1 February 2018

Ted's Bottle

The Waihao Forks Hotel sits on the banks of the Waihao River (near Waimate). The rural salmon pink coloured tavern has an unusual war memorial - an unopened bottle of beer. The unopened bottle of Ballins XXXX green-label beer was left behind by Ted d'Auvergne in 1939 when he left for WW2.
Ted stopped at his local pub and had a beer with publican, George Provan while waiting for the train. After finishing his first bottle, he ordered another. Before he could open the bottle the train arrived. 
Ted told the publican George, "Save it until I get back".
He never got back. 
Ted was killed in action. 

This photo ( taken off the internet ), shows the large bottle of beer beside a glass of beer outside the Waihao Forks Hotel - when we visited the bottle was missing but the glass was still there.
True to his word, George kept the bottle of beer. And to this day it's still at the Waihao Hotel, unopened - just as promised.

Photo taken from internet.
Other hoteliers who've since owned the hotel have honoured George's promise. There's been interest from museums to have it as one of their displays but the unopened bottle remains at Waihao Forks Hotel as promised.

Each Anzac Day a poppy is placed beside the Ted's bottle. There are now numerous poppies surrounding the unopened beer.

Ted's bottle has caught lots of attention. Along with interested tourists some more familiar names have popped by too - one day Billy Connelly stopped in to share the bottle's story. And it's not only people driving passed in cars, an Irish businessman landed his helicopter near Waihao Hotel so he could see Ted's bottle. 

Ted d'Auvergne was 33 years old when he enlisted, and despite having a hearing loss he passed. Within two weeks he was at a camp in Burnham and three months later Ted was sent home on final leave.

After saying his goodbyes, Ted stopped in at Waihao Forks Hotel to have a beer while waiting for the train. Unbeknown to all, it was to be the last time he was seen in Waihoa Forks.

In June 1941 Ted's family and the Waihao Forks community heard that Ted was 'missing'. And a month later a message arrived saying Ted was 'missing, believed wounded'.

It would have been a long, anxious wait for Ted's family who were desperate for any news on Ted's wellbeing. Then one day in 1946 a letter came from Takovos Kalionzakis a Cretan who had found Ted, who was wounded in the fields near Maleme.
Kalionzakis took Ted to his house and cared for him, during this time a letter was written to Ted's family. Sadly two days later, Ted died from a machine gun bullet wound.
Kalionzakis buried Ted in his garden and hid Ted's papers in his house. The Cretan then tried to deliver Ted's letter to the Red Cross or to a New Zealand officer, but was caught by Germans. The letter was confiscated and Kalionzakis was sent to work in camps in Europe for the rest of the war.
In 1946 Kalionzakis was able to recover the hidden papers and wrote to Ted's family. 
Ted d'Auvergne was reburied at the Suda Bay on Crete.

R.I.P. Ted d'Auvergne


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Carron, you never know what you'll discover when you visit the little townships.

  2. Beautifully written Katrina. We have heard of Ted's bottle in the pub but are still waiting to visit it ourselves.
    Jenny and Robin, Romany Rambler

    1. Thanks Jenny. We went there to have a drink in Ted's memory but it wasn't open. Will have to stop by again next time we are passing. Did you know you can stay behind the hotel? There's a grassy paddock there for campers.


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