“Froggie” as his mates would call him, was born in Rangiora in 1906. His french ancestors arrived in Akaroa in 1856, making themselves a very successful farm, establishing a way of life for the D’Auvergne’s. In 1913, Froggie’s family moved to Waihao Forks to take up farming on the Allanholme Estate.
Farming and Froggie went very well together, and he enjoyed tinkering on the farm’s machinery and engines too. When World War II broke out 1939, Froggie had been in the Territorial for 13 years and even though farmers were considered essential to stay home and farm for the war effort, Froggie declared “I haven’t played at soliders for 13 years not to get involved when the real thing happens!”
Froggie did have his deafness to hide from the army which he did most successfully, always keeping his good ear to the doctor during his exam. Froggie’s father was dismayed at the turn of events but with great pride too, send his youngest off to war with a great party.
Froggie was very popular with all with his easy going nature and love of playing ‘the big kid’. On the 4th January, Froggie was due to catch a train to Burnham Army Camp. As he was early to the station, he purchased himself two beers from the Waihao Forks Pub which was just next door. Froggie had just made it through his first beer when he heard the train whistle. So he said to the publican to keep the second beer on the shelf for his return. The bottle was set aside as asked and even at news of Froggie’s death, the bottle remained on the shelf.
Over the years, as the pub has changed hands, the story of Froggie and his bottle of beer was passed on and respected. Today, the beer sits in a glass case with Froggie’s photo and many poppies in memory of him. It is now a memorial for all those young men who lost their lives in the War. Froggie was fatally wounded by sniper fire while crossing a vineyard in Crete. Even though he was nursed by the locals, he passed away from his wounds a few days later.
*Image courtesy of Epitaph II*