University debaters 1915
Six members of the Auckland University College Debating Society pose proudly around a large Athenaeum Cup won in the 1915 Auckland debating competitions. One of the moots that year was, `That this war will solve the problem of armaments.’1
The absent seventh debater is already in military uniform; the rest would join him before the end of the war. Aged between 19 and 24 when they enlisted, only five would survive beyond their twenties.
After enlisting in September 1915, Taylor had ambulance training and gained a first aid certificate before leaving the country in October with the 7th Reinforcements. A private in the New Zealand Medical Corps, he served in hospitals in Egypt and with No. 3 NZ Field Ambulance on the Western Front. He was wounded at Flers in October 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. He rejoined his unit before being attached to headquarters in England.3
In October 1918, Taylor was awarded a scholarship to Merton College, Oxford, funded by the Rhodes Trustees through the Overseas Sailor and Soldier Scholarship scheme. He graduated MA with a first in English language and literature.4
Taylor first lectured at Leeds and Durham Universities and then in 1926 was appointed Professor of English at the University of Tasmania, Hobart, where he stayed until retirement in the late 1950s.5 Married in 1931 to Molly Fitzgerald, the couple had three children. Albert Booth Taylor died in 1971.6
Studying towards a law degree at AUC in 1913-1915, Kinloch co-shared a prize in his first year for jurisprudence and constitutional history. As well as debating, he played tennis and cricket and was part of the 1915 Haslam Shield-winning University Rifle Club team.8
Kinloch embarked with the 16th Reinforcements in August 1916. Reaching the rank of bombardier, Kinloch served on the Western Front from February 1917, mostly with 12th Battery, 3rd New Zealand Field Artillery Brigade.9
He returned home in May 1919 and took a part-time teaching position at Auckland Grammar School. He also resumed some old pursuits, including competing with the University’s Rifle Club in April 1920.10
On 31 May 1920, Richard Kinloch died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound `while of unsound mind.’ His ill-health was attributed to his war service, with one obituary writer stating, ‘We feel that he laid down his life for his country equally with those who died on the field of battle.’11
Memories of the bloodshed and post-war disillusionment contributed to his conversion to Christian pacifism. ‘The things we had gone away to fight for, the high aims and ideals which had taken us to the war, none of these had been attained… War obviously could not be a means for achieving any purpose that was remotely Christian,’ he wrote.13
Ryburn was born in Wellington in 1895 to James and Elizabeth Ryburn (nee Law), and completed his first year at AUC in 1915 before enlisting in February 1916.14
On his return, he studied at the University of Otago and the Presbyterian seminary, receiving an MA in 1922. That year he was ordained, married Hilda May Tizard (who also studied at AUC) and was selected for a mission in India. The couple had three children and lived in India until 1959, where Ryburn worked as a high school principal and educationist.15
Described as a `prolific writer of progressive education literature’, Ryburn was conferred with a DLitt in 1948 and awarded an OBE in 1967. He died in 1986.16
Born in Ireland in 1897 to Reverend William Platt and his wife Elizabeth, Westlake James Platt attended AUC in 1915-1916, studying Latin, English, French and mental science. An all-rounder, Platt was a member of the students’ association, the debating, literary and Men’s Common Room clubs and played rugby.17
He enlisted in January 1917 and left New Zealand in April with the 25th Reinforcements, serving on the Western Front from September 1917 with the Auckland Regiment and then 3rd Battalion, 3rd Rifle Brigade.18 He was discharged in May 1919 in England where he secured a New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford to study history and economics. Known by then as James, he graduated BA in modern history in 1921 and MA in 1927.19
Platt had an international career in management and was involved in management education, authoring numerous reports on the subject. He was awarded a CBE in 1965. Married to Hope (nee Arnold ), Platt died in Jersey in 1972.20
Australia-born Leslie Matheson was fresh out of AUC with a BA and an MA Hons and teaching at Auckland Grammar when he attested for service in September 1917. As well as debating, he was also active in AUC's Cercle Molière.21
After enlisting, Matheson and two other teachers were granted leave from duty until the end of term due to the disruption their departure would have caused the school.22
Arriving in England in July 1918 with the 38th Reinforcements, Matheson’s higher education and teaching skills were put to good use as an instructor with the NZEF's Education Department. Set up earlier that year, its classes aimed to occupy convalescents, retrain those who could not resume former occupations and keep nearly 60,000 men engaged while waiting for demobilisation after the Armistice.23
After discharge, Matheson taught at Scots College in Wellington and then in the Hawke's Bay. Married with three sons, Leslie Matheson died in Havelock North in 1964.24
Reynolds took Latin, English, French and possibly some law. He was in the 1916 Haslam Shield-winning Rifle Club team, the Literary Club and Cercle Molière.26
He left New Zealand with the 27th Reinforcements, serving from November 1917 with 1st Battalion, Auckland Regiment, which was then in the Ypres Salient. He joined the Australian tunnellers for a time but was back with the Auckland Regiment in March 1918 when he was wounded during the German spring offensive at the Somme. After recuperating at the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital, Hornchurch, England, Reynolds remained there as an educational instructor. In 1919, he was promoted to sergeant with the NZEF Education Department in London.27
Awarded an NZEF scholarship to study English and classics at Merton College, Reynolds graduated BA from Oxford in 1922.28 In the mid-1920s, he was in London`…doing Boys' Club work in the East End.’29 We lose track of him after that and welcome information about his later life.
