The Unfinished Drink
The Ted D'Auvergne Story
"The bottle of beer remains on the shelf for the soldier that would never return."
Ted D'Auvergne was invited by the publican, George Provan, Waihao Forks Pub, to have a farewell drink, and when the train whistled George put a bottle on the shelf saying "We'll have this one, Ted, when you come home again." Ted was on final leave from Burnham Training Camp before heading oversea, January 1940. He never came back and lies buried in a Crete cemetery, his name added to the long roll of honour of those who died in the service of their country. Very few of his relatives are still in the Waimate and Timaru districts. Reference: Noel Mewburn's letter
"No one really remembers the exact story now, and it has gone into folk lore." Whatever is the truth the bottle was left on the shelf for Ted and he will not be forgotten.
Another version. The train left at 7.20 in the morning too early for a pub to open. Two mates while having a farewell drink with Ted a few days before decided to leave the beer bottle there with the publican, George Provan, for Ted to drink on his return. The publicans who followed left the bottle unopened and unbroken on the shelf.
Another version written by Ted's cousin. On 23rd Dec 1939 Ted was drinking with Stuart Dickson and Dave Ponsonby and he didn't want another bottle so asked the hotel keeper to keep it until he came back.
In Memory of LA TOUR MOLLET D'AUVERGNE
Private 7110 27th, NZ Machine Gun Battalion
who died on Monday, 2nd June 1941. Age 35.
SUDA BAY WAR CEMETERY, Greece Grave
Reference / Panel Number: 12. D. 12. (Plot 12, Row D)
CHANNEL ISLANDS HERITAGE
Ted was the son of Charles Edward D'Auvergne born in Jersey and Lilian Dale D'Auvergne (Lucretia Adele Mollet) also born in the Channel Islands. Edward remarried and his son took on his father's nickname, Ted, was bought up mainly by his father and stepmother. Ted was born in Rangiora. He was educated at Kapua School and Timaru Boy's High School and was known as an athlete and inventor with humour, ingenuity and understanding of honour and service. his family had a 161 hectare block on Stoney Creek Rd, at the Waihao Forks, the farm ran up the hill behind the Waihao Forks Pub.
McNicholl card-file, at the South Canterbury Museum
::D'AUVERGNE Charles Edward b. 1857 d. 29 Sept 1946, aged 89.
::m. Lillian ...
::Family: Erena b. 5/7/1900 Rata b. 19/12/1901 La Tour b. 21/2/1906
::Farmer at Sefton in the 1903 directory.
::President of the Waimate A&P Association in 1914.
::Mrs. D'Auvergne was an early committee member of the Waimate Plunket Society.
::Tombstone in Waimate Cemetery: Edward Charles D'Auvergne, died September 1946, aged 89. Wife Lillian d. 26 November 1961, aged 93.
LeTour Mollet D'AUVERGNE, known as 'Ted', grew up in the Waihao Forks area southwest of Waimate, South Canterbury in the South Island of New Zealand where his family farmed, the youngest of six. Ted attended Timaru Boys High School and was an excellent swimmer and very skilled with his hands in fixing mechanical machinery. He rescued a lady from a local swimming hole and also damaged the hearing from one ear in a diving accident. Ted was a member of the Canterbury Yoemanry Calvary (CYC) but that would not have prepared him for war. Being in the CYC involved camping together a couple times a year and ride around on horses and fire blank ammunition. "WW2 was no place for horses or cavalry."
Looking to the pub from the road that went up to Ted's place about 300yds up the hill to the left. The railway came across the bridge at the end of the road and veered off to the right and on up for about 2-3 kms to Wahiao Downs. The end of the line passing close to St Michael's Church on the way. Ted liked his 'drop' at the local and often went to the pub on horseback. The view looks toward the Wahiao Gorge and Waimate.
