clift, US actor (1920-1966);
Evel Knievel, US motorcycle
daredevil (1938-2007); Les Murray,
Australian poet (1938-); Drusilla
Modjeska, Australian writer (1946-
); Margot Kidder, US-Canadian
actress (1948-); Ziggy Marley,
Jamaican singer (1968-); Ernie
Els, South African golfer (1969-);
Eminem, US rapper (1972-): Dami
Im, Korean-born Australian singer (1988-).
“The whole problem with the world is that
fools and fanatics are always so certain of
themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”
— Bertrand Russell, British author
“The light shines in the darkness, and the
darkness did not overcome it. ” — ( John 1:5).
Last Friday the
published a vintage
photograph of a
conference of the old West Coast Farmers’
Union, the precursor to Federated Farmers,
held here in 1925. The photograph was
submitted by a former Coaster Mr Jim
Mulcare who has been commissioned by
Federated Farmers to write a history of the
Of the 20 men pictured Mr Mulcare knew
of only two still living — himself and Mr W
Cowan. However, information received by the
Star today reveals that not only alive but still
very active are another two members of the old
Mr George R Northcroft, of Whataroa, is
still very much alive. He has only recently
returned from a trip overseas. Mr H Dehn,
who also represented Waiho-Whataroa in the
1925 meeting, is not only alive but in a steady
job. The father of Mr C H Dehn, of Moana,
Mr Dehn senior works at RNZAF Wigram.
Continuing the Greymouth Borough
Council’s struggle to have Maori leasehold
property made freehold will be Cr O H
Jackson and town clerk Mr G C Hayter at
the South Island Local Bodies’ Association
conference in Alexandra. The conference will
On the Maori lease issue the Greymouth
remit reads: “ That the South Island Local
Bodies’ Association make representations to
the Government to freehold Maori leases
where this would assist in the development of
Most other West Coast local bodies will be
represented at the conference; the Grey County
Council’s delegate being Mr M K Molloy.
uFood for thought
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hen Lenin and the
power in the name
of the Soviets in
October 1917, they
only Russian history but also 20th century
Western governments viewed the
Bolsheviks, who renamed themselves
Communists in 1918, with great suspicion.
They were fearful that if communism
spread it would spell the end of the
capitalist system of power, privilege and
wealth from which they benefited.
The western press largely toed the
line, portraying Bolsheviks as ‘’inhuman
monsters’’ and emphasising the leaders’
Jewish origins and ‘unnatural’ ideas.
The Allied powers reacted with military
inter vention in Russia between 1918 and
New Zealanders were involved in the
campaign in northern Russia, a largely
forgotten war that became known as
‘Churchill’s War’ and ‘The Great Russian
In Russia, with World War One still
in progress, Lenin’s first priority was
to preser ve the revolution. The most
immediate external threat was the
Imperial German Army. So, the Treaty of
Brest-Litovsk was negotiated.
Inside Russia, a civil war was in progress.
There were several opposition forces —
White armies led by Tsarist generals,
a variety of anti-Bolshevik and ethnic
separatist militias and a Czechoslovak
Legion stranded in Central Asia that took
control of the trans-Siberian Railroad.
Winston Churchill, who was then
Britain’s secretary of war, was an
enthusiastic supporter of inter vention in
A crucial element of the plan was to
mount a secret mission of more than 1500
soldiers, the North Russian Expeditionary
Force (NREF), which would have have
The first was to secure the northern
ports of Murmansk and Archangel. These
ports had come under the nominal control
of Germany after the peace treaty was
signed with the Bolsheviks. That was a
concern to the Allies because the ports
were laden with munitions and equipment
previously sent by them to equip tsarist
armies, weapons which they did not want
in German hands.
The NREF was then to train Russian
volunteer soldiers, make contact with the
stranded Czechs, and put the two together
as a fighting force.
They were also to give aid to White
armies in their goal of overthrowing the
fledgling Bolshevik government. If this
was successful, it would achieve the twin
aims of suppressing communism and
bringing Russia back into the war against
Among the NREF force in Archangel
were four New Zealanders, sergeants
H Perry and T W MacLean, of the 2nd
Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment,
R McCready, of the 1st Battalion
Auckland Infantry Regiment, and
A F Burke, of the 2nd Battalion Otago
They had all seen ser vice elsewhere and
had volunteered in Britain for this secret
mission without knowing where they
would be going.
The force was ill-prepared to face a
northern Russian winter. So, Antarctic
explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton visited to
Shortly after the NREF landed in
Archangel, it was reinforced by about
24,000 soldiers from Britain, the United
States, France, Italy and the region of
It was not difficult for the New
Zealanders and other trainers to convince
many of the 23,000 Red Army prisoners
held in the area to fight against their
former army. They would be better treated,
equipped and fed and, when they got
back to the frontline, could quite likely
escape back to their own lines and
Sergeant Burke, who was originally from
Australia, was made a captain and put in
charge of a regiment of former Red Army
For his heroism on the battlefield, on
September 25, 1918, Capt Burke was
awarded a Military Medal for Gallantry
and the St George’s Cross 4th Class.
His comrade in arms, T W MacLean,
suffered a somewhat different fate, being
discharged from action after contracting
He was one of many. By March, 1919,
the American hospital at Archangel alone
reported 129 cases of gonorrhea and 54
cases of syphilis.
Captain Burke was well liked by his
men. Most were not so lucky or skilled.
Mutinies became a common occurrence in
northern Russia, not just within newly-
conscripted or recruited troops, but also
within Allied forces.
During the 12 months to August, 1919,
among White troops alone, there were 18
recorded incidents ranging from reluctance
to advance to killing British officers and
deserting to the Red Army.
