Generations of Genes Copyright © Phyllis Jeans 2000
All rights reserved ISBN 0 473 03868 4
PEMM Publishing Cambridge, New Zealand
[p5] [The Jeans Line]
Jim, as a member of the Cambridge Troop of the Waikato Mounted Rifles, took part in a competition for the Mounted Scouts Challenge Cup, held during the annual training camp in 1915. According to the Waikato Times of 3 July, ‘Each trooper had to ride about 250 yards, dismount and fire three rounds at a target, mount and ride about 500 yards, fire five more rounds, then ride another 500 yards firing four rounds and return to starting point’. Jim scored 17, 21 and 24 (out of 25) for time, judging distance, and dress, and 30 out of 50 for shooting. Jim won the cup with a score of 92, although his time of 7 minutes 24 seconds was one of the slowest. As the newspaper reporter pointed out, time was not the deciding factor, good shooting was. Surgeon-Colonel Roberts (doner of the cup) who had also been one of the time-keepers, presented the cup, commenting the win was appropriate, as Jim was shortly leaving for Trentham for active service abroad. This cup is now in the Cambridge Museum.
War between Britain and Germany was declared in August 1914. New Zealand was immediately willing and ready to assist the country many still looked upon as ‘home’. New Zealanders made the ‘old country’s’ conflict, their conflict. In June, Jim had ‘given in’ his name; his enlistment dated from 23 August. The Waikato Times of 24 August reported the volunteers gathered at the Horse Bazaar in Hamilton. After being tallied, they lunched at the Royal Tea Rooms, and then accompanied by a band, marched to the intersection of Victoria, Hood and Grantham Streets where a large crowd had gathered. The majority of business premises closed for half-an-hour and schoolchildren formed a quadrangle round the soldiers. The Mayor of Hamilton addressed the assembly, wishing the soldiers farewell and God-Speed. The response to the colours, he noted, had been splendid in the Waikato. Archdeacon Cowie also spoke, expressing the wish they would return ‘health-whole and to feel for the rest of their days that they had been privileged to take part in the greatest crisis in human history’. To the strains of ‘Tipperary’ the troops marched to Frankton where they received a ‘stirring ovation’ from the estimated two thousand people there. The men boarded the Main Trunk express, ‘and as the troop train disappeared round the distant bend one heard deep sighs on all hands and handkerchiefs were in great evidence’.
At the time of his enlistment Jim was five feet ten inches tall, twenty-one years old, one hundred and sixty pounds in weight, with brown eyes, black hair and dark complexion. By 9 October he was on his way overseas on the troopship Aparima. When he arrived in Egypt in November he was posted to the Auckland Mounted Rifles (Ministry of Defence Records). It was to be almost four years before he again saw the shores of New Zealand.
Several postcards and letters written by Jim while he was overseas still survive. They are little enough to record those years but do tell something of his thoughts and experiences during his time as a soldier. In September 1916 he sent a postcard from Romani, to Dorrie Potts in Cambridge. Inscribed ‘My
Jim. 1915. Private Collection.