A Soldier’s End: Sad accident near Gore. Farewell followed by fatality.
It is with very deep regret that we have to chronicle the death of one of our members, Mr Thos. Sharp, who was accidentally killed at Pukerau on October 11th, whilst on his way to Trentham prior to proceeding to the Front. He was given a send-off by his fellow-boarders at the Commercial Hotel, Gore, being presented with a wristlet watch by the railway employees, and again when he was entertained by the townspeople and presented with a shaving outfit. A large crowd gathered on the platform to bid him farewell, and many of them had not reached home when they received the sad news of his death. It is impossible to describe the gloom that was cast over the whole of Gore on receipt of the news. It appears that he alighted from the train at Pukerau (which is the first stop after leaving Gore) for the purpose of bidding farewell to some of his friends and fellow-employees, and as the train commenced to pull out he waited until the guard's van came up and jumped on, but missed his footing, with the result that the last bogie of the guard's van and those of the postal car went over him, killing him instantaneously. His body was brought back to Gore, where an inquest was held the following day, when the jury brought in a verdict of "Accidental Death," no blame being attachable to anyone. The jury also expressed their sorrow and deep regret that a young- man of the stamp of the deceased, who had offered his life service to his King and country, should meet with such an untimely end, and desired to express their sincere sympathy with the relatives and friends of the deceased in their sad bereavement.
Private Sharp was accorded a military funeral, which was one of the largest ever taken place at Gore, there being full 400 Territorials, Cadets, and members of both branches of the National Reserve on parade, while more than a thousand people assembled at the graveside. The coffin, which was draped in the Union Jack, was conveyed to the cemetery on a 15-pounder gun-carriage and limber, which was obtained from Invercargill, and was drawn by four horses kindly lent by O. M. S. Jackson Munro. Private Sharp's cap and side arms were placed on the coffin. The funeral, which left the Gore Hospital at 3 p.m., was headed by 12 Territorials (who comprised the firing party) with reversed arms, followed by the Gore Municipal Brass Band playing the "Dead March" from "Saul.” The gun-carriage, conveying the coffin, came next, followed by the chief mourners, including several members of the railway staff, after whom followed the members of the Oddfellows' Lodge, several returned troopers, Gore Territorials, Gore Cadets, and the Gore Pipe Band. Six fellow-employees of the deceased (Messrs Verev, Sleeman, White, Welsh, Strang and Murphy), dressed in railway uniform, with black sashes, acted as pallbearers. Captain Stevens, N.Z.S.C. (Balclutha), had charge of the funeral, and Lieutenant P. Boyne commanded the Territorials and Cadets, while Lieutenant J. E. Winsloe was in charge of the National Reserve. Lieutenant Craigie commanded No. 3 troop of the National Reserve. On arrival at the graveside, Captain Chaplain J. M. Simpson conducted the burial service, and Bro. J. Boyne, P.N.G., on behalf of the Oddfellows also read a short service. The firing party fired three volleys over the grave, and Buglers McCorkindale and D. Harland sounded the "Last Post." Deceased was a trustee of the local branch of the A.S.R.S. since its inception, and at a meeting of the Gore Branch, held on October 23rd, the following resolution was carried by all present standing in silence: That the members of the Gore Branch of the A.S.R.S. wish to express their deepest sympathy and condolence with the relatives and friends of the late Mr Thomas Sharp, who was accidentally killed at Pukerau on October 11th whilst on his way to fight for his king and country.
Deceased was a native of Denniston, where he was born on January 1888. When he was scarcely three years of age his parents moved to Branxholme, Tasmania, where the family has since resided. A little over four years ago deceased returned to New Zealand, joined the railway service, and was for the last three years stationed at Gore, where his quiet and unassuming manner gained for him the esteem of all he came in contact with. He was appointed Trustee to the Gore Branch A.S.R.S. when it was first opened, which position he held up to the time of his death. He was a member of a Tasmanian Order of Oddfellows, and also the Invercargill Railway Sick Benefit Society. He leave widowed mother, two sisters, and three brothers to mourn their loss. Railway review, 19 November 1915, pp 513-514 AWMM