The ANZAC Memorial Flagstaff, Petone Railway Station.
On April 25, 1915, a combined Australian and New Zealand force landed on the
Gallipoli Peninsula. The ANZACs, as they became known, were part of a British plan to invade the
Dardanelles. Allied casualties in this heroic but disastrous campaign of World War One
numbered about 265,000, of whom some 46,000 were killed in action, died of
wounds or disease.
Of the 8556 New Zealanders who served at Gallipoli, 2,721 were killed and
4,752 wounded. Of the New Zealand war dead, 1669 have no known grave and 252
were buried at sea. Only 1083 New Zealanders who fought there escaped
unhurt. The Gallipoli campaign lasted eight and half months.
New Zealanders were in fact involved in fighting far more devastating than
Gallipoli, yet no other battle so affected the public : the losses at
Gallipoli became a symbol of New Zealand's war losses.
ANZAC Day, first observed on 25 April 1916, resulted from a popular demand
that a day of remembrance was held on the anniversary of the landing.
Reflecting the general sentiment the Government gazetted a half-holiday.
Subsequent observances have always been held of this day, apart from that in
1917. A full public holiday was established through the ANZAC Day Act of 1920, but
it was the Amendment Act of 1921-2 which gave ANZAC Day the status of a
Sunday, though for most people ANZAC Day was already sacred.
Because of the death of 18,500 New Zealand men, and the wounding of some
50,000 more, few New Zealanders were unaffected by what was termed The
Great War. As a result the first ANZAC Day services were most solemnly
The ceremony of the Dawn Service first began in the late 1930s as war
threatened for a second time, and symbolised the dawn stand to in the
In the Second World War New Zealand lost 11,626 men with 46 missing. 15,749
were wounded and 8,500 made prisoners of war. Losses were less than half those of 1914-1918.
Legislation in 1949 enlarged the original scope of ANZAC Day making it also
a day of commemoration for those who served in the most recent conflict as
well as for the South African War.
By the mid 1960s, as collective memories faded, race meetings, sports
fixtures and other entertainment were permitted in the afternoon. Commercial
trading was allowed more recently. Since 1990 the decline in numbers
attending ANZAC services has been arrested. A notable feature has been the
increasing numbers of young people.
In the first months of World War One, the practice was established, at the
Hornsby Railway Depot, New South Wales, of providing a public send-off for
railway workers joining up for military service with the Australian forces.
For the fifth send-off set down to be held in March 1916 the Hornsby Railway
Patriotic Committee decided that the railway station would be decorated with
flags symbolic of the Empire, the Union Jack, the Commonwealth of Australia
and New Zealand flags. But rather than purchasing a New Zealand flag to
complete the display, an idea was put forward by Guard Tom Stone and
adopted, that there be a exchange of flags between Hornsby and a depot in
New Zealand, with the ceremonial unfurling of both at the same time, the
purpose of which was to signify the comradeship and unity of purpose of
Australians and New Zealand railwaymen at Gallipoli. Mr J. S. Spurway, the
Secretary to the Chief Commissioner for NSW Railways, then wrote to the
General Manager of New Zealand Railways, Mr. E H. Hiley on 25 November
1915, at the request of the Hornsby Committee, with details included of the
proposal prepared by Guard Stone. Spurway suggested a depot in either
Wellington or Auckland. Hiley gave the request his full support.
recommendation of Mr. Geo. Troup, Office Engineer in the Chief Civil
Engineer's Office, the responsibility for the New Zealand part was given to
the Petone Workshops, a task unanimously adopted at a mass meeting held at
Petone on 17 January 1916. The Petone Railway Patriotic Committee under the
supervision of Mr. J. Sherwin, with Mr. R. Moore as Secretary, in
association with Mr. R. H. Simons (Stationmaster, Petone), organised the
details of the event. Plans for a ceremonial, nearly 60 foot, flagstaff were
quickly prepared by the Chief Civil Engineer's Office. It was to go on a
spare piece of land at the south end of Petone Station. (D.E. plan no.
3765). Workshops staff built the pole, with fittings, symbolically using NZ
Kauri (top-piece) and Australian Hardwood while the erection work was
handled by the Foreman of Works, Kaiwarra.
