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A memorial oak tree commemorating the sacrifice of Oamaru soldier Private Ernest Hopetoun Guthrie will be felled today.

For the past eight months, the Waitaki District Council has been monitoring a crack in the Severn St tree’s trunk.

The crack was growing and, after another recent branch failure, it could present a risk to traffic and pedestrians, council communications specialist Lisa Scott said.

It will be felled today and a replacement oak tree will be planted in its place this winter.

Waitaki District Council staff had attempted to identify relatives of Pte Guthrie, who died in France in 1917.

Miss Scott said council staff were following leads but had so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to speak directly to any of his family members.

The Waitaki District Council continued to appeal for any information on the family of Pte Guthrie.

Anyone with information should contact parks officer Lindsay Hyde at lhyde@waitaki.govt.nz.

Private Ernest Guthrie

  • Private Ernest (Ernie) Hopetoun Guthrie (8/2430) was born in Palmerston on September 28, 1895, the son of Thomas Sibbald Guthrie and Annie Guthrie, nee McNeill.
  • On June 14, 1917, he was killed aged 21, in the Battle of Messines, while serving with the Otago Regiment, N.Z.E.F.
  • He is commemorated at the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial to the Missing near Nieuwkerestraat in Belgium.
  • He also served at Gallipoli.