The Kowai Bush War Memorial, erected by residents of the small rural farming community to commemorate their war dead, is found way off the beaten track along Kowai Road, on the right hand side just before the junction with Rubicon Road.
It stands alone. St George and the Dragon grace the white pillar’s top and the names of Kowai’s brave men are listed around the centre while a WW2 commemoration adorns the base.
The memorial has recently been very well renovated and the names and information are now clearly readable.
For such a small community their contribution to the war was large, as is eloquently pointed out by this newspaper article from 1917.
EVANS, Percy William Edgar – Rifleman, New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 1st Battalion
Killed in action at The Somme, France on 10 December, 1916. Age 22.
NZ Army WW1 Nominal Rolls show his last address as Methven and he was unmarried.
Father: Richard Robert Evans of Kowai Bush.
Mother: Christina nee PETRIE.
Percy was the youngest of the four children of Richard and Christina Evans.
His siblings are:
- Walter Charley b. 1889 (d. 6 August 1915 at Gallipoli – also on memorial – see below)
- Grace Ilsley b. 1891
- Nellie Caroline b. 1887
Following the death of Christina in 1896, Richard remarried to Alice Ann HODGSON in 1897. They had two children:
- Edith Gladys b. 1899
– Muriel Lillian b. 1901
Christina and Richard Robert Evans are buried together in Kowai Pass Cemetery near Springfield.
Killed in action at Gallipoli on 6 August 1915. Age 26.
Brother of Percy William Edgar EVANS – see above.
MILLIKEN, William Thomas – Trooper, 20th Reinforcements, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade.
Killed in action in Amman on 28 March 1918, during the first and failed attempt to capture Amman (27-29 March 1918).
Father: John Milliken
Mother: Elizabeth (Lizzie) Arthurs nee LONG
William’s parents married in Islandmagee, a parish in County Antrim, Ireland (near Larne) in August, 1879. They had both been born in this parish. The year following their marriage, they travelled to Lyttleton onboard the Durham.
William Thomas was the sixth child born to John and Lizzie, and one of at least nine children in total. His siblings are:
- James Milliken: 1878 – 1944
- Robert Milliken: 1882 – 1956
- John Milliken: 1884 –
- Ivy Iloine/Eileen Milliken: 1890 – 1959
- Nina Sylvaline (Vina Sylvia) Milliken: 1892 – 1970
- William Thomas Milliken: 1894 – 1918
- Gladys Amelia Milliken: 1897 – 1973
- Myrtle Doris Milliken: 1900 – 1985
- Albert Edward Milliken: 1902 – 1995
Many Milliken memorials can be found in the Kowai Pass Cemetery near Springfield.
GOLD, Robert Edward – Sapper, 5th Reinforcements, Wellington Infantry Battalion.
Killed in action at The Somme on 1 October 1916. Age (approx.) 20.
Father: William Gold
Mother: Johann nee WILSON
Robert was one of six children. His siblings are:
- Elizabeth Helen: b. 1890
- William David: b. 1892 (d. 14 August 1917 – Rafa – also on memorial – see below)
– James Alexander: b. 1893
- Agnes Ethel: b. 1900
- Ruby Evelyn: b. 1903
Both Robert’s parents died in 1919 and are buried in Kowai Pass Cemetery near Springfield.
GOLD, William David – Lance Corporal, Main Body / Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Died 14 August 1917 from wounds received in battle at Rafa (Rafah). Age 25.
Buried: Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt
William is the brother of Robert Edward GOLD, see above.
Born: 27 November 1919
Died: 18 January 1942. Shot down by Japanese fighters, Singapore. Missing presumed dead.
Commemorated: Singapore Memorial, Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore
Father: Alan Douglas Cox
Mother: Heather Maxwell nee Campbell
Ernest was educated at Christ’s College, Christchurch and Canterbury University. He then went on to work as a clerk with accountants Frank Graham & Sons in Christchurch.