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SA2456 / 7423 Corporal George Valentine Corlet -  5th / 9th Contingents, NZ Mounted Rifles.
 
George Valentine Corlet, born in 1876, was one of ten children to Edmund George Murray and Mary Corlet. The Corlet family were living in Johnsonville when in 1883 E G M Corlet issued notices in the Evening Post regarding straying stock
and fencing[i]. The area that the Corlet family were farming was part of the Porirua Riding of the Hutt County Council with Edmund G M Corlet standing for a position in 1893.[ii]
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On the 28th March 1900 George signed his enlistment papers to join the 13th Company of the 5th Contingent of New Zealand Mounted troops to be dispatched to South Africa. George was drafted from Marlborough and while he listed his address as Johnsonville he also listed that he was employed as a butcher by Mr William Dalziel of Blenheim. The 13th Company, as part of the Contingent,  departed from Wellington on the 31st March 1900. It was while the Contingent was seven days out from Wellington and close to Australia that a empty bottle with a note was thrown overboard from the SS Waitemata. The bottle with its note washed up on the shore near Melbourne and its discovery was reported by the Marlborough Express on the 20th July 1900.[iii]
 
          ‘  The  Port  Fairy  Gazette  of  September 11th says:
          A corked bottle was recently found by Mr W Mahony
          on the beach near Killarney, which on being opened
          was found to contain a paper, closed up in an envel-
          ope,  purporting  to  be  a ‘ message  from the sea.’
          whether  the  document is  genuine  or  not  we are
          not we are unable to say, but we give  the contents
          for what they are worth.  Across the top is  written
          the  name, ‘ J  Vocasivion,  Esq.,’ and  under it are
          the  following  :-   Trooopers   E.  Casey,  G  Corlet,
          W. Western, and J Watson, with the words, ‘  Fifth,
          Contingent, April 6, 1900. Publish if ever found,
          New Zealand.’. . . . .
          The  names mentioned are those of four  Blenheim
          boys.
.
 
All five men survived their time in South Africa returning to New Zealand in June 1901. From George Corlet’s military records, it notes that he served in South Africa and had the rank of Gunner.[iv] George was given two months leave and was then discharged from the Mounted Rifles.
 
On 27th February 1902 George Valentine Corlet re-enlisted in the Mounted Rifles in the North Island Regiment, 9th Contingent, New Zealand Mounted Rifles. Again George’s enlistment papers listed his address as care of his father in Johnsonville but his employer as Mr Dalziel of Blenheim.
 
SA7423 Corporal Corlet sailed with the North Island Regiment from Auckland on the 20th March 1902. The 9th Contingent saw limited actions as peace was signed on the 31st May 1902. However one of their contingent, Lieutentant Robert McKeich, had the misfortune of being the last New Zealander killed in combat when he was shot in a confrontation with three Boers four days after the official surrender.[v]
 
Corporal Corlet returned to New Zealand and was discharged ‘on completion of service’ on the 20th October 1902.[vi] While George’s intended residence was indicated as Johnsonville by 1907 he was living in Cobden Road, Carterton from where he enquired to the NZ Defence Force about his entitlement for medals.[vii] For his services in South Africa he was entitled to the Queens South Africa medal with clasps; South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902, Transvaal, Orange Free State and Rhodesia.
 
George Valentine Corlet married Annie Patricia Hurley in 1910 and the couple had, at least, one son and one daughter.
George Valentine Corlet died in 1966 aged 89. 
 
Notes:
Message from the sea men all members of 13th Company, 5th Contingent
                SA 2527 Trooper J Vocasivich  (correct spelling)
                SA 2454 Trooper E Casey
                SA 2456 Trooper G Corlet
                SA 2530 Trooper W Western
                SA 2532 Trooper J Watson
 
References:
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: SA7423 Corporal George Valentine Corlet
Papers Past Online
NZ Units in South Africa 1899 – 1902: NZ History online
 
 
[i] Notices (5th December 1883) Evening Post
[ii] Notices (21st October 1893) Evening Post
[iii] Message from the Sea (20th July 1900) Marlborough Express
[iv] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: SA2456 Corporal George Valentine Corlet
[v] 9th Contingent - NZ Units in South Africa 1899 – 1902: NZ History online
[vi] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: SA2456 Corporal George Valentine Corlet
[vii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: SA2456 Corporal George Valentine Corlet
 
  
Sergeant -  5th Contingent NZMT on the Veldt