On very little leeway the
flagpole was to have been ready for use on Saturday 4 March. However on
account of the Australian flag not being ready and a clash with the
embarkation of the 10th Reinforcements on that date, it was decided to
postpone the ceremony to 25 April, ANZAC Day. Railway records show while the
pole had been made for the earlier date, the erection work took place later
and was recorded as completed on 8 April. (1)
An enormous crowd was on hand at the Railway Station at 3.30pm for the
Petone part of the proceedings. Hundreds of people journeyed from out of
town. Making up the numbers were around 1,200 Petone school children
holding miniature Union Jacks. Amongst the many dignitaries present at the
Petone ceremony were the Rt. Hon. W. F. Massey (Prime Minister), Rt. Hon.
Sir Joseph Ward (Deputy PM), Hon. Sir Francis Dillon Bell (Leader of the
Legislative Council), Hon. W. H. Herris (Minister of Railways), Mr. T. M.
Wilford MP (Hutt), Mr H. Baldwin (Mayor of Lower Hutt), Mr. J. W. McEwan
(Mayor of Petone, who presided), Mr. J. P. Luke (Mayor of Wellington) and
Mr E. H. Hiley (General Manager of Railways). Mr T. Stone Jnr (son of Guard
Stone) of the NSW Railway Department represented NSW railwaymen. Other
dignitaries in attendance were the Ministers of Public Works, Internal
Affairs, Customs, Agriculture, Education, and Native Affairs and many
borough and city councillors. However the Governor, the Earl of Liverpool,
because of another engagement, was not able to be present. A Guard of Honour
for the Ministerial party was provided by local Cadet and Territorial Corps
who had earlier marched along Jackson Street from the Recreation Ground
accompanied by the 50 strong Twelfth Reinforcement Band (Trentham Camp
Band.) As an aside Hiley were so keen to gain the involvement of the latter
that he personally had laid on a special train as the scheduled service from
Trentham would make their participation difficult. Ranged in front of the
specially built official platform decorated with ferns, pot plants and
recruiting banners were a number of Petone men who had fought at Gallipoli
and were invalided home. The curious starting time was fixed to suit the
Minister of Railways on the request of Hiley. Several photographs of the
event taken by Percy Godber are held in the Alexander Turnbull Library.
The honour of unfurling the presentation Australian red ensign from Hornsby
on the ANZAC Memorial Flagstaff went to the Prime Minister. A New Zealand
flag, a presentation of the Railways Department, was unfurled by Sir Joseph
Ward. Both flags were unfurled from the crossbar of the flagstaff. A large
Union Jack, a presentation of the officers of the Workshops, the Railway
Station, and the Petone Railways Stores had already been unfurled on the
main pole, but was dipped and re-hoisted by the Minister of Railways : the
latter additional flags were made in the Workshops Trimmers Department. A
feature of the proceedings was the singing of the massed school children
under the charge of Mr Foster of the Petone District High School. Speeches
given emphasised the heroic sacrifice at Gallipoli (2)
A similar ceremony was held in Hornsby, NSW, where the New Zealand flag
made by the Petone Workshops Trimmers Department was raised by the daughter
of the NSW Governor, Miss Adeline Strickland on the station flagpole
adjacent to No. 4 platform (the main platform). Other dignitaries present
were : The Governor of NSW, His Excellency Sir Gerald Strickland, Mr. Hoyle
(Minister of Railways), Hon. Jos. Cook (Leader of the Federal Opposition),
Hon. Wm. Thompson MLA, Mr. Frank O'Connor of Hawera (representing the
railwaymen of Petone), Councillor P. A. James (President of the Hornsby
Shire), Mr. Tom Stone (Chairman of the Hornsby Depot organising committee)
and Mr. J. Glynn (Stationmaster, Hornsby). A large crowd was on hand for
the event, including many children from the public school withthe guard of
honour some 250 strong provided by the Chatsworth cadets. As a souvenir of a
occasion a special poem was composed. Because of a delay the Hornsby
commemoration in fact began late. (3)
The Petone event appears to be the first ANZAC Day observance in New Zealand
attended by members of the Government.
In the evening a religious service for those who fell at Gallipoli was held
at the Lyceum (Palace) Theatre, followed by what was termed a patriotic
meeting to raise morale, presided over by the Petone Mayor, Mr. J. W.
A special fundraising carnival was held the day before in aid of the local
wounded soldiers fund at the Petone Recreation Ground.
