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 The Old Waterfront, p 48 The Streets of my city, Wellington New Zealand,
by F. L. Irvine-Smith. (1948).

Part Two : Chapter Fourteen
Soldier Streets

Contents: a letter | Part One chapters: 1 | 2 | Part Two chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15
Part Three chapters: Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Appendix

So they gave their bodies to the Commonwealth and received, each for his own memory, praise that will never die; and with it, the noblest sepulchre, not that in which the mortal bones are laid out, but a home in the minds of men.
Pericles. (Inscription on the Wellington Centennial Memorial on Petone Beach, unveiled January, 1940.)

IT WAS INEVITABLE, in every part of the Empire, that wars should have left their traces in various place names, and heroes and battles alike are enshrined in some of the Wellington street names, new and old.

To a present generation only a few of our "soldier streets" can evoke personal, possibly even poignant memories, but there are not a few older Wellington street names that enshrine the memory of very far-off times and battles long ago. These form what might be called the "Peninsular Theme," recalling engagements in which some of our first pioneers themselves participated. Salamanca Road, for instance, San Sebastian Road, Talavera Terrace, were so named by W. T. L. Travers, himself an ex-legionnaire of the Carlist War. Colonel Wakefield, the leader of the settlement, was another, Dr. John Dorset, another. Is not the very name of the city a reminder for all time of the supreme figure of the Peninsular War? Con over his titles: Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Douro and Duke of Wellington in the United Kingdom; Count de Vimiera in Portugal; Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo in Spain; Marquis of Torres Vedras in Portugal; Prince of Waterloo in the Netherlands. Recall his engagements and associations, as recorded in our streets: Douro Avenue, Corunna Avenue, Picton Avenue, Somerset Avenue, Eusaco Road, Rodrigo Road, Wellington Road, Walmer Street, Mornington Road. The suburb of Mornington was named after the Duke's father, the Earl of Mornington. One of our first city streets to be named in 1840 was Hill Street (N.I), so called after General Sir Rowland Hill, second in command at the Battle of Waterloo, which is remembered today in the name of Waterloo Quay. Ghuznee Street too, comes into our earliest names, and was so named in memory of the storming and taking of an Afghan stronghold, Fort Ghuznee, by the British in 1839 - an episode very fresh in the minds of the planners of the Wellington settlement. Baden Road carries us still further along the years to the Boer War.

The Maori War, which began in 1860, had little effect on city names in any parts, but Whitmore Street keeps alive the memory of Sir George Whitmore, who came to New Zealand in 1861 as military secretary to Sir Duncan Cameron, commander of the forces in the Maori War. Sir George subsequently sold his commission and became a land-owner in Hawkes Bay, where at one time he owned the Clive Grange Estate. He is best remembered for his work as Head of the Armed Constabulary which he organised effectively in the campaign against Te Kooti.

To many Wellingtonians, Whitmore Street will always recall the first Public Art Gallery of the city, whose foundation stone was laid by the Earl of Glasgow in 1892, now superseded by the new Dominion Art Gallery on Mount Cook. It was a small, modest-looking brick structure, somewhat resembling a spacious bakehouse, but for forty years and more was nevertheless the Mecca of all budding local artists of the day, a spot which they approached at times with trembling footsteps in the hopes of beholding their efforts "on the line." Slowly, too, good canvases found their way into the permanent collection. A windfall for the city was the presentation by Mrs. W. B. Rhodes in 1900 of the landscape "Southward from Surrey Hills," by W. B. Leader, R.A. But alas! one fine day (or night) the canvas disappeared from its frame, and only a billet doux remained for the Mayor (Mr. T. W. Hislop) naming the "price" of its restoration. It was restored.

Some of the originals in the Wellington Art Gallery astonished even G. B. Shaw when he saw them on his visit in 1934. He expressed his surprise at seeing some of the canvases he had formerly seen eulogistically criticised at the Royal Academy Shows in London. Any gallery, said he, would be proud to possess such gems as "Goblin Market" (Frank Craig), "The Rosemakers" (Melton Fisher), "Blue and Gold" (Mouat hudan), or "Highland Pastures" (Henry Moore) and more, though possibly the canvases most treasured by New Zealanders are the van der Veldens, the work of the greatest painter who ever lived in New Zealand, and the exquisite water-colour landscapes of the late John Gully. Before his arrival in New Zealand in 1890, Petrus van der Velden had been the contemporary and associate of the Marris brothers, Anton Mauve, and Josef Israels, and bade fair to acquire an equal European reputation. Perhaps there is no more poignant canvas in any of our picture galleries than van der Velden's "Dutch Funeral," which he brought with him when coming to New Zealand. It hangs in the Macdougall Art Gallery in Christchurch.