The first day recruitment in New Zealand was on September 16, 1939. When Ted joined up for war service three days later he managed to get by his medical with his impaired hearing by standing and keeping his good ear pointing in the right direction! His army papers give his birth as 1st February 1906 aged 33. Although perhaps considered 'over the hill' for overseas service his mechanical skills, fitness and service in the territorials (CYC) saw Le Tour Mollet D'Auvergne 7110 posted to the 27th Machine Gun Battalion as part of the 2nd NZ Expeditionary Force as a driver where he saw service in North Africa and Crete where he was posted missing in June 1941. Given as killed in action in 1945.
The 27th Machine Gun Battalion and Infantry Battalion (along with the Divisional Cavalry) served overseas longer than any other unit in the 2nd NZEF. Their first commanding officer was Lt.-Col. L.M. Inglis ex-Timaru who had served with distinction as a machine gun officer in WWI. Ingils joined his battalion just two or three days before training began under canvas at Cave in December 1939 where the had field firing exercises. They were one of the first units to go into action in the Greek Campaign in April 1941 and then were posted to Crete as well as serving with distinction in the battles of the Western Desert including El Alamein and the Tunisian Campaign. Later the battalion served with the NZ occupational forces in Japan. Timaru was the centre for machine-gun training for the South Island, anyone from here was almost sure to finish up in that sort of unit. They went to Egypt. The division was preparing to invade Italy, and were there for two-and-a-quarter years in Italy. So went to Italy in 1943, and was there until the end. They left there in January 1946. Honour Roll
The 27 (MG) Battalion have a very proud and distinguished history. The battalion fought in
Veve; Greece, 1941; Galatas; Crete; Sidi Azeiz; Tobruk 1941; Defence of Alamein Line; Ruweisat Ridge; El Mreir; Alam El Halfa; El Alamein; Mersa Matr�h; Minqar Qaim; Tebaga Gap; El Hamma; Enfidaville; Takrouna; Middle East 1941�44; North Africa 1940�1943, The Sangro, Castel Frentano; Orsogna; Cassino I; the Advance to Florence; Cerbaia; San Michelle; Paula Line; Celle; Faenza Pocket; Saint Angelo in Salute; Pisciatello; Bologna; Sillaro Crossing; Gaiana Crossing; Italy 1943�1945; and BCOF Japan 1945�1948.
The 27 (MG) Battalion was originally composed of Territorial Force soldiers who trained to become an effective fighting force. They became strong and self-sufficient through the efforts of the training cadre staff, and later under the instruction of their battle-scarred veterans. For long periods the machine gunners were dispersed throughout the division and occasionally, they supported British, Australian, Indian, Greek and Canadian formations. Several thousand men passed through the battalion during the Second World War.
Crete - 27th Machine Gun Battalion
Pte J. L. Delury; Timaru; born Timaru, 18 May 1908; mill employee; wounded 24 May 1941; p.w. 27 May 1941.
12 Sgt W. T. Ford; born Waimate, 22 Sep 1910; hairdresser.
Private Thomas Robert Horne, 27th Machine Gun Battalion died in Libya 23 November 1941 aged 27yrs. He was born and raised in Timaru and lived at Pleasant Point.
