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Peel Forest - the Dennistoun - Russell connection. 

An Alpinist and RAF Observer

Lieutenant James Robert DENNISTOUN

Regiment/Service: Royal Flying Corps 23rd Sqdn.
Secondary Regiment: North Irish Horse Age: 33
Birth: 07 MAR 1883 Peel Forest, Canterbury, New Zealand
Date of Death: 09 AUG 1916, Austria
Burial: Niederzwehren Cemetery at Kassel in Hessen
Additional information: Son of George James and Emily (Russell) Dennistoun, of Peel Forest, Timaru, New Zealand. He was a brother to Barbara and George.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead. Church windows.

At the outbreak of war he worked his way to England as a deck hand on a steamer and obtained a commission in the the North Irish Horse. He went to the front in November 1915 and for some months was intelligence officer to a division. Then he joined the Royal Flying Corps. Photo of Jim in uniform. On a bombing sortie over Germany, Dennistoun was observer and bomb thrower in a biplane being flown by his cousin, Herbert Russell, when their plane was shot and went down in flames behind enemy lines. Russell was able to flatten the plane out enough to avoid a nose dive. Both were thrown out on landing. Jim died as a prisoner of war at Ohrdruf, Central Germany, on 9 August, from the effects of wounds. A doctor dressed their wounds and they were taken to hospital. Dennistoun was seriously wounded and had two operations. He was told that if his third was successful, he would recover. One of the nurses, Lili Eidam, spoke English and, sympathetic and kind-hearted, took notes while Dennistoun dictated and wrote to his mother. One of the nurses, Lili Eidam, spoke English and, sympathetic and kind-hearted, took notes while Dennistoun dictated and wrote to his mother. On August 9, 1916, he had the third operation at a hospital at Ohrdruf. Afterwards he became suddenly weak and died. Russell survived.

Jim was born at Peel Forrest and educated in Wanganui and at Malvern College. He was a member of Captain R.F. Scott's Antarctic expedition in 1911-12. He had been invited by Lieutenant Harry Pennell of the Royal Navy, a visitor to Peel Forest, who happened to mention he wanted someone to take charge of the mules. Pennell could offer no pay, but the adventure was enough for Dennistoun. He later went into sheep farming near Lumsden but sold the property in April, 1914. He was also an enthusiastic mountaineer and ascended many peaks of the Southern Alps, including Mt Cook, and several of which have never before been ascended. He was first to climb Mt D'Archiac (2875m). An unnamed peak (2315m) opposite Mt D'Archiac was named in tribute to him. There is also a pass and a glacier. Jim, walked the Milford Track before climbing Mitre Peak in March 1911. He also climbed, alone, Mitre Peak in Milford Sound which before that time had been considered inaccessible. He was a member of the Alpine Club.

His brother, Jim was the elder son of Lieutenant Commander George James DENNISTOUN, D.S.O., R.N., was on active service. [Auckland Weekly News 26.10.1916] p.17 of Peel Forest, Canterbury.

1901 England Census: 	Age 	Birthplace; 			Census place; 		Occupation.
James Dennistouwn 	18 	New Zealand British Subject 	Worcestershire Malvern 	Student

Evening Post,  31 January 1914, Page 6 LONG HIGH-LEVEL JOURNEY
OAMARU, This Day.
Messrs. J. D. Dennistoun ,and Sydney King (members of the English Alpine Club), and Lieut. G. Dennistoun, have returned after an interesting journey over the icefields on the eastern slopes of the Southern Alps. The party made its way from the head waters of the Rangitata across several glaciers down to Malte Brunn hut, thence to the Hermitage, having crossed St. Winifred, Godley, Classen, and Tasman Glaciers. They claim that theirs was the longest high-level journey yet made in New Zealand. During the earlier portion of the trip, while traversing from the Winifred to the Godley Glaciers, a new pass about 7000 feet was discovered. The party named it Terra Nova.

