Biographical information, contributed by family, Glenice Bullen: As the wounded came back, reinforcements were on their way to France from the training camps in England. Rifleman 49 /264, Jim (J. G.) Templeton, who had been in the Public Trust and sailed with his brother, Muir in the 27th Reinforcements to Britain in 1917, was sent to Brocton camp near Stafford.
Though he was graded Al, he was failed for the front because of a foot problem. For medical reasons Jim never made it to France. Thinking of Muir's trench foot, we may understand the reasons. With his clerical skills, he spent 1917 and 1918 in camp administration, rising to the rank of Sergeant.
Brocton camp had a better reputation than Sling, where Jim's elder brother Bill (a corporal) was to serve after being invalided to Britain from Egypt. Sling, the main New Zealand training camp in the heart of the undulating Salisbury Plain was 'unlovely, bleak and lonely', 'the one the British did not want'.
With the role of supplying reinforcement battalions for the division in France, the camp held over 4,000 soldiers. In the camps the unblooded troops trained intensively so that they would integrate into depleted battalions at the front.
Few ever forgot the follies the excessive parades, the apparently soul-less system, the limited rations and the poor medical services.
Future ministers and moderators of the kirk like Hubert Ryburn and Fraser Barton found little good in Sling. One Sling doctor was thought to have deserved shooting for his callous disregard of the sick at the time thousands were dying in France.
Another soldier, J. E. Tomlinson, wrote that 'Sling was run by tough Sergeant-Majors and snooping Lieutenants, many of whom had not been to France . . . discipline was very severe, food scarce, and work hard . . . It was like getting out of prison and I was glad to leave it.'
Jim Templeton may have missed the battles of the front but had to make his way in this harsh-enough world. In September 1918, he returned from leave. In Edinburgh he had sent his younger brother, Andrew and May at Ocean View a wedding present and looked forward optimistically, with the German army falling back and Austria-Hungary collapsing, to the war ending before Christmas.
Then Jim got caught up in 'The Great Epidemic'. The troop ship Tahiti, carrying late reinforcements to Europe, brought with it the extremely virulent black' or Spanish 'flu from South Africa. Modern research suggests the virus originated in swine. The 1918 version was completely novel and deadly. The hardest hit were young adults, usually the most resistant to 'flu infection.
Exposed to infection in the close manning of the military camps, strong young soldiers were in a few days reduced to physical wrecks. It was 'as though the whole system had been poisoned and the nervous system shattered'. In severe cases, neuralgia and acute pneumonia preceded death. 'The doctors were helpless. Little could be done but quarantine and isolate.
In the era before vaccines, the epidemic had to run its course.
Experienced in administration, Jim was posted to a remote makeshift quarantine camp in the north of England. As Camp Sergeant he had to accompany the Adjutant on the rounds of the bleak hospital huts. His task was to record deaths and then to itemise personal possessions, notify Divisional HQ and arrange the daily burial parties. As this new 'black death' took its toll, Jim found himself operating as Acting Adjutant.
The hardest task was to draft letters for the Camp Commander to send to families telling them of the loss of their sons. The New Zealand GOC's 'certificate of meritorious service' recognized this range of sad duties at what, for many young New Zealanders, was a death camp.
The epidemic over and the camp decommissioned, Jim was the last one to leave, locking the gates behind him.
On the whole, however, 1918 restored the confidence of the New Zealanders.
Wars and Rumours of Wars 133 The Problematical Journey by Hugh Templeton
Jim became a school teacher and married Agnes Gladys Campbell in 1923. They had 3 sons, Malcolm, Ian and Hugh Templeton.
Brother of Muir Campbell Templeton, John Templeton, William Stewart Templeton.
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