Monday, November 25, 2013

Wattam Brothers - Newmarket Memorial

On 19 August 1916 Robert and Florence Wattam of Remuera, Auckland were most likely on the dockside at Wellington to farewell their three sons Horace, John and Robert who were embarking with the 10th Reinforcements aboard the 'Aparima' headed for Devonport, England and the war in Europe.   A month earlier the brothers had been treated to a "Monster Farewell" from the Onehunga People's Mission. 

11 a.m. Grey Street Hall: 2.45 p.m., Sunday-School Hall. 7 p.m.
Monster Farewell Service to Troopers Wattam, Brothers and Comrades. Our Message to Our Boys. W.S.Q.B,' Bright. Hearty Singing, Large Choir. Men in khaki welcome. 
Come and bring your friends. Missioner Rev. Stephen J. Campbell.

The eldest of the brothers Robert Ernest had enlisted at the beginning of the war and served with the Railway Engineers as part of the Samoan Advance Party which embarked for Samoa on 15 August 1914  (My husband's great grandfather Reginald Langdale Evatt was also part of the Samoan Advance Party).  On returning to New Zealand he joined the New Zealand Rifle Brigade with his brothers.  Robert's military record has not yet been digitalised so I have been unable uncover any further information about his service.  He survived the war returning to New Zealand, he passed away in 1973.

John Henry (known as Jack) enlisted with his brother Horace on 2 May 1916.  Jack was wounded and gassed on 19 August 1917 suffering a gun shot wound to the head.  Sent to England to recover he returned to the front and saw out the war only to contract influenza in days after the armistice had been called in November 1918.  Again he was sent to England convalesced rejoining his unit in December 1918 and then finally returning to New Zealand in July 1919.  Jack died in 1941 while another world war raged on in Europe, he was only 48 years old.

Horace Howard Wattam was the youngest of the three brothers to enlist.  After a couple of months in Sling Camp Horace was posted to the Machine Gun Corp and sent to Grantham in the North of England for training. He finally embarked for France on 9 February 1917 sadly his time at the front was short lived and he was killed in action on 7 June 1917 only 21 years old.  Horace is commemorated on a family grave at Hillsborough Cemetery where his mother, father and brother Jack are laid to rest.