World War One through place names. Sturdee Peak, Main Divide.

Vice Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee, Flag Officer Commanding the 4th Battle Squadron, on board HMS HERCULES
Vice Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee, Flag Officer Commanding the 4th Battle Squadron, on board HMS Hercules

The naming of this feature proved to be a rather fraught process. In August 1919, the Survey Department tried to label it ‘Beatty Peak’ to commemorate the recent visit of HMS New Zealand. The New Zealand was an Indefatigable-Class battlecruiser whose construction had been financed by the Dominion’s Government as a gift to Britain. She had served under Admiral David Beatty’s command as part of his Battlecruiser Fleet during the largest seaborne action of the First World War at Jutland.

However, unbeknown to the Survey Department, the peak had already been climbed by Hugh Chambers and Hugh Wright who had conferred on it the name Sturdee Peak. By a remarkable coincidence, Doveton Sturdee, like Beatty, was a prominent British naval officer. He led the British forces at the 1914 Battle of the Falkland Islands, during which a German cruiser force was almost completely destroyed, and commanded the 4th Battle Squadron at Jutland. Chambers and Wright had chosen Sturdee Peak to complement the surrounding features, all of which were all named after famous ‘navigators’.

After an investigation by the Honorary Geographic Board of New Zealand, the name Sturdee Peak was assigned in 1930. The New Zealand Geographic Board then confirmed this decision in 1948.

References:

  • Honorary Geographic Board of New Zealand: Correspondence, vol. 1, pp. 65-71; vol. 7, pp. 134-146.
  • Honorary Geographic Board of New Zealand: Minutes, 1930
  • New Zealand Geographic Board: Correspondence, vol. 23, pp. 65-66.
  • New Zealand Geographic Board: Minutes, 1948 (42).
  • New Zealand Geographic Board, ‘New Zealand Gazetteer’
  • Otago Daily Times, 5 May 1915, p. 3.