Dedication: To the Dead

Dedication in “Walk March” typescript

Warwick St. George Ruxton Wilson, of Scotch and Irish ancestry, who when he died suddenly and painlessly at the age of 77, was head of a well-known Auckland legal firm, was, from school days, my lifetime friend.  He and I were A.L. (afterwards Sir Alexander) Herdman’s clerks in Wellington in 1905 and we came to Auckland within a year of one another in 1912 – 1913, where he joined as junior partner of the firm of which he finally became the senior member.  He did a lot of motor cycling then, running a branch office in Waiuku, which recalls that after the tragic drowning of his brother Noel, he had promised his mother never to take up yachting.  It did not occur to her that motor-cycling was at least as hazardous.  Noel’s yacht had capsized at Wellington Heads, leaving him and his two companions clinging to wreckage in a terrific sea which even the Harbour Tug could not face.  Watched helplessly by the Pencarrow Lighthouse Keeper, Noel held on for an hour longer than his companions.

In 1916 we both enlisted in the Artillery, going into Featherston Camp in August when he had been married for about one year and I for nine.

I have an old photograph of our Sub-Section showing us both as tough young soldiers.  His eldest son, Ian, was born in lodgings near by and after the christening he cooly informed me I had become its Godfather in absentia.  Twenty-four years later we evened things up by making him Godfather to our daughter Belinda (by my second wife, the first having died childless).  Both Ian and another son were killed as air pilots in the Battle of Britain and a third survived the war.

In the army he was the mainstay of my sanity under conditions more trying to one of my touchy nature than to his calmer and more stoical one.  I must often have exasperated him with my grousing but the worst I ever got as a rebuke was “You do go on and on”.

His wife died some years before him, their three surviving children all happily married, so he spent his last years at his club.  His chief hobby was golf at week-ends with a few old cronies.  After his sudden death, just before dinner at his Club, his doctor ordered the body to be taken to the private hospital which he had patronised.  By mistake, it was taken to the General Hospital where Belinda was nursing.  She was on duty laying out the dead and did the last offices to Warwick’s body mechanically without studying his features.  On looking at the identification card she fell back crying “Oh, it’s my God-father!”  A senior doctor took her kindly aside and made her sit down and rest.  How did that come about?  Who knows?  She loved him.

I started this Dedication to my dead friend intending only a short note, but felt that would not do justice to his memory.  We hadn’t many tastes in common; perhaps why our friendship never failed.  He was “Salt of the Earth”, and his quiet qualities of good humour, integrity and reliability will be remembered by all who ever knew him”.

(Lincoln Lee – likely written mid 1960s)

“An old photograph of our Sub-Section showing us both as tough young soldiers”