Military ties on the record

Early records show RSA history from 1917 to 1933

Last updated 14:00 08/05/2012

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Temuka RSA, one of the country's oldest, faces closure with dwindling membership leaving it struggling to pay the bills. A public meeting has been called on Thursday to resolve the matter. Al Williams looks at a military history in the town.

Temuka has always had strong ties with the military.

Temuka Returned and Services Association support adviser Blue Hogg uncovered written records of the links a couple of years ago, during a cleanout of the clubrooms in King St.

They show details of the years 1917 to 1933.

The Temuka Volunteer Rifles was formed before World War I, and were active until they disbanded at the end of the Great War.

Temuka RSA has on display the belt, cups and records of their annual rifle shooting competition.

The men, having returned from the South African conflict, together with British soldiers and sailors spoke of starting a club.

Les McGillan compiled A Brief History: 75 years on the Returned Services Association. The 19-page report outlined committees up to 1991.

He states the first minute book was missing, making writing the history difficult. He started from 1921.

The files found by Hogg were written by George Harris.

Harris was a long-serving secretary, vice-president and executive member.

The first recorded meeting of the returned soldiers in Temuka was held on May 24, 1917, when a committee was appointed to run a dance.

A further meeting was held on August 23 to run a dance in aid of Christmas gifts for soldiers overseas.

At a meeting in the Drill Hall on May 3, 1918 it was decided to affiliate with the NZRSA and form a branch in Temuka.

After using various rooms behind shops in the main street of Temuka between 1917 and 1957, moves were undertaken to procure better premises.

After much deliberation the section of RM Barnett, in King St, – Temuka's main street – was purchased for the price of the rate of arrears amounting to £100.

Some hard bargaining brought success, with the purchase alongside of the old premises for £1238. This sale, together with debentures of £1500 and a mortgage of £1000, enabled building to commence at a cost of 3352.

Building commenced in April 1958, and the new premises were opened on August 31 by the defence minister Philip Connolly.

The builder was Bill Wallace, with plenty of volunteers to help. In 1960, with membership growing, an extra lounge area was needed but it wasn't until September 1962 that the committee agreed.

The building subcommittee put forward a plan for a further 16 feet to be added at a cost of £450 for materials.

Building work was voluntary and led by builder and member Murdie McCloud. Snow Davis organised working bees. It was completed in 1964.

A women's section was added in 1942.

Temuka War Memorial bears 114 names of those killed in WWI. The town lost a further 43 men in WWII.

HISTORY

The lost files of 1919 to 1933 show a rocky history in the early years of the Temuka branch.

Meeting April 11, 1919. President – Dr Hastings, vice – W Oldfield, sec – H Ford. Dr Hastings was appointed the first delegate to a Dominion Council meeting which was held in Christchurch. Ford resigned after a month.

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Meeting April 12, 1920. President – Dr Hastings, vice – W Oldfield, sec – EG Grimshaw D O'Connor – delegate to Dominion Council Grimshaw resigned after one month. D O'Connor was appointed to secretary which he held for eight years. Membership dropped from 269 to 37 during that period.

Meeting November 30, 1921. Geraldine amalgamated with Temuka RSA. Meeting April 20, 1922. Red poppy of Flanders adopted as the memorial flower. Meeting April 19, 1923. Poppy Day proceeds 111. About 25 per cent deducted for the relief of French children, the rest for the relief of unemployed returned servicemen in the area.

Meeting April 24,1924. First reunion held, 60 attended. Meeting April 28,1925. Membership, 106. Poppy sales 55, spent providing work for the unemployed. Meeting May 7, 1926. Clubrooms closed and all stock and equipment sold by tender.

Meeting May 11, 1927. Membership drops to 88. Poppy sales 33. Geraldine secedes from Temuka to form its own association. Annual sub reduced. Social committee formed to run dances. Mr O'Connor relieved of secretary position.

Meeting May 6, 1929. Membership drops to 37. Poppy sales 30. President informs meeting that executive has been unable to obtain association books and records. Executive instructed to procure a new set of books.

Meeting June 9, 1930. Membership increases from 28 to 65. Poppy sales 38. Meeting May 4, 1931. Membership 84. Poppy sales 47. Finances improve during the year showing a balance of 42.

Meeting April 21, 1932. Membership increases to 151. Poppy sales 33. First Christmas party held. About 300 attend. The association undertook the cutting of firewood as a relief measure – 436 cords cut and sold.

Meeting May 18, 1933. Membership increase to 162. Poppy sales 48. Firewood cutting continues – 1076 cords cut, 418 sold with proceeds of 255.

- The Timaru Herald

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