Corporal Frank Lewis Davis died from broncho-pneumonia after contracting influenza at Featherston Military Training Camp during the week the war ended in November 1918. The influenza pandemic claimed the lives of more than 170 at the camp, including fellow Collegian and assistant law lecturer Benson Henry Wyman, who died just days after Davis. In New Zealand, more than 8600 died from the pandemic.30
Davis was born in Sydney, Australia in 1897 to Miriam/Maude and Mark Davis. At AUC from 1915, Davis gained first class passes in all of his examinations. He also won multiple debating prizes and was treasurer of the Debating Society.31
He attested for service in October 1917, a day after he turned 20. By the time he entered camp in May 1918, he had graduated LLB and was working as a law clerk in the Auckland firm of Thorne and Thorne. He had previous experience in a Divisional Signal Company and at his death was with the 44th Specialists.32
Frank Davis is also commemorated on memorials in Featherston, at Auckland Grammar and the Auckland Hebrew Congregation in Grey’s Ave.33
Jo Birks, Special Collections
- All seven did well at Auckland Grammar School before attending Auckland University College. The Kiwi: Official organ of the Auckland University College, 11, 1916; Minute book, 1887-1916, Auckland University Debating Society, MSS & Archives E-4, Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.
- Auckland Star, 14 December 1915, p. 3; Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1915, p.173-175; 1916, p.173; A.B. Taylor to F.A. Sandall, 7 June 1961, University of Auckland historical collection. Part 1, MSS & Archives E-8, box 3, folder 2. Special Collections University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.
- `Taylor, Albert Booth - WW1 3/1201 - Army (R7824056)’, Archives New Zealand, Wellington; Auckland Star, 14 December 1915, p.3; Auckland Star, 7 January 1919, p.2.
- `Taylor, Albert Booth - WW1 3/1201 - Army’; Auckland Star, 7 January 1919, p.2, accessed via Papers Past.
- The Mercury, 19 January 1926, p.6, accessed via Trove; Leigh Dale, The enchantment of English : professing English literatures in Australian universities, Sydney, 2012, p.145. `A.B. Taylor’, accessed via AustLit.
- The Australasian, 6 June 1931, p.12, accessed via Trove; personal correspondence with family.
- Births, deaths and marriages online, Department of Internal Affairs; ‘Kinloch, Richard Edward Deacon - WW1 17152 - Army R18057481’, Archives New Zealand, Wellington.
- Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1914, pp.161, 163, 169, 170; 1915, pp.163, 179; The Kiwi: Official organ of the Auckland University College, 10, 1, 1915, p.33; New Zealand Herald, 14 January 1916, p.8, accessed via Papers Past; The Kiwi, 11, 1916, np.
- ‘Kinloch, Richard Edward Deacon - WW1 17152 - Army R18057481’.
- ‘Kinloch, Richard Edward Deacon - WW1 17152 - Army R18057481’; Auckland Grammar School Chronicle (AGSC), VIII, 1, 1920, pp.19-20; New Zealand Herald,26 April 1920, p.10, retrieved via PapersPast.
