Freda the Great Dane
Freda, the Harlequin Great Dane was a beloved mascot of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade based at Brocton Camp during the First World War. She was very busy representing the unit at numerous functions and fund raising events. She also visited local hospitals to raise the spirits of the wounded troops. She sadly died before the Brigade returned home in 1919 and was laid to rest close to the Battalion Lines she loved to frequent. The original wooden cross soon perished and at least four others have graced her grave. The last but one was sent to the Regiment’s Museum in New Zealand and was well received.
The report of her death in a local paper shows how well she was received in the community and reads as follows:
“As the mascot of the regiment she carried out her office with all due dignity. Freda was a past master on Battalion drill and guard mounting, and no ceremonial parade which did not meet her approval was ever worth the name. But Freda is no more. A cruel disease cut short her career on the fourteenth day of December 1918, a sad link in the story of the NZRB at Brocton. Never more will her lean, lank form grace the parade ground or saluting-base or adorn the portals of her master’s sanctum. A little green mound and a humble monument on the Stafford hills shall henceforth proclaim the earthly virtues of Freda.”
Her photograph would have been a treasured souvenir of the nicer parts of the brigade’s time in Brocton.