First Ascent of Mitre Peak. James was in the Antarctica when this was published in the newspaper, Otago Witness 7 Feb. 1912.

The Peaks and Passes of J.R.D. From the Notebooks and Letters of James Robert Dennistoun: by Guy Mannering (Edit.). The author, Geraldine 1999. 264p, photos and sketch maps. Pictorial end papers and panorama and postcard in front end pocket. Dust wrapper. Arranged and illustrated by Guy Mannering with assistance of Joanna Martin, a niece of J.R.D. Climbing in the Southern Alps. Geraldine, NZ., 1999. 264pp. Sepia photographs. Dustjacket by Ben Woollcombe. With illustrations and maps, the writings of Jim Dennistoun, recounting the adventures he had, especially in the mountains of Southern New Zealand.  Guy Mannering whose father, also named Guy, was a friend and climbing companion of Dennistoun, compiled the book using letters, diaries, photographs and notebook entries held by Dennistoun families through three generations.

Timaru Herald 19 March 2012

George Dennistoun, Sr. (1847 - 1921)

He served as a midshipman in the Royal Navy before settling in New Zealand. He purchased Haldon Station in 1868 with two partners.  Ten years later he returned to England and married Emily Russell. He and other partners purchased Peel Forest Station. When the partners sold their interest he was left with a large mortgage and he sold the lower country. When the Government auctioned the leases he was outbid by William Postlethwaite. The Estate became approximately its present size in 1914. George and Emily travelled to the United Kingdom on a 'short visit' but stayed on when World War One broke out and he died there in 1921. George took an active role in the community and was chairman of the Scotsburn Domain Board and the Mt Peel Road Board, acting as chairman. He was a member of the Geraldine County Council for twenty years. He helped raising of money and arrange for the building and for the Peel Forest Church and raise money for the the building. Emily and George had three children. Two born in New Zealand and one in England.

Hawke's Bay Herald, 20 January 1880, Page 2 Marriage
Dennistoun — Russell — On the 27th November, at St. Bartholomew's, Hyde, Winchester, by the Rev. Stephen Bridge, uncle of the bride, assisted by the Rev. Humbart, vicar, George James Dennistoun, Esq., Peel Forest, Canterbury, New Zealand, to Emily, youngest daughter of Lieut.- Colonel A. Hamilton Russell, late of 58th Regt, and of Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. (also in The Pall Mall Gazette (London, England), Thursday, December 4, 1879)

George Hamilton Dennistoun (1884-1977)

Manager of Peel Forest Estate, Geraldine. Commanding Officer on HMNZS Tamaki in Dec. 1944. Captain G. H. Dennistoun, DSO, OBE, RN (retd); born 23 Sep 1884, Torquay, Devon, England; entered RN 1899; transport officer, SS Tahiti (Main Body, 1 NZEF) 1914; Senior Naval Officer, Lake Nyasa Gunboat Flotilla (Central Africa), 1915–18; retired 1922; HMNZS Tamaki, 20 January 1941–46. The wooden steamer Onewa of 75 tons was purchased and was renamed Tamaki was used for use in transporting men and stores to the the Devonport base. George was the younger brother of James. George married Beatrice Pyne d/o FH Pyne, one of the founders of Pyne Gould Guinness, now Pyne Gould Corporation and PGGW. George retired from the Royal Navy and came to Mt. Peel, NZ as manager and their children grew up at Peel Forest. George H. Dennistoun died 16 June 1977 Timaru and is buried at Mt. Peel. Dennistoun Road and Dennistoun Bush, Peel Forest is named after the family. Mt Peel was in the Dennistoun family from 1880 to 1987. George received his D.S.O. after a battle with a German gunboat on Lake Nyasa. Daughter is Johanna.

