Friday, July 27, 2012

Sister Mabel Helen Whishaw - Featherston Memorial

Sister Mabel Helen Whishaw was the daughter of John Henley Whishaw and Catherine Elizabeth Whishaw of Stoneridge, Featherston.   A qualified nurse before war broke passing her staff nurse examinations in 1909 and for a time working as a midwive at St Helen's Hospital in Auckland.  In February 1916 she reported for duty at Featherston Hospital and was promoted to Sister in May 1918.

Mabel had two brothers who volunteered for duty early in the war Harry Guthrie Whishaw and Bernard Guthrie Whishaw.  Harry was killed in action on 3 July 1916 at the Somme and Bernard died of malarial pneumonia on 17 October 1918 in the Middle East.  I imagine that both her brothers were at the forefront of her mind while she cared for the soldiers who returned from the war to Featherston Hospital.   For their parents it must have been heartbreaking.  Sadly more heartbreak followed when Mabel succumbed to the influenza epidemic on 10 November 1918 (one day before armistice) she likely contracted the disease from the very patients she cared for.  She was given a full military funeral (see link below).

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As a post script to Mabel's story she was also immortalised on a plaque in memory of nurses who served during WW1 erected at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in Euston Road, London in 1938.  Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was the first English woman to become a medical practitioner. The hospital opened in the 1870's to allow poorer women access to medical care and was renamed the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in 1918 after her death.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gunner Ellis Alexander Parr - Featherston Memorial

Ellis Parr was born in the Wairarapa the eldest son of Thomas and Annie Parr.  At the time of enlistment he was working as a railway clerk in Newmarket, Auckland.  He embarked with the Auckland Mounted Rifles as part of the 4th reinforcements on 8 January 1916.  Ellis Parr had a busy war he was wounded twice and was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field.  His citation from the London Gazette is below:

London Gazette, 16 August 1917, p8430, Rec No 841: At Messines on 7th June 1917. During the operations on the Messines Ridge this man was a member of F.O.O.'s party. They laid, and for hours endeavoured to maintain communications under very heavy shellfire. For a period of twentyfour hours they were continually working on the wire, repairing breaks until communication was finally established. On the 29th June, volunteers for a similar task were called for - this man volunteered and was again included. When one of his party was wounded Gunner Parr, assisted by three others, carried him under heavy fire to a dressing station. His coolness and gallant conduct during the whole period was a splendid example to the other men.

On 30 October 1917 his luck ran out and he was killed in action at Ypres aged 26 years.  He is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium. 

Private Ellis Alexander PARR, who was recently reported wounded, is a member of a family which is doing its share in the war. His home is at Petone, Wellington, and he has two brother, Rupert and Mark PARR, in the fighting lines, while his father is a member of the garrison at Samoa. All the male members of their household are in khaki. Ellis Parr is well known in rowing and football circles in Auckland, where he was a clerk in the loco department of the railway service at the time of his enlistment. [AWN 12.04.1917] 

The extract above taken from the Auckland Weekly News once again demonstrates the contribution and sacrifice New Zealand families made to the war effort.

Ellis's father and two brothers survived the war.  The words below were added to a memorial notice printed in the Evening Post by Ellis Parr's siblings, they are adapted from a poem written by an 11th century Persian philospher Omar Khayyam. 

Lo! Some we loved , the noblest and the best
Have one by one crept silently to rest

Trooper William Alfred Ottaway - Featherston Memorial


William Ottaway was the son of William and Kate Ottaway of Fernside Farm, Featherston.  The family had moved from Sussex, England in 1910.  Before enlisting in November 1915 at age 20 years William had been an Apiarist (Beekeeper) on the farm.  William embarked with the Wellington Mounted Rifles on 29 February 1916 he was killed in action on 9 January 1917 in the Canal Zone during the attack on a large Ottoman garrison at Rafa, on the Sinai–Palestine border.   He is buried at the Kantara War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt.

William's brother Ernest also served during WW1 and thankfully survived.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Featherston Memorial

Featherston Memorial was unveiled on the 25th April 1927 by the Hon. Sir James Allen G.C.M.G, K.C.B. who had been Minister of Defence during WW1.

The memorial was made possible with funds raised by the Wairarapa Anzac Club. The Wairarapa Anzac Club was set up by the residents of Featherston as a place where soldiers could go to be entertained away from the Featherston army camp, the largest in New Zealand during WW1.

The club's building was unveiled in 1916 by Sir James Allen and today is a historically protected building.

Those who lost their lives in WW2 are also recorded on the memorial.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I haven't given up....

Once again everyday life is getting in the way of my research. I have not given up just having a hiatus. Hopefully I will be back on board sooner rather than later.