Colonel Plugge (pronounced Pluggy) was a well known local identity in Thames district. He was also the Headmaster of Dilworth Ulster Institute in Epsom, Auckland from 1909-1914.
Colonel Plugge has the distinction of being the first name on the Auckland Roll with the Regimental Number 12/1. In the Auckland district there were four infantry regiments: 3rd Auckland, 6th Hauraki, 15th North Auckland, and 16th Waikato. Each of the Regiments provided a Company and also certain specialists to form the Battalion for service overseas. The four companies of the Battalion thus formed retained the names and badges of the Territorial Regiments from which they were drawn. The organisation and commands were as follows: Commanding Officer - Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Plugge, Second in Command - Major Harrowett, Adjutant - Captain Alderman.
The Battalion left New Zealand on 22 September 1914 but had to return because of the German Pacific Fleet in the area. On 11 October they sailed for Wellington to join the Expeditionary Force assembling there. At dawn on 16 October 1914 the transports departed for Hobart. From there they headed for Egypt and arrived at Alexandria on 3 December. The troops went to Zeitoun Camp. In April, on board the captured liner Lutzow they sailed for Gallipoli and the Auckland Battalion was the first New Zealand force to land on 25 April 1915. Colonel Plugge was struck by a flying fragment which lodged in his wrist. He was not badly wounded. The Battalion withdrew from Turkey on 20 December that year.
Plugge's Plateau at Gallipoli was so named on the first day of fighting when Colonel Arthur Plugge 37 Commanding the Auckland Battalion, placed his headquarters there. To the Turks it became known as Hain Tepe or 'Treacherous Hill' because of the effect of the battery on them. (see Gallipoli a Battlefield Guide, p. 162)
1st Auckland arrived in France on 16 April 1916
At the Battle of the Somme in August 1916 Colonel Plugge was in command of the 1st New Zealand Infantry Brigade, the veterans of Anzac, who smashed the last line of the German defence. 1st Auckland took over 750 yards of the line. Of the 1500 men who went into battle, 300 were killed and 700 wounded. In spite of these high casualties it was regarded as a great victory.
In December 1916 Colonel Plugge CMC was detached for special work in physical and recreational training.
There is a cemetery in Turkey named after Lt. Col. Plugge called Plugge's Plateau Cemetery. This area was the headquarters of Lt. Col. Plugge during the Anzac landing.
The Auckland Museum Library's manuscripts collection contains a school assignment outlining the military career of Arthur Plugge, researched and compiled by Richard Campbell, of Dilworth School. [Ref. MS 2002/140]
Plugge's Plateau was captured by the 3rd Australian Infantry Brigade on the 25th April, 1915, and named later for Colonel A. Plugge, C.M.G., Commanding Auckland Battalion, whose Headquarters were there. It became a battery position, a reservoir, and a position on the "Inner Line" of defences, and on its Western slopes were the Anzac Headquarters. There are now over 20 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. The Cemetery covers an area of 198 square metres. Anzac is the midmost of the three areas into which the fighting on Gallipoli and the cemeteries on the Peninsula are divided. Plugge's Plateau (pronounced "Pluggy's") was the name given to the hill, 100 metres above sea level, to which the cliff rises from Ari Burnu. Plugge's Plateau Cemetery is on the north-west corner of the Plateau. (Source: http://www.gallipoli.gov.au/2visiting/plugges.html
Auckland War Memorial Museum Scars on the Heart WWI "The En Zeds " display case. Display item is a named photograph "From Auckland to the pryamids some of King's College old boys with the NZEF in Egypt", it was published in the Auckland Weekly News, 1 April 1915.
Arthur Plugge – 1877-1934
Arthur began his life in Yorkshire and after his education he immigrated to Australia on the “Port Elliott” as the 4th mate. He arrived in Sydney on 5th November 1900. By the end of the year he was in New Zealand. He taught at Kings College in Auckland then situated near Market Road in Epsom. He was 6’4” tall, weighed about 266 pounds (95kg) and had a booming voice. He was deputy head of the college when he was appointed in 1909 to be the headmaster of the “Dilworth Ulster Institute” now known as Dilworth School – just next door.
He introduced swimming, drill, cricket and tennis to the curriculum as well as organising school camps. Regardless of his size and voice which often frightened the new boys, he was a fair and approachable man.
In 1910 he married Millicent Helen Philson Aickin and they lived in the school house which was also partly classrooms.
In 1911, when he wanted to buy a pony and trap for his personal use, he got permission from the board to keep his horse on the school grounds. The school already had sheep, cows and pigs on the property. That same year the board built the headmaster’s house in Mt St John Avenue so the family could live away from the school. This also allowed the school to expand from the original 25 boys to 65.
Arthur was a member of the Territorials and became the Colonel of the Auckland Regiment and in 1909 when the Grafton Bridge opened his men were used to “test” the bridge.
By 1914 when the Board refused to allow further education for the 13 and 14 year old boys with potential, he resigned and enlisted with the number 12/1 as the first name on the list of the Auckland Infantry and departed in October for Egypt, leaving behind his wife and 3 young children.
He did not come back to NZ until June 1918. He was made a CMG, receiving his award personally from the Governor General.
On his return he took up a job as a rehab officer and went to farm on a property on Ten Foot Road near Taupiri. For a time he “camped” on the land while his wife and children lived at the hotel in town. According to visitors he never really came to terms with life on a farm.
In 1925, their eldest son Arthur James Philson Plugge went to England aboard the “Turakina”. He was 13 years and 8 months old. His destination was “Wal…. Mayfield Rise. He joined the British Navy in 1933 and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He was killed in February 1942 and is listed on the Memorial at Lee-on Solent.
Arthur senior appeared to all around him a “broken man,” and after hearing about the death of their second son John in England in an aircraft accident in 1934, he died in July the same year.
Above biography was transcribed, researched and written by Margaret Nash of Panmure Branch of NZSG