Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A "fighting family" - Whangamomona War Memorial.

A correspondent writes to the Taranaki News: Sometimes I see in your valuable paper reference to good fighting families. These references must be as balm to the parents. There is one family of five boys in New Plymouth, that I would like to mention. Then there is the Casey Boys late of Purangi. Four of them, Jim, Bert. Tom, and Will, were all wounded in France, and Joe was killed in France. Mrs Moles has also had a son-in-law invalided home from Gallipoli. I think these families of game boys deserve some praise.

Feilding Star, Volume XIII, Issue 3207, 3 April 1917, Page 2

The term 'Fighting Family' was often used in the press during WW1 to described a family with several members serving in the forces.  The family of the late Micheal Edward Casey and Sarah Moles were one such family with five sons who served in WW1.  The family originally from Oamaru had lived in the Taranaki region for a time.

Albert Leo Casey (Bert) - 12/2238
James Edward Casey (Jim) - 2/980
Thomas Raymond Casey (Tom) - 10/3854
William Bernard Casey (Will) - 24/1349
Francis Joseph Casey (Joe) - 24/74

Remembered on the Whangamomona Memorial is Francis Joseph Casey (Joe) previously a labourer in Whangamomona for H. Rawlinson and the youngest of the brothers.  Underage when he enlisted, he stated he was born in 1894 when he was most likely born in 1896/7.  He embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 9 October 1915.  He was only 20 years of age when he was killed in action on 15 September 1916 with no known grave he is remembered on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial, Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France.  

Tom and Will Casey were both wounded during the same battle on 15 September 1916 thankfully they both recovered and survived the war as too did Bert Casey who had been wounded earlier in July 1916.

Jim Casey was the first of the brothers to enlist and embarked with the 2nd Reinforcements on 14 December 1914.  However he was invalided back to New Zealand in May 1915 with Sciatica and discharged in September 1915 at Trentham.   In October 1915 he attempted to re-enlist, however he failed to mention that he had already served.  When it was discovered that he had made an incorrect statement he faced a court-martial in May 1916.   In his defence he stated that "I did this with the intention of getting back to the front".  I found nothing on his military record which revealed whether he was convicted or not.  I find it incredulous that he should have been reprimanded in such a way when his only thought was to get back to the Front and most likely his brothers.  He never returned to the Front as far as I can tell.  

Tragically on 11 May 1917 Jim Casey was killed in Rotorua as a result of electrocution while working.   He was buried in Rotorua with full military honours something I am sure he would have wanted. 

Information gathered from Papers Past, NZ Archives, Auckland Museum Cenotaph Database.

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