On 4th August 1924, an oak grown from an acorn sent home to Christchurch from Gallipoli (the birthplace of the ANZACS) was planted beside the Bridge of Remembrance by his Honour (Mayor) J.A. Flesher.
Lt. Douglas Deans – from the early pioneering family and a soldier with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles – enlisted at the outbreak of World War I. He trained in Egypt and then headed to Gallipoli. He took part in the heroic assault on the Turks at Chunuk Bair. After returning to England as one of the wounded, he re-joined the war in Egypt. Douglas was soon back at Gallipoli on garrison duty.
From the Gallipoli battle field, a few acorns were collected by Deans in 1918. They were placed in a tobacco tin and sent home to older brother James who managed the family’s farm of Homebush, in Darfield. James planted them in Homebush’s tree nursery and soon, signs of life began to show.
Ten years later, to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of WWI, one of these young oak was gifted to the city. It was planted by the Bridge of Remembrance, which hadn’t been officially unveiled yet.
“There was no place more fitting for the memorial tree than the one selected on the banks of the Avon near to the Bridge of Remembrance, with all the associations reminding one of those who had gone.” Mayor Flesher told the surrounding crowd.
The other young oaks were planted at Homebush and Rowallan – the latter being the farm of Douglas Deans in Darfield, just down the road from Homebush. They also still grow strong today.