WEEKLY NEWS 1st October 1914 Marriage
19 September 1914 at residence of Mr & Mrs F H Pyne, Bealey Ave, Christchurch, Beatrice Pyne to Lt George Dennistoun, R.M., s/o Mr & Mrs G. Dennistoun of Peel Forest, presently in England.  Lt Dennistoun has been ordered home to join his ship and will be travelling on the Athenic with the Canterbury Expeditionary Force. Miss Jocelyn Pyne, the bride's youngest sister, was bridesmaid.

Evening Post, October 1914, Page 6
SHIPPING News of Wellington Departures
October 7 — Wahine, s.s., 4435 tons, Aldweil, for Lyttelton. Passengers— Saloon: Lieut.-Commander Dennistoun.

Evening Post, 21 September 1914, Page 9
On Saturday, at St. Luke's Church Christchurch, Miss Beatrix Pyne, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F. H. Pyne, was married to Lieutenant-Commander G. Dennistoun, R.N., second son of Mr. and Mrs. Dennistoun, of Peel Forest. The wedding gown was of white brocade, beautifully draped with Brussels lace, and a, wreath of orange-blossoms and a veil of Honiton lace were worn. The bouquet was of white roses, orchids, and lilies of the valley. The bride's sister, Miss Jocelyn Pyne, was bridesmaid, and wore white silk muslin, and a white hat with yellow ribbon. The bridegroom, who was in uniform, was supported by his brother, Mr. J. Dennistoun. The wedding ceremony was performed by Dean Harper, assisted by the Rev. F. N. Taylor, Vicar. Mrs. F. H. Pyne was robed in fine blue serge, black hat adorned with cream ostrich plume. Mrs. M. Pyne wore a smart frock of dark blue serge, and a hat of blue moire adorned with bunch of flowers. After the wedding breakfast the bride and bridegroom left on a short wedding tour, Mrs. Dennistoun wearing grey whipcord and a white hat wreathed with white lilac, and lined with pink.

Timaru Herald, 26 September 1914, Page 3
The guests present included
Mr and Mrs G. Buchanan (Ashburton)
Mr and Mrs Walter Empson (Mount Peel)
Mr and Mrs John Grigg (Longbeach)
Mrs Jack Ormond
Mrs Cyril Williams (Hawke's Bay)
Miss Sinclair Thompson (Geraldine)
Mr. Mrs, and Miss Boyle
Mr and Mrs R. M. Macdonald, and Miss Macdonald
Mr and Mrs H. A. Knight and the Misses Knight (3) (Racecourse Hill)
Dr and Mrs Palmer
Dr and Mrs Hugh Acland
Mr and Mrs H. D. Acland
Mrs Wigram, Miss Wigram
Miss M. Ross
Mr and Mrs Godby
Mrs Gould, and the Misses Gould (2)
Dr and Mrs Palmer
Mr and Mrs Beauchamp Lane
Mrs and Miss Rolleston
Mrs George Rhodes
and several of the bridegroom's brother officers, who, like him appeared in uniform. Mr and Mrs G. Dennistoun parents of the bridegroom, are at present in England.

Evening Post, 30 September 1914, Page 8 PLUCKY RESCUE
A plucky rescue of a seaman who fell overboard from the Karamea was made by Lieutenant-Commander Dennistoun, of the transport Tahiti. The man who was rescued was painting ship, and after leading the stage attempted to reach the deck, but missed his footing and fell into the water. Quartermaster Jones, of the Karamea, also saw the man fall and dived in for him at the same time as Lieutenant-Commander Dennistoun. Together the two got a line round the man in the water, and he was hauled aboard exhausted. The pluck of the two rescuers was warmly applauded by onlookers.

