Far North historian and author Kaye Dragicevich generally has a very good idea of what she's looking at when she examines old photos, and one has nagged at her for some time as being incorrectly labelled.

The only information available indicated that it portrayed an Anzac Day parade in Kaitaia in the 1910s-20s, but she had always had her doubts. Now she believes even more firmly than ever that it shows Archie Noble's funeral procession making its way through Kaitaia's main street, bound for St Saviour's Anglican Church, where he was buried.

For one thing, she said, the procession was making its way south, away from the World War I memorial, which in those days was at the north end of Commerce St.

"I have long thought it was the funeral of Archie Noble, in April 1927," Mrs Dragicevich said.


"I have since shared it with retired Colonel Graeme Wilson, and he is in agreement it is a funeral, not an Anzac service. And the photo was taken much later than 1910, as this number of buildings and cars were just not in Kaitaia then.

"The Northland Age reported, 'He (Archie Noble) was given a grand send off by the district and his soldier colleagues with full military honours, including a firing party.' In this photo an honour guard is leading the procession, carrying weapons in reversed arms position. A guard commander precedes a Model T truck with what appears to be a coffin on the back, and flowers, with three pall bearers alongside with hats in hand. Behind are marching two lines of returned soldiers, also hats in hand as a mark of respect.

"Your great uncle would be the only person I can recall who would have awarded such respect and such a procession for his funeral," she said in an email to Archie Noble's great-nephew, Kerry Noble, in Northumberland.

Archibald Coubrough Noble established a business, Nobles Drapery (which can just be seen at the right of the photo) in Kaitaia after World War I. He died on April 3, 1927, reportedly as the result of damage done to his heart by war wounds.

His story came to light last month (A corner of a foreign field, January 21), as a result of an enquiry to the Northland Age by Kerry Noble, who had discovered a 'Wilfred' (World War I Victory Medal) with the inscription '13/572 Cpl A C Noble N.Z.E.F.' He had no idea, and still does not know, how his great uncle came to serve (at Gallipoli) with the Anzac forces.

He said last week that articles published by the Northland Age about his grandfather's brother had achieved results beyond his wildest hopes.

Meanwhile there was a distinct connection between Mrs Dragicevich and the Nobles, her mother, Lynda Thompson, the daughter of Arthur and Dora Foster, having worked at the drapery prior to marrying her first husband, Andy Bennie (Happy days at Nobles, letters January 30).

However, Archie's military service records end with a charge sheet showing that he was fined for being AWOL.


"We now know, of course, that was because he had taken seriously ill from his wound whilst on leave in the UK," Kerry said.

"He was admitted to an Anzac medical facility in Kent, presumably for the Western Front casualties, before being shipped back to New Zealand for discharge as unfit. Presence at that facility probably also explains why some reports say he served on the Western Front, which would have been impossible."