The latest addition in 1946 to the permanent Wellington collection is a portrait in oils of Katherine Mansfield, by an American-born artist, Anne Estelle Rice.

Like most young cities, our statuary is yet for to seek, but a few good things are slowly filtering in. First must come the inspiring Winged Pegasus on the War Memorial, the work of Richard Oliver Grose, C.M.G. of Auckland. It is worth a tram ride too, just to go to Cambridge Terrace to stand and stare at the beautiful bronze panels by Alfred Drury, set in the pedestal of the Queen Victoria Statue. Another example of Drury's work was, until recently, to be seen in the allegorical group, "The Girdled Earth," which adorned and emphasized the triple-arched entrance to the G.P.O. where, above the central arch, two figures seated in repose supported a globe beribboned with the signs of the zodiac. A lovely thing! But alas! an earthquake (August, 1942) so endangered its position that it had to be removed and is now stored in the City Council depot in Cable Street, awaiting a future home.

To a younger generation, however, it is the street names commemorating the Great War (1914~1918) that hold the deepest significance. These are to be found mostly in Karori (W.3) where older duplicates have been replaced by names from this source. Here are Messines Road (formerly Macdonald Street) after the Battle of Messines, June 7th, 1917, when the British gained a signal victory by exploding at dawn nineteen mines, and blowing the top of the hill away; Birdwood Street (formerly Evelyn Street), which takes its name from Field Marshal William Riddell Birdwood, Commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (1914-1918)(1),and Verviers Street, after a town in Belgium, on the line from Liege to Cologne, not far from the German frontier, where the troops gathered at the close of the Great War in order to march to the Rhine into the conquered territory. In piping times of peace the name of Verviers conjures up large woollen mills.

Still in Karori is Lemnos Avenue (formerly Earl Street), a name familiar to all who served in the Gallipoli Campaign of the Great War. The island of Lemnos, with its chief port of Mudros Harbour, within easy reach of the Dardanelles, was borrowed from Greece as a naval base during the war operations. Plers Street (formerly Bell Street) recalls the operations on the Somme, where the enemy line from Combles to Plers was turned back by the British capture of Plers.

Of the great leaders whom those stirring times called into being, Chaytor Street (W.1) commemorates Major-General Sir Edward Chaytor, who commanded the Anzac Mounted Division in the war. He was, to our pride, a New Zealander born, the son of Mr. J. C. Chaytor of Marshlands, Marlborough. On June 17th 1939, he died in London. General Sir Reginald Wingate, Sirdar of the Egyptian army, and Governor-General of the Sudan from 1899 to 1916, is remembered in Wingate Terrace (S.1). He was subsequently High Commissioner for Egypt from 1917 to 1919 and has written widely upon Egyptian questions. Allenby Terrace (C.1) recalls the services of Field Marshal Sir Edmund Allenby (1861-1936) who, in the Great War, commanded the Third Army (1915-1917) was Commander-in-chief in the Palestine Campaign (1917-1919), and High Commissioner for Egypt (1919-1925).

Fryatt Quay, Bruges Avenue and Cornwell Street bring back to mind glowing deeds of heroism in the War, as do Sturdee Street and Hood Street ("ship streets") but of special interest to Wellington is a group of street names, which serve to keep in honoured memory four young Wellingtonians who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War. These are Freyberg Street (E.3), after Paul Milton Freyberg of the Rifle Brigade of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, who died of wounds in France on June 18th, 1917; Robieson Road (E.I), after Norman Robieson of the Mounteds, wounded at Gallipoli in 1915 and died, August, 1916, off Gibraltar, on his way to England. Another of New Zealand's best who fell at Gallipoli will always be remembered in Frandi Street (N.I), while in the name of McColl Street (S.W.1) is kept alive the memory of Captain McColl who was killed July 2nd, 1916, shortly after carrying out a successful raid against the enemy during the trench warfare that went on prior to the Somme attack. He had returned to the trenches in safety at the conclusion of the raid but with unselfish courage went back to help the stretcher bearers in No Man's Land. Colonel Weston, who gives details of McColl's end in his book, "Three Years with the New Zealanders," concludes with words that will be endorsed by all who knew him. "Any of us that knew McColl will carry to the end the memory of a very gallant gentleman."

Names unforgettable! Ever in memory, just as they left us, in the full flush of life and hope for the best that is to be.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

1. Created Sir William Birdwood (Bart.) in 1919 and Baron Birdwood of Anzac and Totnes in 1938.
Part Two : Chapter Fifteen : Roaming Around C1, 2, 3

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