Thursday, August 28, 2014

Corporal Ernest Ellis Islip - Maheno memorial


Ernest Ellis Islip born in 1894 in Milton, Otago was the son of Arthur and Elizabeth Islip. The family moved to Reidston Otago when Ernest was a small boy and for a time his father ran the Maheno Hotel.  At the time of enlisting on 29 May 1915, Ernest was a fireman working for the New Zealand Railways in South Dunedin (His brother Percy was a Station master and Hyde railway station, Otago).

Ernest embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 9 October 1915 and served for a time in Egypt.  Once in France he was promoted to Lance Corporal in December 1916 and he distinguished himself in January 1917 being awarded with a Military Medal Citation below:

London Gazette, 3 June 1919, p7005: For consistently good work before and during a raid on the 7 January 1917, south of Fleurbaix. For ten days prior to the raid he patrolled "No Man's Land". The information that he obtained with regard to the enemy wire, parapet, sentries and method of holding the front line was extremely valuable. During the raid he single handed rounded up ten of the enemy and with assistance succeeded in capturing them together with an additional catch of four. Strength of the raiding party 4 officers 111 o/rs.

In an entry on 3 February 1917 from the First World War diary of Brigadier-General Herbert Hart it  mentions that after attending a church parade with the 2nd Btn Rifle Brigade he (Brig-Gen Hart) presented Corporal Islip with a Military Medal "for good work in a recent raid (7th January)". 

Ernest was killed in action on 19 May 1917 at Messines, Belgium he was 23 years old and by all accounts he was a brave and popular soldier.  His military medal was finally presented posthumously to his brother Percy in January 1918.  I found an extract from a letter from Rifleman Hugh McCullough who embarked with Ernest in October 1915:

CORPORAL ISLIP  The following are a few extracts from Rifleman Hugh McCullough's letters to his mother in Christchurch from France concerning Corporal Ernie Islip, who was killed in action on May 19, and who worked with the railway service in Dunedin before enlisting:-  "Ernie is as brave a lad as you will find. He distinguished himself by leading his men through barbed wire entanglements. He won the Military Medal for bravery in January.  I cannot tell you how or where he was killed, as it is against the censorship regulations; but he died a hero it fairly broke me up to see him. His loss will be greatly felt by all in the battalion, as he was one of the best men they had. Everybody has a good word to say about him. He was very popular, and the best mate I had since leaving New Zealand."   (Hugh McCullough had also worked for the NZ Railways before the war in Dunedin, he survived the war).

Ernest is buried at La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium.  I found a touching story in the Otago Daily Times dated 10 February 2014 reporting on how descendants of Ernest Islip planted an oak tree at the Maheno Memorial grove, 95 years after others were planted in memory of the fallen.  Ernest had missed out during the original planting as his family had moved away from Maheno. The oak tree planted had been grown from an acorn taken from the original trees. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

National Ceremony - 1914 Occupation of German Samoa

National commemoration to mark the 100th anniversary of the New Zealand occupation of German Samoa. Held on the Court of Honour, The Cenotaph, Northern Façade.

When war broke out in Europe in August 1914, Britain asked New Zealand to seize the German colony of Samoa as a ‘great and urgent Imperial service’. This commemorative service recognises the duty and sacrifice of those involved, and acknowledges the close personal and political connections between Sāmoa and New Zealand today.

Friday, 29 August 2014 

4.15pm - 5.20pm


Auckland War Memorial Museum, Domain Drive,
Auckland Domain, 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

War Horse Ride: meet the soldiers paying a mounted tribute - The Telegraph

A group of British soldiers serving and retired wearing recreations of original costumes are honouring the cavalry heroes of 1914 by taking part in a 100-mile horse ride across France. Check the link out below: 

War news - 26 August 1914

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Wanganui Chronicle , Issue 20155, 26 August 1914

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Colonist, Volume LVI, Issue 13557, 26 August 1914

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 Marlborough Express, Volume XLVIII, Issue 200, 26 August 1914

Sergeant Alexander Cruickshank - Maheno Memorial


Alexander Cruickshank (known as Sandy), was the eldest son of John and Isabella Cruickshank born in Maheno in 1893.  In 1914 the family relocated to the Marlborough region.  Sandy Cruickshank was a farm labourer at Waihaorunga, Waimate in Canterbury before enlisting in February 1915 and embarking on 13 June 1915 with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion (CIB).  After surviving the Gallipoli campaign unharmed, he was twice wounded in France.  Firstly on 16 August 1916 with a gun shot wound (GSW) to the knee.  Soon back in action in Belgium at the front he distinguished himself between 1 - 4 October 1917 and was awarded the Military Medal (Citation below).    

Operations Gravenstafel - 1st October to 5th October 1917. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. The non-commissioned officer did excellent work during the fighting of October 1st - 4th. His Platoon was ordered to construct and hold a line of small posts on the night of the 2nd and 3rd of October. He gallantly led his men to their position and under heavy shellfire supervised their work, and formed a strong line in an excellent position. His work was of high importance and of great value to the defence of the position assigned to his Company. L.G. 17 December 1917, p13201, Rec No 1331.

On 12 October 1917 at Passchendaele he was wounded for the second time together with  his brother David Cruickshank (CIB).  Both were admitted to hospital in Boulogne and convalesce at Hornchurch in England. 