Platoon commander Frank Howe - Before the war, the territorial's were short of members and I volunteered at 17 1/2 (the legal age was 18), and they took me. When war broke out I had just turned 18, so they knew my age, and I couldn't go overseas until I was 21. The following year, I chose to take a course for officer's commission, and on my 19th birthday I became 2nd lieutenant, and for the next two years I was an officer in the local forces. That gave me a taste for army life. I enjoyed the band. I used to say, if I had to walk into the jaws of hell, as long as the band kept playing, I'd go .Once the Japanese came into the war the army established a camp in the Ashburton area, Westerfield, and I served there for 18 months. Once I was 21, I was sent overseas. I went away on a large vessel called the Nieuw Amsterdam. There were 6000 troops on that ship; nine of us in a two-berth cabin. went to Italy in 1943, and was there until the end. We left there in January 1946 and came back to Timaru. I lost men. I used to take it personally because I felt that if I hadn't led them into a certain situation they'd still be alive today. That worried me, and it took me years to get over that. Because I'd decided to go on that ridge, or that valley, that's where we got stomped. I was responsible. But people pointed out to me that those things are going to happen. he said in April 2010 The memories never really die. From time to time I tend to pick up my memoirs, and I re-read some of the actions that we were involved in, and that reminds me of things that have happened. My parents got a telegram. I'd been hit through the arm. It was my brother's birthday, February 6. I was wounded about January 31, but it took about six days for the advice to reach here. When my mother saw the cable person coming around the house, they said, "Good old Frank, he's remembered his brother's birthday". Meanwhile, Frank was cosying up to the nurses in hospital! I think it quite spoiled their day. It's not the only day I'll think of those men. ANZAC Day - It's almost a feeling of justification that at least we are doing something to remember the sacrifice that those boys have made. There's a sadness there that they didn't come back again. Yes, I thought of it just the other week. I have a photograph here of a Timaru reunion, a few years ago. Eight or so of us in the Timaru Herald sitting around a machine gun. I'm sitting at the gun, the others are grouped around me as the organising committee. I have found as I get older, my eyes will fill with tears very easily. So yes, the emotions do get swept up in it. There are some retired servicemen who go to nothing else except the dawn service. They like the fact that the dawn is just coming up, the bugler's playing, shots are fired ... it's just the feeling that it's much more than bands playing and marching. It's a true memorial that one. After the 10am service, there's always an invitation to go into the (RSA) rooms and have refreshments. I'll join family members and we might get together for morning tea. I came from a teetotal family. I didn't drink anything in Italy. My platoon used to say they had the only officer in the army that doesn't drink. Until one day I found I had offended an Italian family. They wanted to thank us for freeing their village by giving us some wine, but they were told Mr Howe wouldn't want any. I could see I'd hurt them. I quite enjoyed the home-made wine, and so I did become a wine drinker, but nothing more.
Mr Howe died 24 Oct. 2010. Timaru Herald 28 & 29 Oct 2010
Lieutenant Kirk (3 Platoon), with thirty-six men and four guns, joined 4 Brigade in the Canea-Galatas area on 30 April. Kirk's platoon, which had been dug in on Cemetery Hill, south of Galatas and overlooking Prison Valley, moved. One of Kirk's men, Private Delury,16 wrote on the 21st that it was �very hot and had a torrid sort of day, done a fair amount of shooting. Darkness very welcome�. [We] are in sight of the prison camp, which is now flying a Red Cross flag. We have our gun but nothing else, no spare parts, no spare barrel, no condenser can, but it is going like a bird.� Next day: 'Still in our gun position, and plenty of action�. Planes had a real day out harassing and ground straffing, it seemed like the end several times. Heat and flies very trying. Rations not so hot but no one seems very hungry�.�
Delury, in Kirk's section on Wheat Hill, says �the planes kept us very low all morning, but [we were] doing some shooting in the afternoon, gun still doing a good job. A mortar has us ranged very nicely, and is too close for comfort. I think it is somewhere in the prison�.� �They suffered very heavy casualties before they were finally forced to retire.� About 5 p.m. Kirk saw Germans on D Company's hill. �The guns opened fire and the hill was rapidly cleared of the enemy.
On morning of 27th Dec 1939 was his last day of home leave before embarking on overseas service. He said farewells to his family in Waihao Forks and posed for a few family snaps and then walked to the Waihao Forks pub, where he was a regular patron, for a couple of final bottles before catching the goods train for Waimate. Before he could start the second bottle of his favourite Ballins XXXX ale, the train whistle blew and arrived outside, Ted said his farewells and left, the beer could wait but Hitler couldn't. The publican George Provan put the second bottle on the shelf for when Ted came home. The bottle still waits now enshrined in a glass case. It is now a local memorial to all those who went away to war and never returned and every year on Anzac Day old soldiers, public and relatives of LeTour Mollet D'Auvergne gather and a poppy is placed in the glass case in remembrance of all those who gave there lives in war. At Waimate he was met by his step-brother and finally caught the troop train from the south for Burnham at Studholme.
The railway tracks in 1939 were about where the tar seal of the the road in foreground is now. To Kurow, (left) and to Waimate, (right 10Kms).
