A soldier's unlucky death

Private Herbert Lloyd Dash was extraordinarily unlucky.

His death, just four months before the end of World War I, happened on friendly soil – half a world away from where bullets, bombs and poisonous gas were decimating soldiers on either side of trench fighting.

The Australian-born bugler was based at a military training camp at Trentham when he was thrown from a horse and killed on July 5, 1918.

The animal he was riding was assigned to an officer and Herbert had volunteered to return it to the stables after an exercise.

His mates watched as he mounted the horse and started off down a main road.

But it was only a matter of seconds before a slow trot turned into a fast gallop.

Herbert tried to bring the horse under control but lost a stirrup during the process.

He overbalanced and toppled to the ground – landing directly on his head.

The fall killed the 31-year-old bachelor instantly and a medical examination revealed a fractured skull.

Herbert's relatives across the Tasman were notified along with an aunt at Dominion Rd in Auckland who was listed as his next of kin.

A coronial inquest at Trentham confirmed the cause of death and Herbert's body was freighted north for burial in a soldier's division of Waikumete Cemetery.

His grave was marked with a tombstone erected by his comrades in the D Company 40 reinforcements.

A second government-provided memorial was later added in keeping with others around it.

A total of 505 soldiers died from accident or disease while training with or attached to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on home ground.

Western Leader