ANZAC services at the Railway Station, apart from that of 1918, then went
into abeyance. In July 1934 the Borough Council sought to buy the Flagstaff
for re-erection elsewhere in Petone on account of its lack of use. Railways
gave its agreement and suggested a price of L2 in September. The proposal
lapsed in October on the death of Mayor David McKenzie. A change of tack
next year saw the Council seek the Flagpole Reserve of 6 perches for
beautification purposes. Railways agreed to a year by year lease on a
peppercorn rental from 1 September 1935. A report to the Borough Council in
April 1936 led to the planting of the Reserve's pohutukawa trees. The pole
remained a Railways responsibility. Grounds maintenance of the area is
currently covered by the Hutt City Council.
ANZAC observances were again held in 1953 and became an annual event
continuing to 1973. A base to hold wreaths was made in 1962. A series of
small pamphlets were produced by Railways' Publicity and Advertising Branch
between 1959 and 1961 for the annual observance, for the 50th anniversary of
the ANZAC landing (1965) and for the 50th anniversary of the Flagstaff
(1966). In 1961 the General Manager of Railways, Mr. A.T. Gandell wrote to
his counterpart in NSW, the Commissioner for Railways, Mr. N. McCuster,
pointing out that the [Petone] flagpole and continuing ceremony is the
outcome of a suggestion by your railway staff at Hornsby Depot. This was
the last official contact between the two railway departments on the ANZAC
Memorial, though the Australian High Commission continued to be represented
at the annual observance. In 1994 the Petone Community Board proposed
moving the pole to Memorial Park at the other end of Petone : adverse public
reaction led to the plan being abandoned. An ANZAC Day ceremony, was held
the following year using a replica of the original Australian ensign . The
original flag is now housed at the Waiouru Army Museum. A small ceremony was
held on ANZAC Day 2005, just after dawn, to mark the 90th anniversary of the
Gallipoli landing. An observance is planned for 2006. (4)
The ANZAC Memorial Flagstaff appears to be the only World War One memorial
in this form and appears to have just missed the distinction of being the
first memorial erected in New Zealand.
The Petone Railway Workshops were one of several large industries in Petone
declared essential war industries. Amongst the war equipment manufactured
there were military transport and machine guns. This was additional to
railway work. The Workshops also faced problems caused by tradesmen
enlisting. Overtime to the tune of 15 hours a week was being worked to just
to keep up in December 1915. There was a great pride in the war effort : a
march of Petone railway workers wearing working clothes in Wellington to
show off the first military wagons completed and to raise money for the
Patriotic Fund was held in August 1914.
Other essential Petone industries were the Gear Meatworks and the Petone
Thirty seven New Zealand railwaymen lost their lives at Gallipoli, the most
prominent of whom was South African War veteran Major Norman Frederick
Hastings, DSO, 11/61, of 83 Hutt Road, Petone, employed at the Petone
Workshops as a fitter, with the Wellington Mounted Rifles, who died at sea
on or about 12 August from of wounds received at Chunuk Bair 9 August 1915.
He was 35 years old. His death was reported in New Zealand on 26 April 1916.
He is buried in Embarkation Pier Cemetery, Gallipoli. His grave is unmarked.
His name is listed on the Special Memorial at B30 with the names of 50 other
New Zealanders known to, or believed, to be buried there, under the epitaph
Abide with Me.
In 1919, after hostilities had ceased, Railways authorised the erection of
Honours Boards to commemorate 438 railwaymen who had fallen in active
service. Thirteen boards were to be erected : one for each railway district
and one for each workshop. The Petone honours board placed on the outside
wall of the Pattern Shop, enclosed in glass facing the main road, in
February 1920 contained the names of the ten Petone workshop workers killed
in action. The Railways Department official list was published on 31 March
1920 with the names of 444 killed or dying of wounds. A Memorial Tablet
engraved with 446 names was unveiled in the Railways Head Office on 28 April
1922 by the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. W. F. Massey. All told 7,529
railwaymen saw military service in World War One almost exactly half of the
railway workforce. (Appendix )
A Formica plaque, dating from January 1961, denoting the circumstances of 25
April 1916 in Petone can be found facing the Hutt Road and contains the
following wording, This flagstaff was erected to symbolise the unity of
Australian and New Zealand Railwaymen in peace and war. Made of Australian
hardwood and New Zealand Kauri, it was first used on ANZAC Day 1916 when the
Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. W. F. Massey, unfurled an Australian flag
presented to the railwaymen of New Zealand by the railwaymen of New South
Wales. The Formica plaque replaced an earlier wooden inscription, with
similar wording excepting that which referred to the composition of the
pole, added in 1953. Originally both were attached to the pole : sometime
after 1973 when regular ANZAC services ceased at Petone Station, the Formica
sign was removed and placed as if it were a foundation stone towards the
Hutt Road frontage. Between it and the pole a large 2 tonne bolder was
placed where the base to hold wreaths had been. The significance of the
boulder is unknown. In recent years regular use has been made of the pole to
fly the Australian red ensign (1995-6) or more latterly the NZ flag. A
ceremonial unfurling of the New Zealand flag was held on 3 March 2004 to
mark the opening of the new Petone Railway Station undertaken jointly by
Greater Wellington Regional Council Chairperson, Cr. Margaret Shields and
Hutt Mayor John Terris. Colonel Brian Hall represented the Australian High
Commission. In 2005 the NZ flag was flown at half-mast, on three occasions,
at Government request, to mark the deaths of several dignitaries : Rt. Hon.