- ‘Kinloch, Richard Edward Deacon - WW1 17152 - Army R18057481’; New Zealand Herald, 2 June 1920, p.8; AGSC, pp.19-20.
- William Ryburn, The way of reconciliation : A study in Christian pacifism, Auckland, 1967, p.3; ‘Ryburn, William Morton - WW1 24058 - Army (R20809156)’, Archives New Zealand, Wellington.
- Ryburn, p.3.
- Births, Deaths and Marriages online, Department of Internal Affairs; Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1916, pp.177.
- Otago Daily Times, 7 July 1922, p.2, accessed via Papers Past; Paul Adams, ‘Who was New Zealand’s Most Prolific Writer of Progressive Education Literature, Now Unknown Today?’ New Zealand Journal of Teachers’ Work, 10, 2, 2013, pp.190-195; Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1917, p.161; Fremantle, Western Australia, Passenger lists, 1897-1963, accessed via Ancestry.com; William Ryburn, Through shadow and sunshine : The history of the Panjab mission of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, 1909-1959, Christchurch, 1961, foreword.
- Adams, pp.190-195; W.M. Ryburn to D. Robb, 14 June 1967, Sir Douglas Robb papers, MSS & Archives A-223, 3/5, Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.
- W. Platt to D. Robb, 25 February 1969, Sir Douglas Robb papers, MSS & Archives A-223, 3/3. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services. ‘Platt, Westlake James - WW1 46385 – Army’ (R20801736), Archives New Zealand, Wellington; Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1916, pp. 172, 180-182; 1917, pp.169-170, 174; The Kiwi, 11, 1916, pp.62, 71.
- ‘Platt, Westlake James - WW1 46385 – Army’.
- Evening Post, 12 April 1919, p.6, accessed via Papers Past; Ivo Elliott, The Balliol College Register 2nd edition 1833-1933, Oxford, 1934, p.370.
- The London Gazette, 4 June 1965 Supplement, p.5481; WorldCat search; W. Platt to D. Robb, 20 April 1970, Sir Douglas Robb papers, MSS & Archives A-223, 3/3.
- `Matheson, Leslie - WW1 76062 - Army (R21373696)’, Archives New Zealand, Wellington; Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1917, pp.132, 143; The Kiwi, 11, 1916, pp.62-63.
- `Matheson, Leslie - WW1 76062 - Army’; Auckland Star, 8 October 1917, p.5.
- `Matheson, Leslie - WW1 76062 - Army’; G.S. Richardson, The war effort of New Zealand, Auckland, 1923, p.221.
- AGSC, VIII, 1, 1920, p.21; Andrew Matheson, `Matheson, Leslie 76062', accessed via Clan Matheson.
- Births, deaths and marriages online, Department of Internal Affairs; Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1917, p.164; ‘Reynolds, Harry Ernest - WW1 49115’ – Army’ (R20805410), Archives New Zealand, Wellington.
- Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1916, pp.180-182, 188; The Kiwi, 11, 1916, pp.62-63, 68, 70.
- ‘Reynolds, Harry Ernest - WW1 49115’ – Army; Peter Cooke, John Gray and Ken Stead, Auckland infantry, Auckland, 2010, p.176.
- Press, 28 April 1919, p.4, accessed via Papers Past; Merton College & Robert Levens, Merton College register, 1900-1964: with notices of some older surviving members, Oxford, 1964, p.119.
- The Kiwi, 19, 1924, p.62.
- Evening Post, 16 November 1918, p.8, accessed via Papers Past; ‘Wyman, Benson Henry – WW1 N/N - Army’, Archives new Zealand, Wellington; Tim Shoebridge, Featherston Military Training Camp and the First World War, 1915-27, Wellington, 2012, p.34; Ministry for Culture & Heritage; ‘The 1918 influenza pandemic’, accessed via NZHistory online.
- `Davis, Frank Lewis - WW1 79726 – Army, R20995763’, Archives New Zealand, Wellington; AGSC, 1, 1918, p.13; Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1916, pp.180-182, 188-189; 1917, pp.175-176; The Kiwi, 11, 1916, p.62.
- Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1919, p.145; `Davis, Frank Lewis - WW1 79726 – Army, R20995763’.
- `Frank Lewis Davis’, Cenotaph database, Auckland War Memorial Museum, accessed 15 May 2016.