Cyprian Brereton was born on 3 March 1876 in Wellington and moved as a baby with his family to Pokororo in the Motueka Valley in 1877, where they farmed.
Cyprian was educated at Pokororo School and attended Nelson College as a boarder on a scholarship. He had to leave school aged 14 to return to run the family farm after his father and elder brother drowned in 1890. He went on to train as a dentist but returned to farming at the Orinoco Valley in 1911.
At Nelson College he had been a cadet from 12 years old and at Westport he was in the Volunteer Artillery Forces. He went on to be an officer with the Territorial Forces in Nelson.
He volunteered on 15 August 1914 and his army service number was 6/201. He commenced at the rank of Captain. He was appointed commander of the 12th (Nelson) Company of the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment, NZEF. He sailed on the troopship Athenic.
He commanded the Nelson men guarding the Suez Canal at Serapeum on 3 February, when they repelled a Turkish attack. It was here that Private Ham fell and later died, being the first New Zealander to die in the Great War.
In the Dardanelles campaign at Gallipoli on 26 April 1915, Brereton led his men up Walker’s Ridge above Anzac Cove. The Nelson Company was to plug a gap in the line, which they held, remaining there until later relieved by the Wellington Battalion.
Brereton received a head injury on Gallipoli and was evacuated to England on 16 July. His fiancée, Margaret Guy, joined him from New Zealand and on 5 August 1915 they were married in London. They had made a pact before he left that if he went missing she was going to find him. Margaret was only 21 years old at the time. He was given two months leave.
1916 On light duties, he was in charge of repatriating invalided soldiers on the voyage back to New Zealand. He returned home to Nelson on 14 March. In April he returned to duty, in command of the 11th Reinforcements on their voyage to Egypt, then he served on the Western Front. He served in France for six months on active duty.
In January he was invalided out and served in England on light duties.
He returned to New Zealand in late October 1918 and was discharged on 31 January 1919. He continued in the armed forces for a further two years. He retired with the rank of Lieut. Colonel.
He retired from farming in 1935 owing to his war injuries and moved the family to Nelson. In 1938 he was appointed Curator of the Nelson Institute Museum, a position he held until 1960. During World War Two he was in charge of the Home Guard.
He and Margaret had four children; Hector, Terence, Margaret and Judith. Cyprian died on 18 April 1962 and is buried in the Wakapuaka Cemetery.