Trooper James Hughes, of the Wellington Mounted Rifles, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, dies at the age of 32 on 17 October 1915

Abridged from Paignton Western Guardian 21 October 1915

He was wounded at Gallipoli, and arrived with several other New Zealanders at Paignton. His injuries consisted of a gunshot wound in the head, with fracture of skull, his condition being hopeless from the first, though magnificent nursing kept him alive for six weeks.

It was a pathetic but inevitable fact that so far from his home, no relatives of the deceased could attend the funeral on Tuesday. Atonement was made for this as far as possible by the attendance in strength of members of the 7th Devon Territorials under Capt. Hunter besides a party of wounded from Oldway and The Larches under Lance-Corpl. Sheard. The body was conveyed on a bier, wheeled by a party of eight of the Devons, the coffin being covered with the Union Jack. A firing party walked in front of the bier, the solemn procession proceeding from Oldway to the Roman Catholic Church Barnes Hill. Trooper Hughes belonged to the faith. The impressive obsequies of the Roman Church were performed by Father Kirk, who had been most assiduous in his attention to the dying soldier.

Before the coffin was carried out of the church for its last journey to the cemetery, Father Kirk addressed those in church, and said it was evident from the first the recovery was impossible. That hero – because all those who had fought in the present war were heroes – was a lion in battle, and he showed that by his bravery on the plains of Gallipoli, and in coming to the front. He had suffered very much indeed, but at the beautiful hospital, which was a source of consolation to so many of our soldiers, an operation was performed so skilfully and well, that it allowed him to spend six long weeks in preparing his soul for eternity, and he (Father Kirk) felt certain that soul had gone straight to God. If the departed had any small sins and imperfections, they had been wiped out by the resignation to God’s holy will in the time of suffering. He came all the way from New Zealand at the call of duty, and he was one of the victims of this terrible war. Father Kirk gave his own testimony to the kindness and perseverance of the good nurses at the hospital, and said he felt the deceased would not have lasted so long but for the gentleness, charity and kindness of the nurses. They all knew that God was stronger than the devil, and that the result of this fearful struggle between barbarism and civilization would be that God would triumph in the end.

Two wreaths were laid on the coffin, these being from the Commandant and Mrs. Gunning, the card bearing the words “He never faileth the path of duty,” the other being “With deep regret from the Hospital staff.”

After the service at the graveside at the cemetery, the firing party fired three volleys over the open grave and the bugle sounded the “Last Post.” A considerable number were present in addition to the military. The arrangements were made by Mr. R. Waycott.

Regiments Tagged - Wellington