Letters from Old Collegian in World War I published
Friday, 26 October 2018
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The 26th of October marks the hundredth anniversary of the death of Old Collegian John Canning Dove (Remuera, 1910-16). John greatly enjoyed his time at King's College.  He was in the choir and he was also a prefect and a librarian. John loved to write and he edited the three editions of the Collegian in 1916.  

John was a passionate writer, imploring his fellow students in his editorials to make the most of their time: ‘If you thus take an interest in the affairs of your school, King’s will become to you a second home, and in future years, you will realise the vast amount of good it has done you and you will be able to look back to your College days with pride, pleasure and gratitude.” 

John enrolled in medical school after leaving the College but he felt a great deal of guilt that, as a man of age, he had not enlisted, and he did so, leaving from Wellington on the 23rd of April, 1918.  Sadly, on the 26th of October, 1918, John Canning Dove died from wounds sustained in battle.

The Dove family generously donated John's letters and some of his personal effects to the King's College Archives and both the KCOCA and the College remain extremely grateful for this gift. These letters give an incredible insight into the life of a soldier on the front. As part of the King's College Archives Project, we have had John's letters digitised and they are now available to be read online - please visit our new Archives catalogue and search 'Dove'.

The KCOCA has committed to supporting the King's College Archives Special Project for two years.  The project entails bringing the collection online so that important artifacts  and documents, like John Canning Dove's letters, are preserved for our community.

From Volume 3 of the Collegian of 1918:

"It was with a very great shock that we learnt on Monday, November 4th, that Lance-Corporal John Canning Dove had died of wounds in France on October 26th, and to his relations, especially to his brother, Captain W.W Dove, M.C., we offer our heartfelt sympathy.  It is indeed difficult to realise that we shall see Jacky Dove no more in this world. His nature seemed just the embodiment of happiness, and he had the knack of making all around him feel the joy of living. Needless to say, he had hosts of friends. Both at School and at the University, where he was embarking on his medical career, he ever showed a splendid example of loyalty. Here we knew him as a Prefect: he wrote for the "Collegian" : he was the first to hold the Stuckey Prize for English Literature. After leaving School he still helped us with our Old Boys' Column: he was often out to see us : and he kept up his zeal for drill, having recently gained his commission in the Territorials-3rd Auckland Infantry Regiment. King's College, though the richer for his example, is none the less the poorer for his loss. He was devoted to his School and recently sent a contribution towards the new chapel; for he ever set the highest value on the ministrations of his Church, in which he found the greatest possible help. Who is going to take his place?"

To find out more about this project, and the King's College Archives, please contact the KCOCA Executive Officer.

Photograph: JC Dove (first on left in front row) with friends at Trentham Military Training Camp, 1918.