Statue immortalises soldier

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A Waimate soldier who did not return home from World War 2 has been immortalised in bronze.

The sculpture in honour of Ted d’Auvergne, created by former Oamaru artist Donald Paterson, was installed outside the Waihao Forks Hotel last weekend.

The story of Pte d’Auvergne, the Waihao Downs farmer who went off to World War 2 and never returned, is well known nationally and internationally.

On January 5, 1940, Waihao Forks Hotel publican George Provan invited him to have a farewell drink before departing for overseas service and when the train whistled, Mr Provan put an unopened bottle of beer on the shelf, saying you come home again

Pte d’Auvergne was killed in action 18 months later and lies buried in a Crete cemetery, his name added to the long roll of honour of those who died in the service of their country.

The bottle has remained behind the bar ever since, as a poignant reminder of those who did not return home.

The installation of the statue followed an 18-month fundraising drive, with grants and community fundraising totalling $45,000.

Originally set to be unveiled to the on Anzac Day 2020, an official event has now been scheduled for August 15.

Waihao Forks Hotel publican Sandy Doolan said there was still landscaping work to do before then, but she was very happy with how the statue looked.

“It’s bloody good, [Mr Paterson] did a really good job,” Mrs Doolan said.

“It’s a good effort all around.”

Members of the Patriots Defence Force Motorcycle Club, local schoolchildren, and relatives of Pte d’Auvergne would be among those attending the August event, Mrs Doolan said.