Evening Post, 1 October 1914, Page 9
Another concert of the class always provided at the Sailors' Friend Society Institute was given last evening by Mr. Proctor before an appreciative audience. Mr. Jainea Moore (missioner) presided, and seats on the platform were occupied by Chaplain Taylor and Lieutenant Deassly. ; Those who took part in the vocal, orchestral, and instrumental items (Misses Edna Colley, Sparrow, Dodds, F. Colley, and Messrs. Proctor (2), Tansley, Walker, A. Moore, Statters, Curtis, Parkin, and Jones] were heartily thanked at the close of the evening. During the evening the following resolution relating to the rescue in the j harbour on Thursday (which will be forwarded to Lieutenant Dennistoun and Quartermaster Jones) was carried with cheers : " We, the sailors, firemen, stewards, and friends in the port of Wellington, desire to place on record our ' high admiration of your splendid bravery shown when you so promptly and pluckily sought to save Seaman Donnelly, A.B. when he was in imminent danger of drowning from the s.s. Karamea in our harbour."

Lawrence Dobre Russell

Rank Last Held: Second Lieutenant
Date of Death: 2 September 1916
Age at Death: 18
Cause of Death: Died of wounds
Cemetery: Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-l'Abbe, Somme, France
Youngest son of Herbert H. and Rachel Russell nee Baunbridge, of New Zealand and Torquay. Born in England but emigrated to New Zealand as a child. Brother of Francis Gerald Russell, who died on 28 January 1917 while flying with 21 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps.

Francis Gerald Russell

Rank Last Held: Second Lieutenant
Serial No.: 13/736
Date of Death: 28 January 1917
Age at Death: 28
Cause of Death: Killed in action.
Cemetery Name: A.I.F. Burial Ground, Flers, Somme, France.
Son of Herbert H. Russell and Rachel (nee Dennistoun) Russell, of New Zealand and Torquay.
Brother of Second Lieutenant Lawrence Dobre Russell who also served with the Royal Flying Corps and who died on 2 September 1916 of wounds received on August 26th. Served with the NZEF prior to transferring to the RFA, he had earlier been wounded on 8 March 1916 while flying as an Observer with 7 Squadron, RFC.

Herbert Russell and James Robert Dennistoun were 1st cousins. Herbert's father and James's mother were brother and sister. i.e. Emily Dennistoun (James's mother) was born Emily Russell. James was born at Peel Forest.

Star 8 April 1907, Page 3
Sir William Russell will leave Christchurch to-morrow for Peel Forest, where he will visit his sister, Mrs Denniston. He will stay there for about a fortnight, and will then return to Christchurch on his way back to Hawke's Bay.

Terra Nova - British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13

Terra Nova is Latin for new land. From 1906 - 1909 Terra Nova an ex whaler returned to sealing with Bowring Brothers and in November 1909 she was sold to the Admiralty for Scott's second, ill-fated, Antarctic expedition. She was re-registered as a yacht and flew the White Ensign as Scott was a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron. Apparently she was not in very good condition by 1910 and probably as a result she was registered as a yacht to avoid too close a scrutiny by the Board of Trade who might have pronounced her unseaworthy. Bowring Brothers gave a donation to the expedition of £500." "Figurehead of British Antarctic Expedition Ship "Terra Nova" in which Captain Scott and other members of the Expedition, sailed on the 15th June 1910, from the port of Cardiff. Presented to the Cardiff Corporation by Frederick Charles Bowring , Esq, J.P. of Liverpool. 8th. Dec. 1913. The expedition led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott sailed in the Terra Nova from Port Chalmers for Antarctica on 28 November 1910. Lloyds Register of Yachts (1913) lists the Terra Nova as being owned by the Executors of the late Captain Sir R F Scott RN CVO.

The "Terra Nova"

The Dennistoun Glacier ( 71°11'S, 168°00'E) is a glacier, 80 km (50 mi) long, draining the northern slopes of Mounts Black Prince, Royalist and Adam in the Admiralty Mountains of Victoria Land, Antarctic. It flows northwest between the Lyttelton Range and Dunedin Range, turning east on rounding the latter range to enter the sea south of Cape Scott. The coastal extremity of the glacier was charted in 1911-12 by the Northern Party, led by Victor Lindsay Arbuthnot Campbell, of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-13. The glacier is named after James R. Dennistoun, New Zealand alpinist who was in charge of the mules on board the Terra Nova on her way to Antarctica. James kept a journal on board the Terra Nova. Dates covered December 1911-April 1912. James was a holder of the Arctic Medal & Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. Before 1968 the Polar Medal which was originally instituted in 1857 as the Arctic Medal was awarded to all who participated in any Polar expedition endorsed by the government of any of the Commonwealth Realms.

