Topic: Militiaz - New Zealand
And the cautionary tale
The problem with a time of crisis as occurs with war is the forcing up of social temperature. Things that take a leisurely pace now become urgent. Social change and attitudes were put into sharp relief as a consequence of many young men gathered together in a circumstance that enhances a socially sanctioned desirability from the single women. One of the natural consequences is a breakdown in the social sanctions that, under ordinary circumstances, existed. There became a greater urgency on behalf of both genders to remove the time of propriety and engage in sexual behaviour in a compressed period of time.
The knock on effects of this social breakdown also tore at other institutions. One was the necessity for greater numbers of abortions which led to a greater number of women dying as a consequence of these back yard abortions.
The particular story here may have come from New Zealand but is not unique to either New Zealand or Australia. The penalties were clear cut. This article was first published in the Melbourne Truth, 31 March 1917 at page 3.
A SCALAWAG SOLDIER.
BLACKGUARDLY TREATMENT OF A TRUSTING GIRL.
Aftermath of Abortion Case.
Just before the last New Zealand mail left, Mr. Justice Edwards had before him in the Wanganui Supreme Court, for sentence, Richard Patrick Pollard, 23, who, after three trials-two juries disagreeing - had been found guilty of the illegal use of an instrument to procure abortion.
Counsel for the defence suggested that the accused should be allowed to go to the war, but his Honor rejected the proposal with wrathful score. In the course of his judgment, he said;"In 1915 Edna Hogg was employed by a firm of dentists at Hawera, and in that year you were a sergeant-major in the Defence. Office there. It was apparently a case of theGLAMOR OF THE UNIFORMon the feminine mind. Unfortunately, she was living far from her parents. Under those circumstances you were able to make her acquaintance early in December, 1915, but must have rapidly proceeded to something more than were acquaintance. You were sent to Taumarunui, and at the latter end of February, according to evidence, you received, while there, letters from her informing you that as a result of improper intimacy, she was pregnant. You stated that you did not answer them. Yet, on March 10, she saw you and asked you to marry her, and you refused. You allege that you had quarrelled on the grounds of her behavior with returned soldiers and commerial travellers."Of course, it is very difficult when a man and woman go wrong to apportion the offence; but there has been sufficient evidence before the court and jury to apportion the offence between you and Edna Hogg. The girl hadAN INNOCENT AFFECTION FOR YOU.
The tales of your affection is best shown by the letter you received from your friend Farrell while you were in Taumanmui, and which you carefully preserved. Your confidant announced his intentions with regard to deceased after her chastity bad been taken from her by you. The letter was so coarse and vile that no newspaper would dare to put in into print. No man possessed with the smallest affection for a girl could but resent that letter. Plainly, your only wish was to gratify your lust. She fell. She is dead. You stand there and endeavor to blacken the character of an unfortunate girl why now lies in her grave."You stand before the court a plainly unrepentant criminal, guilty of a crime for which the extreme penalty is hard labor for life. We are told that you should be allowed to go away and fight for your country. I am not one of these who think that legions composed of criminals should be sent to fight the enemy. Germans have formed regiments of them, but I hope that New Zealand we will not have to do so. I gravely doubt that you would be a fit associate for young men. My position is not to set prisoners at large to fight for their country, but to deal with them according to the law."
After which common sense remarks, his Honor sentenced the blackguard to seven years' imprisonment with hard labour.
Post Script: Richard Patrick Pollard died at Takapuna, 1965. He never served his country. After the completion of his prison sentence, he found work as a labourer. One wonders if he ever reflected over the untimely death of Edna Hogg as he grew older. Like most people, these episodes return to haunt like Banquo's Ghost, always there and never disappearing regardless of the activity or liquor. A sad tale that built up a pressure for the emancipation that is enjoyed today.
Citation: A cautionary tale