By this time there was a total foreign
force of about 200,000 in the whole of
Russia. But the only inter ventionists who
were making any real headway were the
Japanese in the Far East provinces.
The success of the inter vention became
On March, 1919, the decision was made
by the British War Office to withdraw
from northern Russia.
Overthowing the Communists, however,
remained on Churchill’s agenda.
To achieve that, while also facilitating
the orderly evacuation from northern
Russia, it was decided that an 8000-strong
Northern Russia Relief Force (NRRF)
would be formed.
The NRRF was to mask the evacuation
by launching a large-scale offensive against
the local Red Army. This took place on
August 10, 1919.
The Bolshevik troops were taken by
surprise. That aided the evacuation but did
little to unseat Lenin.
Several New Zealand soldiers were
among those who volunteered for the
NRRF. Others ser ved with Royal Navy
and Royal Air Force units in northern
Among them was Charles Roderick Carr
(later Air Marshall Sir Charles Roderick
Carr), of Fielding, ser ved with distinction
as a member of the RAF and was awarded
the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Another worthy of mention was Frank
Arthur Worsley, of Akaroa, who had
worked with Shackleton in the Antarctic,
was awarded a bar on his Distinguished
Ser vice Order and was awarded the
Imperial Russian Order of St Stanislas for
courage and heroism.
In New Zealand, reaction to the
inter vention and involvement of New
Zealand soldiers was minimal. One official
response lauded Allied inter vention forces
for attempting to free Russia from the
Communists. But there was little other
mention. That is understandable; the New
Zealand soldiers were in Russia as part of
the British Army and the New Zealand
government was not briefed on the
destination of those who volunteered for
the ‘secret ’ mission.
The evacuation from Archangel and
Murmansk took place in September
and October, 1919. Accompanying the
troops were about 6000 Russian civilians,
including war brides. From start to end
of the northern Russia operation, there
were 983 British casualties, including 327
This forgotten war cost the British
government £49.6 million. The Soviets
c laimed foreign inter vention, including
operations elsewhere in Russia, cost them
The inter vention was a failure. By
October 1920, the Russian civil war was at
an end and the Communists had control
of most of the Old Russian Empire. The
Allies had failed in their attempt to stop
the October 1917 Revolution becoming
the defining event of the 20th century.
From the start, the west’s reaction to communism has been one of fear. Based on an academic
journal article by University of Otago historian Assoc Prof Alex Trapeznik, BRUCE
MUNRO of the Otago Daily Times recounts the role New Zealand soldiers played in the
west ’s forgotten Russian war of intervention after the October 1917 Revolution.
PICTURE: Otago Daily Times
Assoc Prof Alexander Trapeznik, department of history and art history, University of Otago
NZ’s Russian intervention
Frank Arthur Worsley
Charles Roderick Carr
Santa Rosa (California)
Andrew Lopas’ plans to bring his
marijuana business out of the black
market with a legal, profitable and
organic pot farm went up in smoke in the
wildfires that have scorched Santa Rosa,
After four decades of growing pot
illegally, the 54-year-old saw an
opportunity last year to start a legitimate
business ser ving the medical marijuana
As the wildfires, which have now killed
at least 40 people, first erupted, Lopas’
cannabis farm in Santa Rosa went up
in flames, leaving behind the stumps
of two chimneys, heaps of ash, charred
marijuana plants and a despairing
After moving into the farm last
November, he had been only days away
from his first harvest.
Lost in the conflagration at Mystic
Spring Farms were 1100kg of cannabis
worth an estimated $2 million, $10,000
in cash to pay the mortgage and workers,
a farmhouse that dated back to the 18th
century, trailers and farm vehicles, and
900 marijuana plants.
“That was all our eggs in one basket,”
Lopas said. “ We were devastated.”
California’s newly legalised marijuana
industry was hit hard by the deadliest
blaze in State history.
Fires consuming communities north of
San Francisco have destroyed almost 30
pot farms in Sonoma, Mendocino and
Napa counties and significantly damaged
a similar number, according to the
California Growers Association. Those
are a fraction of the estimated 15,000 pot
farms in the region.
California is the source of most of
the nation’s illegal marijuana farming.
Humboldt and Mendocino counties,
in the cannabis-growing region known
as the ‘Emerald Triangle’, have led the
California voters approved medical
marijuana in 1996, despite a federal ban,
and last year approved recreational use
of the drug by adults. Since then, the
State has been developing rules to allow
Lopas said he and his girlfriend,
Monika Meyers, were focusing on the
medical marijuana market, taking a “wait
and see” approach to the developing
Medical marijuana businesses in
California are expected to operate as
non-profit cooperatives, but beginning
in January 2018 they can apply to run as
for-profit companies, according to the
California Franchise Tax Board.
Lopas fears the fires have irrevocably
destroyed many farmers in Sonoma
County. He said marijuana’s illegal
status on a Federal level means farmers
can not qualify for Federal aid in
disasters and most do not have crop
insurance that would cover the fire
losses as there are not adequate policies
Lopas’ first warning of the rapidly
approaching fire was flickering lights in
his greenhouse as he worked last Sunday
evening. He smelled smoke, and when
the wind picked up, he and Meyers fled,
grabbing little more than some clothes
and their two dogs.
Lopas, who has grown marijuana since
he was a teenager and sold it illegally
much of his life, said he wanted to make
his farm a shining example of regulatory
compliance and environmentalism,
spurning the pesticides that many illegal
farms use to boost yield.
“ We were trying to bring the industry
out of the dark,” he said.
Lopas has had trouble sleeping since
the loss and worries how he will repay his
investors. But he is not giving up.
“ We want to rebuild,” he said. “ This
property is too special to me.”
Pot farmer’s dreams go up in smoke
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