Corporal William McDONALD, of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion, reported wounded, is 22 yrs (sic)[?] of age. He accompanied both of the late Captain SCOTT's expeditions to the Antarctic, on the last occasion being a member of the boat complement of the Terra Nova. Coming back to NZ he secured a position in the NZ Customs Dept and was stationed at Lyttelton. The day he left NZ for the front he was married to a Scottish lady. Corporal McDonald went away with the third reinforcements as a corporal but sacrificed his stripes in order to get away with the main body when the landing upon the Gallipoli Peninsula was made and he has been in the fighting right up to the present, winning back his stripes on the field. [AWN 26.08.1915]

Evening Post, 2 October 1909, Page 9
Native birds, writes a correspondent of the Lyttelton Times, are plentiful at Peel Forest, and during a recent visit to the bush grey warblers, tomtits, fantails, wrens, makomakos, and kingfishers were frequently seen, while occasionally a tui was also noticed. The bellbirds are singing very sweetly at this season of the year, and in the evening the morepork's cry could be heard. Native pigeons are to be seen at times, but kakas have not come to the forest for several years. The scenic reserves of some 480 acres recently set aside by the Government contain some splendid virgin bush, which, however, is suffering owing to cattle being allowed to run in it. Steps should be taken to fence off all that part of the reserve which is virgin bush, as nowhere else in Canterbury is there a forest containing so many representatives of native trees. Some of the totara trees are very fine, one measuring 27ft in circumference about three feet from the ground. Several of the native trees are in blossom at this season, and there are some magnificent specimens of the lemon tree (pittosporum eugeniodes). Kowhai are in full bloom, and the fuchsia trees are nearly so, while the ivy trees (nothopanax) are covered with their purplish berries. It is not generally known that all scenic reserves are also birds' sanctuaries, and that a heavy penalty is provided for any person taking firearms into them.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

Evening Post, 31 May 1939, Page 14
Mr. and Mrs. J. Mowbray Tripp, Silverton, Geraldine, entertained at a five o'clock party at their home to celebrate the coming of age of their second son David, states the Christchurch "Star-Sun." Many friends motored to Silverton for the occasion. The health of the guest of honour was proposed by Commander George Dennistoun, Mount Peel. Later many of the guests were entertained at a buffet dinner and dance. Among those present were Commander and Mrs. George Dennistoun, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Elworthy, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Elworthy, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Grigg, Mr. and Mrs. K. H. Hargreaves, Mr. and Mrs. C. Burdon, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Acland, Mr. and Mrs. C, J. Kerr, Mr. and Mrs. L. F. Williams; Mesdames Stopford, Sinclair, Thomson, Hamilton Sinclair Thomson, G. Macdonald, Basil Unwin, Norman Hope, Rowland Guinness, Wyn Davidson, C. J. Kerr Polhill; Misses Sylvia Scott, Jane Orford. Rachel Rolleston, Juliet and Rachel Kain, Patsie Harper, Margaret McLean (Dunedin), Mary Norris, P. Orbell, Cotterill, Polhill, E. L. J. Davies, Aker, Hodges, Margaret Macdonald, Cara Pinckney; Commander D. Boyle; Messrs. Alister Macdonald, Andrew Hope, Gilbert Grigg, Jack Polhill, Captain McKergow, Messrs. Charles Miller, L. and G. Chapman, Stephen Scott (Christchurch), J. Stone-Wigg, John Rolleston, George Kain, John Reid, David Barker, Peter Foute, L. Batchelor (Dunedin), and Peter Finch.