'Garden' photo. Jean and Noel Mewburn, family friends, and school children at the time, with Ted in the middle. One of the photographs taken on his last day in Waihao Forks. This was the photo the 'partisan' kept.
Ted's sister Rata who served in the Fire Brigade driving fire engines in London in WW2 and died there in 1945.
Crete was being overrun by the Germans and our troops were in the process of evacuating the island. Ted and his gunners group were fighting a rear-guard action amongst the vineyards in harassing the oncoming Germans to play for time while evacuation was in progress at a beach on the North Western coast of the island. Eventually the situation deteriorated as the enemy pushed forward and the order came down for Ted and his group to head for the beach with all speed. Ted's mates realised that Ted was not with them when they reached the beach and thought that he may have been a been a bit behind finishing off his ammunition, or that he may have not heard the order to retreat. He never showed and was posted as missing in May 1941. When the war ended he was reclassified as 'killed in action', Crete, and his war medals were passed on to his family in South Canterbury. All Ted's effects were put in suitcase and stored with other personal memorabilia.
In 1947 a very apologetic and poignant letter and photograph arrived from Crete addressed to his father Charles who unbeknown to the author had passed away during the war, it was from a former Cretan partisan, Yakovos Kalionzakis, who fought with Ted in Crete and knew of Ted's fate on that fateful day in May 1941. The letter contained details of how Ted was wounded in the vineyard 1 km from the village of Modi as his platoon retreated from the Meleme airfield, clean shot through the upper chest by a sniper. Yakovos was seventeen when he looked after Ted who he could not move as Ted was a big chap and Yakovos was of small build so hid him where he lay and bought him goats milk and boiled eggs but Ted was too sick to eat and died two days later. Yakovos buried him where he lay in the vineyard in order to avoid detection as the island by this time was swarming with Germans. Yakovos informed authorities as soon as he was able after the war and Ted's body was exhumed from the shallow grave and reburied at Suda Bay War Cemetery.
While being cared for Ted passed on a letter addressed apparently to his father and two photographs to the partisan but it seems the partisan, Yakovos, was captured and interned by the Germans. Hidden under a shelf in the partisan home these items were retrieved after war's end by the partisan who also contacted authorities about the body in the vineyard. Yakovos remembered the address during his years of captivity and wrote to the family in 1947 and included only one of the two photographs that of which he took to be Ted's wife but in actual fact was that of his sister Rata. The second photograph was that of Ted and family friends taken the same day as the bottle was placed on the shelf in the Waihao Forks pub. Yakovos kept this photograph as a memento of Ted and the obvious friendship that developed between them in that short time they spent together in May 1941. He had asked the family for permission to keep it.
Every year on Anzac Day locals gather at the pub, probably after services at other local war memorials, and place a poppy in the glass case with Ted's bottle of Ballins 4 Star green label ale (XXXX) where it still waits. The original label has fallen off but another was obtained from Ballins Industries Ltd and the cap has turned rusty. Inside the case are photographs: Ted with his echelon before departure and his headstone in Crete.
"Ted's bottle of beer was formally constituted a proper RSA Memorial early 1980"
Early in 1999 NZ TV featured Ted's story in 'Epitaph' a series that dealt with the stories behind interesting graves and monuments in New Zealand. Some of the information above was gleaned from that programme which came under the title of 'A Soldiers Tale'. Images from Don Weston and video frames from the 'Epitaph' 1999 documentary. Information courtesy of Don. V. Weston who is interested in Ted's Channel Island roots, the Waimate Museum and fellow genealogy buffs on the New Zealand RootsWeb mailing list. Posted 25 February 2000
Evening Post, 12 July 1941, Page 11
Wounded and remaining on missing list.
D'AUVERGNE, Latour Mollet, Gnr. E. S. D'Auvergne, Waiho Forks (relationship not stated).
The Waimate Museum has a copy of the TV 'Epitaph' story and the September 1999 Holmes show (talkback) and additional material.
- SUGGESTED READING:
-Timaru Herald 12 March 2013
-Listener November 20 1999 "Resolution".
-The Timaru Herald 21 April 1999
-The Otago Daily Jan. 12 1980.
