The Unfinished Drink

There’s a special bottle of beer on a shelf behind the bar at the Waihao Forks Pub in Waimate, New Zealand, and it has quite a story behind it. On the morning of Dec. 27, 1939, Pvt. Ted d’Auvergne was enjoying his last day of leave at home before shipping out during World War II. He said farewell to his family and then walked to the pub, where he met some friends for a farewell drink. He finished a bottle of beer and the bartender had just handed him a second one when Ted heard the train whistle. He gave the bottle of beer to the bartender and told him to hang onto it until he came home. In May 1941, Crete was overrun by the Germans, and troops were in the process of evacuating the island. Ted and his gun runners were fighting a rear-guard action in a local vineyard when the order came down for Ted and his men to head for the beach. When the men got there, they realized Ted wasn’t with them. A local farmer named Ykovos Kalionzakis found him wounded and cared for him, but Ted died two days later. Yakovos buried him in his vineyard to avoid detection by the Germans. He informed the authorities after the war and Ted’s body was exhumed and buried at Suda Bay War Cemetery in Crete. Since 1939, the bottle of beer still waits in a glass case, and every year on ANZAC Day — a day that commemorates Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in the war — veterans, friends and family gather to have a drink and remember Ted. In 2020, a commemorative sculpture of Ted was erected outside the Waihao Forks Hotel.