David Lange, former Prime Minister, and Rod Donald M.P. and to honour the
victims of the London bombing. The previous half-masting was on the death
of the Queen Mother in 2002.
The historic Petone Flagstaff was taken down for restoration on Tuesday 1
June 2004 by Swanson Rigging Services Ltd. in a sub-contract to Tony Bartley
Architects who in turn had a contract with the Greater Wellington Regional
Council and Tranz Rail Ltd. The contract price of $16,000 was made up with
contributions from the Greater Wellington Regional Council ($5500), the Hutt
City Council ($3000), the Rail Heritage Trust ($2000) and Tranz Rail
($5500). The key work involved the stripping and re-painting, and
replacement of rusted and corroded steel fittings with painted stainless
steel fixings. The restoration project took several months with the
Flagstaff back in place on 8 September 2004. An investigation in March by
Spencer Holmes Ltd. had found that the Flagstaff was in bad structural
shape. Technically the Petone Flagstaff is not a flagstaff anymore as the
cross-pole was removed between 1918 and 1923. It is considered the
cross-pole was would have weakened the structural integrity of the main pole
and was hence temporary. The cross-pole was located at the mid-point of the
NZ Kauri top-piece and was also secured by guy-wires to the ground. It was
not added to the restored pole. Exact measurements taken at the time of the
2004 work found the pole to be just over 21 metres above the Hutt Road and
just over 17m above the station platform. The height quoted in 1916 is
considered to be from the Hutt Road. The purpose of the double wire cone on
the pole where the two pieces making the structure are joined is unknown.
(1) The Railway Workshops, then adjacent to the Petone Railway
Station, were shifted to a new site in Lower Hutt in 1929. The total
railway staff at Petone in April 1916 numbered 673. (workshops : 600,
management : 30, railway stores : 28, station staff : 15)
(2) The Australian
red ensign is a version of the Australian national flag and was the
standard flag used for non-official occasions at the time.
established as a railway town, is at the junction of the Northern and North
Shore railway lines, and now is in the outskirts of Sydney. By rail Hornsby
is 33 km from Sydney Central. In 1916 around 100 were employed by NSW
Railways here : 78 of these were in the Hornsby Depot. The Station flag-pole
was located by the station gates on Station Street in the front of the
station and was removed many years ago. A new pole was provided for the 1916
ceremony. No photographs showing the 1916 pole exist. It is assumed that the
new pole had the same height as the original which means it was around 7
metres tall, and a third of the size of the Petone flagstaff.
to the Petone Chronicle, 29 April 1959 the ANZAC Day service at the Petone
Flagstaff was revived in 1953 after its unique history was brought to light
during re-painting operations [for the Royal Visit to Petone]. The Union
Jack flown for that occasion appears to have the first flag on the pole
since 1918. The 1995 service stemmed from work by the Jackson Street
Programme and Petone Lions to repaint the pole and landscape the area. A
plaque on the pole marks this work. On the railway side an area of paving
was added with a seat dedicated to the late Stan Frost who served with the
Railway Operating Group in North Africa during World War Two. It was a
comment Frost made on the rundown nature of the Memorial that led to the
1995 work. (The Jackson Street Programme is an association of Petone
retailers, trading on Jackson Street.)
The Petone Railway Workshops Roll Of Honour.
Dent, G. B. Machinist. 12th Battery, 3rd Brigade, NZ Field Artillery.
