Lot Archive


№ 45


19 April 1995

Hammer Price:

The New Zealand War medal to Private William Williamson, 1st Waikato Regiment, killed at Titi Hill and one of Australia’s first casualties of War
New Zealand 1845-66, reverse undated (Pr., 1st Waikato Regt.) naming engraved in the correct style for this unit, nearly extremely fine

On the morning of the 23rd October 1863 firing was heard in the direction of Bald Hills. Lieutenant D. H. Lusk, who commanded the church stockade, sent out two scouts to reconnoitre. They discovered Maoris shooting cattle in the valley between the hills. On receiving their report Lieut. Lusk sent to the river stockade for reinforcements and at the same time dispatched a mounted orderley to Drury. The river stockade was in charge of Lieut. J. S. Perceval, an impulsive and inexperienced young officer. Disobeying his orders to join the church garrison he led a party of 13 men to the right, heading for the crest of Titi Hill, hoping to take the Maoris in the rear. The Maoris came skirmishing over the hill and rapidly outflanked Perceval’s party on both sides, pinning them down in some felled timber. About this time they were joined by Lieut. T. Norman who had just returned from Drury with the men’s pay. Lieut. Lusk, observing the predicament of Lieut. Perceval, led his men in a foray up Titi Hill to join him. A desperate close-quarter battle followed, with repeated charges by about 150 Maori warriors. It was during this hand to hand fighting that the Militia casualties occurred; first Lieut. Perceval fell, then Lieut. Norman and several of the men. Falling back and clearing his right flank Lusk got his men into the cover of the bush. Retiring in good formation keeping to the cover of the forest and maintaining accurate shooting by sections, the party reached the church stockade without further casualties. The fight was broken off and the Maoris headed for the Waikato River taking their wounded with them. Their dead were estimated at 30. During all this time the mounted orderly was having trouble convincing the Imperial officers in charge at Drury of the state of affairs at Mauku. Finally they dispatched two companies of Waikato Militia who arrived at Mauku that evening - too late to be of assistance.
An early morning reconnaissance discovered the bodies of the slain Militiamen stripped and laid out in a row. They had all been tomahawked and a white haversack on a stick had been erected to mark their location.
Those killed were: Lieutenants John Perceval and Thomas Norman, Corporal M. Power, Privates W. Beysick, George O’Born, Farquhar McGillavray, and William Williamson, all of the 1st Waikato Regiment, and Private William Worthington of the Forest Rifles. Worthington was buried at Mauku but the bodies of the others were taken to Drury for burial where, in the overgrown churchyard of St. John’s, is still standing the forlorn monument to Australia’s first war dead which was erected by their comrades of the 1st Waikato Regiment. (Ref. “Australians in the Waikato War”, L. L. Barton, Sydney, 1979)
Lieut. Perceval, Corporal Power and Privates Beysick and Williamson were all natives of Bendigo, Victoria. Sold with further details including the roll of the 1st Waikato Regiment awarded the medal under the terms of N.Z.Gazette No. 63 of 1869.