Nelson Provincial Museum's Lucinda Blackley-Jimson, left, stands with Lt Col Cyprian Brereton’s granddaughter Annie Coster and his military uniform. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

Iconic WW1 uniform brought home

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A single Twitter post has reunited Ruby Bay’s Annie Coster with her grandfather’s military uniform.

Lt Col Cyprian Brereton, or Cyp as Annie calls him, was a famous World War One commander who survived being shot in the head in Gallipoli, as well as being the Nelson Provincial Museum’s first professional curator. But to Annie, he was just Granddad.

Lt Col Cyprian Brereton’s never-before-seen Gallipoli Medallion.
Lt Col Cyprian Brereton’s never-before-seen Gallipoli Medallion.

“He was a very eccentric and unassuming sort of bloke, when he wasn’t dressed to the nines or in his military uniform he would look like nothing on this earth, he’d wear a tea cosy on his head, and go to church in slippers.”

Cyp’s military dress uniform came up for sale from a private owner a few months ago, but it wasn’t until a member of the public tweeted the news to the Nelson Provincial Museum that the family, or museum, knew it existed.

The dark green and gold jacket, breeches and cap, believed to have been Cyp’s Nelson Rifles Volunteer uniform, was purchased by the museum, which is working to preserve it.
Annie, who saw the dress uniform for the first time yesterday, says she was delighted with the discovery.

“I didn’t even know it existed, I was astounded when they told me, I got a sent a photograph of it and showed it to all the family, but this is the first time I’ve seen it.

“For a 100-year-old uniform, it’s in such amazing nick, I wish my clothes lasted that long. It could even be what he wore to the regimental ball where the assassination of the German Kaiser was announced and war became imminent.”

Cyp is known for his war contribution but many don’t know that after he was shot in the head his fiancée, 21-year-old Daisy Guy, crossed oceans to find him.

Apart from visiting Cyp in a couple of army camps, Daisy had never travelled outside of Nelson. However, the young Ngatimoti girl cashed in her inheritance and set off on a 42-day journey through war-torn countries and life-threatening situations to find Cyp in a London hospital.

Cyp took 48 hours leave from the hospital to get married and, when he was well enough, the couple travelled back to Nelson.

He was then sent back to war, injured and sent home a further two times, and was crossing the Cook Straight for a fourth service when the war ended.

Nelson Provincial Museum CEO Lucinda Blackley-Jimson says it is great to see the uniform back in Nelson and is looking forward to exhibiting it.

“Not only is Brereton an important figure in Nelson’s World War One history, he is also very significant to the museum.

“We are very proud to add Cyp’s Nelson Rifles Volunteer uniform to the Museum’s treasures, a collection which he helped shape. We couldn’t be more delighted to bring it back home.”