Falla, L. M. Carpenter. N.Z.F.A., 7th Reinforcements. *
Hastings, N. F. Fitter. Wellington Mounted Rifles. *
Henderson, L. A. Fitter. No. 2., Field Corps, N.Z. Engineers.
Kinsella, P. T. Carpenter. 2nd Battery, Wellington Regiment.
McFarlane, D. S. Fitter. Wellington Mounted Rifles. *
Shea, J. M. Casual fitter. 3rd Battery, Wellington Infantry Regiment. *
Wolinck, J. Labourer. Imperial Reservist.
Watson, R. Casual blacksmith. 1st Battalion, Canterbury Infantry
Wilson, R. Casual labourer. 2nd Battalion, Wellington Infantry
Source: NZR file R 3 W3281 15/3312 Roll of Honour boards Part 1 (1915-1942)
(* Petone resident). (The Petone Roll of Honour was relocated to the new
Lower Hutt site in 1929 and displayed in the Social Hall. It is currently in
storage). [Webmaster's comment: The Roll of Honour was lost when the Social Hall was sold.]
Butterworth, Susan. Petone : a history. Petone : Petone Borough Council, 1988.
Maclean, Chris and Phillips, Jock. The sorrow and the pride : New Zealand war memorials. Wellington : Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1990.
McGibbon, Ian. Gallipoli : a guide to New Zealand battlefield and memorials. Auckland : Reed in association with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, 2004.
Metzk, Mari. Hornsby Shire. Alexandria, NSW. : Kingsclear, 2004.
Pugsley, Christopher. ANZAC : the New Zealanders at Gallipoli. Auckland : Moa Beckett, 1995.
Sharpe, Maureen. ANZAC Day in New Zealand in New Zealand Journal of
History. vol. 15, no. 2 (Oct. 1981) p. 97-114
Cumberland Argus (NSW), 15.4.1916, 29.4.1916
Dominion, 26.4.1916, 2. 5.1922
Evening Post, 24.4.1916 ; 25.4.1916 ; 26.4.1916 ; 26.4.1918 ; 25.4.1919
Hutt News, 29.4.1953 ; 24.4.1973 ; 2.5.1995 ; 2.9.1995
New Zealand railway review, 5.5.1916
New Zealand Times, 25.4.1916 ; 26.4.1916
NZR staff bulletin, vol. 7, no. 2 (1958)
NSW railway and tramway budget, 1.3.1916, 1.4.1916, 1.5.1916, 1.6.1916,
Sydney Morning Herald, 26.4.1916
Petone Chronicle, 26.4.1956 ; 29.4.1959
Petone Herald, 2.6.1994, 30.6.1994
Discover Petone Petone : Petone Historical Society, 1993.
Discover Petone [Petone : Petone Historical Society], 2003
Petone, Hutt City [Lower Hutt] : Hutt City Council, 2000
Symbol of Anzac [Wellington]: [Railways] Publicity and Advertising
Branch, . (For ANZAC service, 1959) (Reprinted and updated for 1960 and 1961).
50th anniversary of Anzac. [Wellington] : Ditto, . (For ANZAC
service, 25 April 1965.)
50th anniversary of Petone Railway Station Commemorative Flagpole,
1916-1966. [Wellington] : Ditto, .
5. New Zealand Railways files (Archives New Zealand)
AAEB W3293 15/5862 ANZAC Day ceremony, Petone. Proposal to exchange flags
with Hornsby Railway Department, N.S.W. (1915-1974)
R 3 W3281 15/3312 Roll of Honour boards. Part 1 (1915-1942)
R 3 W2381 15/2128 Work for Defence Dept. Part 1 (1915-1918)
R-W3 9319 Erection of flagpole, Petone Railway Station. (1916-1965)
6. Petone Borough files (Hutt City Council Archive)
Miscellaneous council correspondence. Government correspondence. 1914-1919
Microfilmed minute book. Reel 1 (1915-1921). 2005/40. ARCH 73123. Meeting
of 7 April 1916.
www.anzacs.org (epitaphs and names)
Special thanks to:
1. Ken Williams, Manager, Australian Railway Historical Society, Redfern,
2. Neil Chippendale, Hornsby Central Library, Hornsby, NSW.
3. Tony Bartley Architects, Wellington.
4. Alison Scott, Archivist, Hutt City Council, Lower Hutt.