Frederick Rands is one of eight military chaplains recorded in the Auckland University College (AUC) Roll of Honour and one of two who died on active service.1 However, his death from influenza in Germany in February 1919 was not captured in the Roll or other contemporary University publications, unlike that of Alexander Allen, who was killed in action at the Somme in 1918.2
By war’s end, more than 130 New Zealand military chaplains had served overseas. They were attached to battalions and served in the trenches, at dressing stations and base hospitals, on troop and hospital ships, at training camps and at headquarters. At the frontlines, they assisted the medical teams, comforted the wounded and dying, helped soldiers write wills, officially identified the dead, officiated at burials and wrote condolence letters to relatives. They held church parades (services), helped maintain morale and carried out numerous other tasks. 3
Frederick Rands attended AUC from 1906-1907 as a non-matriculated student. His prowess on the hockey field for the regional and University teams meant that his loss to AUC was noted with `regret’ in The Kiwi magazine when he left for Otago University College and entered the Methodist ministry. 4
Born in Methven, Canterbury on 20 March 1883,5 Rands was the fifth of seven children of Emma (nee Postle) and builder Henry Rands, who in 1875 emigrated from Yorkshire, England to Christchurch on board the Waitangi.6
Between 1908 and when he enlisted with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Chaplains Department, Rands held ministries in Dunedin South, Levin, Wellington South, Kaponga and Marton.7 In March 1912, he married Dorothy Clark in Wellington in a ceremony officiated by her father, Rev. J.R. Clark, also a Methodist minister.8 They had a son in 1914. Rands remained a keen sportsman, competing in athletics, hockey and Harriers. His physical fitness also proved useful in his ministry as he reportedly won over a new church-goer in Kaponga by successfully completing a challenge to chop a pile of wood within a certain time.9
Rands was attested for service in February 1917 as a chaplain, fourth class. While in charge of the Methodist institute at Trentham Military Camp, he cycled to work each day from his home nearby.10 Fourteen months later and 19 days after his daughter was born,11 Rands left New Zealand on 23 April 1918 with the 36th Reinforcements on board the Willochra, bound for Egypt and the Western Front.
According to Port light, the 36th Reinforcements’ magazine, Rands’ presence on the Willochra and that of two men from the Young Mens Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) was a `… source of great comfort to the troops.’12 They `right heartily … entered into the life of the ship, and ever ready are they to tender the helping hand and the kind word to one and all.’13 As padre for the journey, Rands took services and on at least one occasion used as a make-shift pulpit ‘a table shrouded with a Union Jack and set upon the covered hatchway.’14 He also led evening hymns: ‘We sit on the boat-deck in the sunset glow. The Padre commences the song-service, and as the sweet melodies of the hymns are borne to us on the evening breeze, we gaze at the golden sky and remember our homes.’15 Rands received ‘… a good response from the boys at all his meetings, and is very pleased that the men are taking his words to heart’.16 The magazine does not record how much traction he got with his `… plea for the suppression of rude words.’17 While on the Willochra, Rands also lectured on `The White Slave Traffic’ and took part in meetings of the Y.M.C.A.’s proselytising Brotherhood of Men of Goodwill. Some of the Brotherhood's leaders became Christian pacifists after the war.18 He displayed broad musical talents, singing The Last Race of the Rio Grande during an evening concert, for which he was ‘…heartily applauded’, followed by an encore of William Tell.19
After a month in camp near Suez, the 36th Reinforcements left for England, arriving in Southampton on 18 July, after which they were dispersed into various units heading to the Western Front.20 However, Rands may have travelled separately as his military record notes he was admitted to hospital in Suez the day the troops departed. 21 In September 1918 he was attached to an Entrenching Group and in mid-October, a month before the armistice, he was attached to the 1st Battalion, Auckland Regiment, which was fighting in France. While with the Battalion, he managed to attend a Y.M.C.A. Brotherhood rally and officiated at the evening service.22
After the armistice, Rands' Battalion were among those who tramped most of the way from France to Cologne, Germany, where they formed part of the Occupation Force.23 The New Zealanders in Cologne were already being demobilised when Rands, aged 35, fell victim to the global influenza epidemic.24 ‘Chaplain Frederick Rands, who was in a rundown state of health as a result of war service, laboured unceasingly with the victims and conducted continuous funerals, until he himself caught the virus and died on 14 February 1919…’.25 He is buried in the military cemetery in Cologne.
Jo Birks, Special Collections
- ‘Rands, Fred. R’. A.U.C. Roll of Honour. MSS & Archives E-2. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.
- ‘Rands, Frederick - WW1 42884 – Army’, R20804105, Archives New Zealand, Wellington; ‘Allen, Alexander’. A.U.C. Roll of Honour. MSS & Archives E-2. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.
- J.B. Haigh, Men of faith and courage: The official history of New Zealand’s army chaplains, Auckland, 1983, pp.11-13, 46; Herbert Farrant, Elizabeth Morey and Delysse Storey, eds., A strong sense of duty: the First World War letters of Chaplain the Reverend Clive Mortimer Jones 1917-1920, Auckland, 2013, pp.10-12.
- ‘Rands, Fred. R’. A.U.C. Roll of Honour; Auckland Star, 21 September 1907, p.12, accessed via Papers Past; The Kiwi: Official Organ of the Auckland University College, 4, 1, 1908, p.29.
- ‘Rands, Frederick - WW1 42884 – Army’, R20804105.
- Henry Rands, Autobiography of Henry Rands, Auckland, 1985, pp.1-2; 4.
- Evening Post, 21 February 1919, p.2, accessed via Papers Past.
- ‘Rands, Frederick - WW1 42884 – Army’, R20804105.
- Maxwell Rands, Memoirs of a minor chemist, Auckland, 1993, pp.1, 3.
- ‘Rands, Frederick - WW1 42884 – Army’; Feilding Star, 6 February 1917, p.3, accessed via Papers Past; Rands, 1993, p.3.
- ‘Rands, Frederick - WW1 42884 – Army’; Rands, 1993, p.3.
- ‘Rands, Frederick - WW1 42884 – Army’; R.H. Kempton and M. Scully, eds., The port light : N.Z.E.F. 36th Reinfs. : H.M.N.Z.T. Willochra, at sea, [1918?], p.33.
- The port light, [1918?], p.33.
- The port light, [1918?], p.42.
- The port light, [1918?], p.8.
- The port light, [1918?], p.18.
- Ormond Burton, The silent division: New Zealanders at the front, 1914-1919, Sydney, 1935, p.287.
- The port light, [1918?], pp.9, 33, 27.
- The port light, [1918?], pp.9, 12.
- The port light, [1918?], p.9; ‘Rands, Frederick - WW1 42884 – Army’.
- ‘Rands, Frederick - WW1 42884 – Army’; The Triangle trail; troopship, training camp, trench: The New Zealand Y.M.C.A. on active service, London, 22, 1918, p.4.
- Peter Cooke, Ken Stead, John Gray, Auckland infantry: the story of the Auckland (Countess of Ranfurly's Own) and North Auckland regiments and of the citizen soldiers who served New Zealand, Auckland, 2010, pp.207-209.
- Triangle Trail, 27, 1919, p.8; ‘Rands, Frederick - WW1 42884 – Army’.
- Haigh, 1983, p.84.