-The story was discussed on Radio Pacific in Dec-Jan 2000. A lady phoned in to say she was the (girl?) friend of that fellow all those years ago. The story was also the Radio on a Sunday night Feb 2000 aired a programme called Sounds Historical.
- Gillespie, Oliver A. South Canterbury A Record of Settlement; The South Canterbury Centennial History Committee 1958. Timaru Herald 1971. page 416 photograph. South Canterbury members of the 27th Machine Gun Battalion photographed after their arrival in Egypt, 1940. Ted was a truck driver for the 27th Machine Gun Battalion, 8th Platoon. He was also a pipe smoker.
- Jim Sullivan from Dunedin has published a booklet available through the RSA, the Waihao Forks pub and can be checked out at Christchurch Public Libraries. Ted's bottle: The Story of New Zealand's most Unusual War Memorial. Author : Sullivan, Jim, 1946- Publisher: Boatshed Productions, Dunedin, March 2000. 20 pp with illustrations. "The story of Ted d'Auvergne- his family, his life at Waihao Forks, his death in Crete" ISBN : 0473066750
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission searchable
- The Battle for Crete The attack came on May 20, 1941, when German transport planes and gliders began dropping soldiers, this was called Operation Merkur. In two days approximately 11,500 Germans had been ferried by air to Crete. The fiercest fighting took place between May 24 and June 1. On the last day of May and June 1 the British evacuated 15,000 troops to Egypt. The British Navy was forced to withdraw from the Aegean Sea and much of the eastern Mediterranean. Their losses were placed at 13,000 (The Allies lost 4,000 killed and 2,500 wounded and a further 11,800 captured. They also lost 9 warships and 46 aircraft to Luftwaffe attacks ) The Battle for Crete. The Germans lost 5,000 killed and 2.500 wounded as well as 170 Junkers 52 Transport aircraft and about 100 gliders. They did manage to take the island and secure their flank for Operation Barbarossa.
- Waimate War memorials
- Timeframes Search under Suda. Images include World War II troops arriving at Suda Bay, Crete, Greece. Taken 27th of April 1941.
- Suda Bay, on the northern coast of Crete, provides the only natural large anchorage in the island and one of the best harbours of the Eastern Mediterranean. The well kept Suda Bay War Cemetery is in a beautiful setting, right by the sea at the north-western corner of the bay in an olive grove. The gates have 1939 etched on one pillar, and 1945 on the other, and there is a large white cross that dominates the centre of the cemetery. There is a visitors book inside a beautiful marble pavilion just inside the entrance gate. The 462 New Zealand graves, are grouped together in the centre of the cemetery, all of which are adorned with the silver fern and the soldiers names and their ages e.g. 22, 23, 24 and even 41. Time and time again there is a headstone with the inscription "A New Zealand soldier ?Known Unto God", which indicates that the soldier's name is not recorded. Suda was the English spelling. Today on maps look for Soudha Bay.
The German Cemetery at Maleme Bay, 1k from the town of the same name is also surrounded by olive groves. There are more than 4400 German soldiers buried there, mostly two to a grave, but there are also plots with as many as 10 unnamed soldiers in them. The pavilion here contains photos from the Battle of Crete.
- Medal for Service in Greece
- A Near-Run Affair New Zealanders in the battle for Crete, 1941 by Matthew Wright.
The 1st Echelon was made of three Brigades; the 18th Brigade were Aucklanders, the 19th Wellingtonians and the 20th South Islanders. 6,600 men and all volunteers. Their ID numbers had four figures. Ted's was 7110. They were known as the '39ers because they were the only ones to join up in 1939 also known as 'four-figure men'. All New Zealanders who enlisted in England got numbers under 1000 then the Aucklanders went from 1000 and the South Islanders got the larger numbers. There were some very fine men in the 1st Echelon as well as wife beaters, debt dodgers, and those one jump ahead of the police. (The first seventeen brigades and the first three field ambulances had served in the 1st NZ Expeditionary Force WW1)
TEN DAYS LEAVE
Bluegums, boulders and bulldozers at Burnham. Life at Burnham was drill, rifle, drill, march and so on. The soldiers paraded in Cranmer Square, Christchurch with bands, speeches and a salute with their rifles then took their final ten days leave just before Christmas 1939. Many went home to their rural districts and given a send off at the local halls which usually included a dance and a small gift like a fountain pen with their name engraved on it. Then it was back to Burnham Camp for three days prior to going overseas.
