Biographical information, contributed by family Glenice Bullen: In France our soldiers, for the first time, fought purely as a New Zealand division. As part of the 1st Anzac Corps, the Division was involved in the rat battles of the Somme in 1916; as an element of General Plumer's 2nd Army spearheading the tragic battles in 1917 of 3rd Ypres; and in March 1918 earning fame in stemming the German breakthrough. Their days of glory continued with the great advances that led to the capture of Le Quesnoy a few days before the Armistice of 11 November 1918.
Many Templeton sons, and their cousins, the sons of Templeton mothers, served in that famous New Zealand Division. Take Rifleman 23 /619, John Jack Templeton, of B Company of the 1st New Zealand Rifle Brigade; the third son of William and Jessie of Otaitai had enlisted in May 1915, a flax miller, 24, ruddy and fair, with hazel eyes, short, tough and square; a fighter by nature and experience.
He spent 15 months of 1915 and 1916 in Egypt before going to France as a machine gunner with the dinks. We can only guess at Jack's major action. The story is quite bare. His section was overrun, and he alone came back. No one kept diaries in the trenches. Few talked about their soldiering later to their families.
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On the whole, however, 1918 restored the confidence of the New Zealanders.
Our men took part in the gradual roll-back of the German armies that destroyed the enemy morale. At the end the New Zealanders went on, one week before the armistice of the 11th of the 11th, on 4 November 1918 to scale the walls of Le Quesnoy.
This was one of the last seizures of a walled town in history. With Messines, Le Quesnoy was, for the New Zealanders, one of the significant victories of the Great War.
After the Armistice some, like Private John Templeton of Otaitai, marched on the Rhine and in the victory parades and might have played as a half-back with the famous New Zealand Divisional Rugby Team. But he was injured in a hard Battalion match just before selection. Selection there might have been greater reward than all those victory medals the diggers and the clinks wore without fanfare. Later generations may have taken their service and sacrifice too much for granted. Only history can judge the personal, family, and national cost of those hard-earned awards of war.
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Jack married Kathleen (Ruth) Strang in 1919 and had two daughters. On returning from the war he initially farmed and worked at the flaxmill before joining brother Bill in his store in the Wanganui area.
Brother to Muir Campbell Templeton 43906, William Stuart Templeton 8/1141, James George Templeton 49264, and son in law Clement Russell Strang 23/608
Son of William Templeton (1857-1933) born in Glasgow, the third son of John Templeton and Mary Campbell Muir who arrived in Sept 1862 on the ship Robert Henderson with children: Andrew, John, Mary, William and Agnes. The family, joined by Southland born James became involved with transport and business as merchants, storekeepers, farmers and William farming in Thornbury before establishing a Flaxmill at Otaitai Bush, Riverton in 1911.
The steam driven mill provided employment for up to 25 men and became an essential industry during both World Wars. The ‘golden years of milling’ were experienced prior to the end of the war in 1945 and the mill continued to produce baling twine and rope, woolpacks, flax matting and slips until its eventual demise and closure in 1972. The Templeton Flax Mill has been successfully operating under three generations of the Templeton family and now open to the public on the Southland Heritage Trail.
William married Jessie Milne Dawson daughter of Thomas Augustus Forbes Leith Dawson in 1885 and had a family of ten AWMM