The Scottish Society in Christchurch was founded in 1902; in the early years of the Society membership was restricted to males of at least eighteen years of age, who “must be Scotsmen by birth, parentage, or descent on the male side.”
The War Years
From the Society’s records we know that 24 members and 44 sons of members enlisted.
One of the main events of the Society’s calendar during the year were ceilidhs (concerts) and at these during the war years it was usual to pass round the “pirlie pig” (Scottish piggy bank) where proceeds collected were devoted to the relief of the starving and needy in Belgium and the Scottish Hospital War Fund.
Friday 23rd February 1917
The Society obtained permission from His Worship, The Mayor of Christchurch, Mr Henry Holland to conduct a sale of heather in the streets of Christchurch, the proceeds to go to the Belgian Fund. Councillors and ladies of the Society bunched up 2000 sprigs tied with Belgian colours. 24 lady sellers toiled from 10.30am to 6.30pm and an impromptu concert was held in Cathedral Square including Highland Dancing on a lorry and realized a sum of £11 4s 11d. The total proceeds from functions including the “pirlie pig” at earlier céilidhs amounted to £144 4s 0½d, very creditable.
Friday 22nd February 1918
Held again in Cathedral Square together with a collection at the Addington Sale Yards on the 20th and an auction at a céilidh on the 21st raised £154 11s 9d going to the Scottish Hospital War Fund.
General Sir Ian Hamilton, GCB GCMG DSO TD, Commander In Chief, Mediterranean and Inspector-General of Overseas Forces
A special Céilidh was held by the Society on Saturday May 2nd 1914 to welcome General Sir Ian Hamilton, a Life Member of the Society. The General was in New Zealand as Inspector General of Overseas Forces. In Sir Ian’s reply to Chief James MacKintosh’s welcome, he said “Brother Scots and may I say Sister Scots, I thank you very much for the way you have received me and the delightful things said about me by your Chief. I would like to pay particular emphasis to the Sister Scots because in other parts I have usually by men only.”
At a Council meeting Thursday 5th September 1918 Chief Alex McGillavray read a letter received from Sir Ian Hamilton as follows: “I write to send a special message to my old friends and kindest wishes to the Scottish Society. Most willingly do I do so for as truth shall out and at times desperate have been my adventures since the Spring of 1914, they have not effaced and never as long as my heart continues to beat will they efface the memory of that happy gathering of the Highlands and lowlands at Christchurch – the best message I can send them and it is one they thoroughly understand is the motto of the Gordons – ‘Bydand’ Standfast. A test and sermon in one word, may all good luck attend you. War test nations as much as it tests individuals and the way New Zealand is coming through the war ordeal carries promise of future achievements and of power.’
The Society’s Roll of Honour
At last night’s gathering of the Scottish Society, Chief John Aitken, in the presence of a large audience, unveiled the Society’s Roll of Honour. The names are lettered in gold on the roll, which is of oak: it contains the names of 24 members and 44 sons of members. Amongst those present were Colonel J B McClymont, Lieutenant J B Chisholm, and other returned soldiers.
Chief Aitken, in unveiling the Roll of Honour, said that when the call came members of the Society and their sons responded promptly, and joined their friends across the sea to help in forming a wall of liberty around the world. Those who had given their lives died in faith for the sake of liberty, honour, home, and God, and rested in their graves under the stars in alien lands, which they fell. Sir Harry Lauder (well known Scottish entertainer who visited the Society in 1923), referring to the death of his own son, had said: “There’s one little piece of France that belongs to me.” Parents in the Scottish Society could say: Parts of Flanders, of Palestine, of Mesopotamia, or of Gallipoli are ours.” Many memorials, some national, he said in concluding, had been erected; almost every church, and every workshop in the Empire had its roll of honour, and now the Scottish Society had its, with a very good record on it.
“The Flowers of the Forest” was played Piper S R Smith, those present standing with bowed heads.
In 2002 the Roll of Honour was given a good clean and the gold lettering renewed where needed and displayed for the Centenary Celebrations, then at some stage was relegated to attic only to be brought out again when discovered earlier this year with the promise that for ever on it shall remain “on display”. With its timely return to the main hall I saw an article in the “Press” – New Zealand WW100 and thought it most prudent to commemorate the Scottish Society’s involvement with WW100 and CWW100. A programme is being formulated for a service to be held at the Scottish Society hall in St Albans next year which will encompass members of the Society, our Pipe Band, other Scottish entities, the RSA and local community groups.
Chieftain, WW100 & CWW100 Society Contact & Newsletter Editor
SCOTTISH SOCIETY OF NEW ZEALAND