"Ted's farewell was at the Arno Hall on 23 December. 1939. It was a "ladies a plate", and gentlemen 2/6 type of evening with H. Barry on the piano and Jock Barry on the drums. Herbie Pelvin played the violin. His brother Walter Pelvin, was the soldier killed in the incident at the Japanese prisoner of war camp at Featherston in 1943. Jim Sullivan was at Ikawai school with the Pelvins." Timaru Herald 21 April 99 article written by Jim Sullivan.
On January 4, 1940 they marched to the train station at Burnham and bordered the train for Lyttelton. They boarded the Dunera and the Sobieski and sailed that evening and in the morning sailed through the Cook Strait and met ships from Wellington e.g. Orion, Empress of Canada, Empress of Japan, Orcades, Strathaird, Rangitata (cargo ship), HMS Ramillies, HMAS Sydney, HMS Eagle (aircraft carrier) and others. They passed through Bass Strait and the ships refueled and took on provisions etc. at Fremantle, Western Australia. Then on to Colombo, Celyon (Sri Lanka today) with a convoy of about twenty vessels then to Aden, Yemen, up the Red Sea and on to Port Tewfik, Egypt, a sub-port of Suez at the southern end of the Suez Canal. Then disembarked and took the train approx. 150 ks to Cairo then to Maadi. The 1st Echelon of the New Zealand Division arrived in Egypt February 13, 1940. Ted was on the Polish liner SS Sobieski, her name painted out but tourist postcards were found in the lounge.
My Uncle (G.V.B. 9079) at the outbreak of the 2nd World War, and at the age of 21 years, volunteered for army service and sail away with the 1st Echelon to the Middle East. His unit was with the Army Service Corps. Experienced the Greek, Crete and the Western Desert Campaigns. New Zealanders suffered heavy casualties in Crete and to escape being captured he had a harrowing climb over the mountains to Sparkia where he fortuitously volunteered to be a stretcher bearer to carry a wounded soldier on board the last ship to leave for Egypt. Had he not done so, he would have been left behind and become a Prisoner Of War for the duration. Maybe, in hindsight, that would have been to his advantage as he wouldnt have been wounded in a later campaign!
During the Crete Campaign when they first arrived in Crete from Greece and for the benefit of King George of the Hellenes the New Zealanders put on a display to show off their might during which they exhausted much of their ammunition which left them short for when the Germans landed! Also after the Germans had gained a foothold the Germans had all the water supplies covered which left the New Zealanders desperate. Being without water for many days was unforgettable he said, or words to that effect. Crete is hot, arid a mountainous place.
"The 'H.M.S. Griffin' shuddered all night going at top speed and in the morning we were in Crete, at Suda Bay. We had left Monemvasia, Greece at one in the morning and got to Crete seven hours later. A rope cargo-net was put over the side of the ship 'The Thurland Castle' and we climbed the net to board her. We left Suda Bay almost as soon as we had loaded the men who were being evacuated from Crete, and under escort of the Royal Navy we sailed for Port Said, Egypt loaded with 2,000 on board ship." 1.5.41 N.T.B. (9413) 39er.
Suda Bay, Crete
The Suda Bay Cemetery in the north western corner of the bay is situated in an olive grove well signposted from the main road has a wonderful tranquil setting. Ted D'Auvergne (1906-1941) was interned there after the war. cemetery
The Battle of Crete forged a bond between New Zealanders and the people of Greece. The 60th anniversary of the Battle of Crete was held with commemorations on the Mediterranean island in May 2001. "The Battle of Crete was a searing experience for New Zealand. Its conduct and outcome have been vigorously debated by historians of the Second World War. New Zealand casualties in the battle were considerable 671 killed, 967 wounded and 2180 taken prisoner."