This reminds me of a small occurrence, that occurred in Reefton back in the mid 1950"s. Course I and my mates were only little fella’s then, well more like rascals is more appropriate. One of our favorite haunts was out at the Reefton Saddle. We had built a hut in the bush, outa small birch tree’s. All we used was a bow saw, and a pile of four inch nails. Proud of our hut we were. It was the Rascals Headquarters, where we could plan lots of expedition’s, like borrowing the old Draft Horse up the Soldiers Road, four of us climbing aboard, after putting a binding twine halter on it. Then riding it up the Globe Hill, so we could chuck rocks down the old Globe Shaft.
Anyway this was the time when the German Wasp had started invading NZ, And being of German origins, we declared war on it. One day we discovered that the Germans had managed to invade our Saddle haunts and we had located their main head quarters. It was cunningly concealed in a pile of pig fern, which being mid summer, was rather dry. A plan was made to burn them out and destroy their head quarters We had an extensive supply of Vesta Wax matches, as the snipped of heads came in handy for making various bombs and other incendiary device’s. A tennis ball had a hole drilled in it, and it was then filled with match heads, A full match served as a wick.
Sneaking up on the Germans head quarters, the device was lit, and with great skill chucked into the pig fern surrounding the nest. Boof, of she went in a ball of flame, far better than napalm. Instantly the dry pig fern burst into flame, the enemy emerged and staged a counter attack, but we were to fast for them, and scarpered to a safe distance. Where we watched with glee, as the hillside became a raging inferno. We were wiping out their entire headquarters area.
But there was a slight problem, the flames were rapidly moving towards a Pinus Radiata plantation at breakneck speed. Course that was kinda dry too. Well next minute, the inevitable happened. And bugga we had set that alight too. Time for a quick discussion as to what action to take. Scarper and say nothing, or alert the authorities. We chose to ring the fire brigade, so all ran to the nearest farm house which was about half a mile away. Mrs. Cutbush was home. And allowed us to use her phone. So we cranked the handle, and soon the operator answered. Number please, well we didn’t know the number. So just said the Saddle is on fire, the fire brigade need to come real quick. Then hung up, And all scarpered home on our bikes as fast as we could. We know nothing. Unbeknown to us, as it was a Saturday, the Reefton Forestry had a rugby team and were playing another Reefton Team. So both the Forestry Fire Brigade and most of the local brigade were all out playing ruggers. The game had to be stopped, so the firemen could attend the spontaneous fire outbreak out at the Saddle. We heard the siren go off, but no way were we biking back out to watch it all. It was lay low and say nothing. Well that didn’t work. The operator of course knew where the call came from, and it seems she recognized the voice. Which I do believe was mine. Mrs Cutbush filled the powers that be in, with more details of our little gang, and sadly we were sprung.
Our good deed, the assault on the German Invaders had turned around and bit us on the bum. To make matters worse, my Dad was the Sergeant in Charge of the Reefton Police, so we were really in hot water, especially me. I knew the old jail well, as that was also one of our playgrounds. Frig now we are all going to be jailed we thought.
But the gods smiled on us. The six of us, had to report to the boss of the Reefton Forestry at Forestry HQ, apologize and be cautioned on the errors of our ways. Phew we escaped imprisonment and other harsh penalties like the Dad’s belt.
Cheers Trev aka “The Mad Hatter”