By May 1918 both brothers were back in France with the CIB until on 26 May 1918 when Sandy was wounded for a third time.  Sadly it was not a case of 'third time lucky' he had received several fatal GSW's and died at the No.1 NZ Field Ambulance on 26 May 1918.  Sandy had served through almost the whole war and certainly saw his fair share of action but with only months of the war left his luck ran out.   He is buried at Louvencourt Military Cemetery, Somme, France he was 24 years old.  I hope his brother David was there to see him laid him to rest and say goodbye.  

As the last few months of the war raged on David Cruickshank was reported missing in September 1918 (a worrying time for his family back in New Zealand) they finally learnt his fate after the war was over later in November 1918 when it was confirmed by the Red Cross that he had been taken prisoner of war on 30 September 1918.  He was released from capitivity on 11 December 1918.  His family must have been overwhelmed with relief. 

Sandy Cruickshank's Military Medal was presented to his mother at a ceremony in December 1919.

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Oamaru Mail, Volume XLIX, Issue 13767, 26 May 1919
Papers Past

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mapiu War Memorial Gates - King Country

On my way to Ohakune on Friday I stopped to take photo of the memorial gates at Mapiu.  They are in need of some restoration (hopefully they will get some during the centenary).  There are no names on the memorial but there is a poignant extract from a poem by war poet Rupert Brooke.

The inscription on the right post includes an extract from III The Dead by Rupert Brooke:

Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!
There's none of these so lonely and poor of old,
But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.
These laid the world away; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be
Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,
That men call age; and those who would have been,
Their sons, they gave, their immortality.
Blow, bugles, blow! They brought us, for our dearth,
Holiness, lacked so long, and Love, and Pain.
Honour has come back, as a king, to earth,
And paid his subjects with a royal wage;
And nobleness walks in our ways again;
And we have come into our heritage.

War News - 24 August 1914

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Colonist, Volume LVI, Issue 13555, 24 August 1914, Page 5 

Sergeant Alexander Ledingham - Maheno Memorial


Alexander Ledingham was born in Maheno in 1875 one of the eight children of George and Margaret Ledingham.  He was a carpenter by trade and served in the Boer War.  By the outbreak of WW1 he had married Isabella Cook of Wellington in 1907.  Keen to do his duty again he enlisted with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles on 11 January 1916 just over a year later, he was killed in action at the Battle of Rafah on 9 January 1917, aged 41 years old.  He is buried at Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.

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North Otago Times, Volume CIV, Issue 13787, 25 January 1917

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

War News - 20 August 1914

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Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XLII, Issue 6157, 20 August 1914

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Colonist, Volume LVI, Issue 13552, 20 August 1914

Monday, August 18, 2014

Family history lunchtime series - Auckland City Library

On  Wednesday, 20 August, from 12pm - 1pm,  I will be given a talk on my journey to visit 100 New Zealand  World War One  memorials to mark the Centenary as part of the Auckland City Library's family history lunchtime series.

If you have the time come along this will be the first time I have spoken publicly about my project. 

Whare Wananga
Auckland Research Centre
Level 2
Central City Library
09 307 7771

Sunday, August 17, 2014

War News - 17 August 1914

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Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume LXVI, Issue 12058

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Timaru Herald, Volume CI, Issue 15427, 17 August 1914

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Manawatu Times, Volume LXXVIII, Issue 12867, 17 August 1914

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Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLI, Issue 13461, 17 August 1914

Extracts taken from Papers Past


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Glady Coates - A woman ahead of her time

While researching the Coates brothers from the Remuera memorial in Auckland I stumbled across their sister Gladys Coates. 

Gladys was a woman ahead of her times with a strong sense of independence she seem to let nothing stand in her way.  She learnt to drive after marrying car salesman William Henning in June 1912 at Mount Eden, Auckland.  At the outbreak of WW1 she was determined to follow her two brothers and husband to the Middle East by offering her services to the authorities as a driver however, her services were rejected.  Not to be deterred Gladys raised money and paid for her own passage and sailed to Eqypt where she joined the Volunteer Sisterhood and worked as a driver operating from the Ghaza Hospital.

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 Auckland Star, Volume XLVI, Issue 280, 24 November 1915

From the Middle East she went on to England where she was taken on by the Motor Transport Section of the N.Z.E.F. in May 1917.  She rose to the lofty position of Head Lady Driver driving ambulances at Hornchurch, Walton on Thames and Brockenhurst hospitals.    In January 1919 she was discharged after she contracted influenza and in 1920 she was awarded the M.B.E.  On a sadder note her husband William Henning died of wounds in 1918 after being awarded the the Military Cross.  

Gladys also holds the honour of being the first women to become a full member of the New Zealand Returned Services Association (RSA).

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 Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume XII, Issue 3, July 1919

In  April 1920 she remarried Frederick Sandford in Sydney, Australia.  Frederick had been a Squadron Leader in the Royal Air Force but sadly the marriage ended in divorce in 1928.  In December 1925 against fierce opposition she became the first woman in New Zealand to gain a pilot's license, despite gaining her pilot's license she pursued a career as a motorist and her many pursuits were reported by the press.

Evening Post, Volume CXXIII, Issue 82, 8 April 1937, Page 19

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To find out more about her career follow the link below