NEW-ZEALAND-L ArchivesArchiver > NEW-ZEALAND > 2008-11 > 1225900909
From: "Olwyn Whitehouse" <>
Subject: [nz] New Zealanders and the South African Police Nov. 1900. and L GO'Callaghan (Christchurch) and Timaru
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2008 10:01:49 -0600
NEW ZEALANDERS AND THE SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE.
Who wrote this article?
Otago Witness, 21 November 1900, Page 30
A member of the first contingent, in a letter published in, Wellington,
makes a spirited reply to the remarks made in the colony about New
Zealanders having joined the South African police. "To us here," he writes.
"all this righteous indignation bears a ludicrous appearance, for our term
of service is only three months, practically 'transference ' for ' special '
duty, as we are still on our regimental strength, and our work has been
every whit as useful to the Empire - possibly- more so - as on column.
" The Premier states that' the New Zealanders were sent to South Africa to
fight, and not for police duty.' Evidently he cannot dissociate the civil
police from that military organisation necessary for the protection and safe
holding of a. conquered hostile town. In civilised warfare, directly
possession is taken of such a place, the victors at once assume
responsibility of life and property, and a certain and sufficient number of
troops must perforce be detailed for that duty. Thus, in the case of
Pretoria, it became necessary to carry this plan out on a large scale, and
hence the formation of the Provisional Military Mounted Police. Lord
Roberts, in an army order on the subject, specially desired that colonials
on service in South Africa should join the force.
"At the time the order was published it was thoroughly- believed by all
concerned that the services of the colonials in the field were to be
dispensed with, and that in a brief period of time the various contingents
would been route home. This doubtless caused a large number to join, many,
thinking there would be a good chance during, the three months' service of
seeing more of the country, for it was assumed; the work would consist
mainly of disarming rebels, searching farms and places for arms, and also
anticipation of the guerilla warfare that loomed in perspective' after the
cessation of general operations.
" On the eve of our departure to Pretoria a 'camp fire " was held as a
'send.-off,' and Major Robin, in a speech, expressed his opinion that the
course we were taking was one of the best possible ; in fact, so very
favouvable were his comments that some 'undecided ones' came in with, us
"When the New Zealand contingents were later on, re-mounted and re-equipped
many of those in the police wished to go on with them, but naturally were
not allowed to do this by the Imperial authorities.
" The police duties consist .of patrolling not only the city and suburbs,
and generally maintaining order, but mounted patrols frequently go out
beyond the fixed outpost line to a distance of 10 miles or so. In fact, the
work is purely that of a garrison in a hostile district, in war -time.
Individually, men stood in far, greater danger here than did their comrades
on column, and it is only during the last month that things have been fairly
safe. The Boers, having possession of British uniforms, used them as a means
of getting in and out of the place, and but for the alertness and good work
displayed by the police, Pretoria would, there is small doubt, have once
more been in Boer hands.
" With reference to the Premier's cable that ' we were sent out to fight,
and not for police work,' I beg to state that we came out to serve
the-Empire ' in whatsoever capacity the Empire desired. One thing was rammed
down our throats' more than anything else previous, to our departure from
New Zealand's shores - namely 'that directly we landed in South Africa we
should be under the entire control of the Imperial authorities.' Mr Seddon
calmly ignores this, for his cable to the authorities in South Africa is
nothing more or less than dictation to the Field-marshal as to the
disposition, of the troops under his command, a proceeding which- even the
most ill-informed on things military must deplore. The Imperial Government
would not dream of interference in any shape or form with Lord Roberts's
handling of the troops in South Africa under his command. Doubtless he had
sound reasons for desiring the services of. Colonials, on the Provisional
Military Police. In any case, it is not within the sphere of our Government
or its representative to attempt interference, in the use to which a general
chooses to put troops under his command, in the field. Neither is that
general to be expected to communicate be forehand with any colony, to ask
permission to use its representatives on this or that duty (as I am informed
wall actually suggested in, the House over, the police- matter), for the
simple reason that it is understood that the generals have supreme control
over troops, and those troops are to be used for the general good in the
service of our grand old Empire in such manner as is deemed needful.
" My own opinion is that some official in a responsible position with the
contingents in South Africa has sent misleading reports to the Premier on
this police business ; but that may come to light at a later date. Our
Premier has all along behaved so patriotically and splendidly that I am sure
his message must have been caused by weighty reasons, and I sincerely hope
we shall eventually find that he acted as he did from such cases as I have
previously referred to.
"One can thoroughly appreciate the feeling of the people of New Zealand,
labouring as they were under the delusion that so large-a number of their
'boys' were practically lost to the colony for years to come. But our three
months' period of service has now expired, and I can confidently say that
only about 20 at the most will remain in the police, and, probably not that
number and you may take my word for one thing, the majority of New
Zealanders here are more than anxious to see the old lad and their friends
Kiwi in TX
P.S. Comcast often blocks emails. Note I have a gmail address also.
Is there anyone researching L G O'Callaghan (Christchurch)?
What was his wife's maiden name??? Thanks.
husband of Julia Marie O'Callaghan
O'CALLAGHAN, Leslie George was the son of Arthur Pyne and Florence
O'Callaghan, of 16 Craigie St., Timaru; husband of Julia Marie O'Callaghan,
of Hadlow, Timaru. Native of The Springs, Lincoln, Canterbury. Lieutenant
O'Callaghan was a teacher when he enlisted with the Eighth Contingent South
Island Regiment - Squadron F and sailed from Lyttelton on the Cornwall 8
February 1902. On returning he became an auctioneer in Waimate and entered
in partnership with E.A. LeCren. Leslie's father was a supervising valuer in
Christchurch. Leslie terminated his business when his wife was lucky enough
in 1912 to draw a ballot for a run at the top of Morris Rd, Sherwood Downs,
Fairlie. She named the run "Leslie Downs" after her husband. They were
neighbours of the Heckler's. Captain O'Callaghan 24291 enlisted in WW1, 1st
Bn., Canterbury Regiment, NZEF, and died in action on Friday, 12th October
1917, Ypres, Belgium. Age 38. Buried at TYNE COT MEMORIAL, Zonnebeke,
West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Mr. L. O'Callaghan name appears on the Sherwood
Downs, St Mary's Church, Timaru, Waimataitai School and Timaru's South
African War memorials in South Canterbury.