Corporal Edward Angel was the youngest of three brothers who together embarked on 14 February 1915 aboard the 'Warrimoo' as part of the 1st Maori Contingent. According to newspaper reports Edward was only 15 years old or thereabouts when he enlisted. In James Cowans' book 'Maori in the Great War' Cowan tells us how:
"...it was the custom of the Maori to enter the firing line in the early teens. Many a man of the old generation went on his first war trail at the age of twelve."
How old Edward actually was is open to debate, I could not find any official entry of his birth and on his Commonwealth Grave Commission record it states he was 19 years old when he died of his wounds in December 1917. Before embarking Richard the eldest of the three brothers would most likely have promised his parents William and Mary Angel, that he would watch out for his younger brothers.
The Maori contingent was not at the initial landing at Gallipoli in April 1915, instead they were camped in Malta awaiting orders. Finally after a frustrating wait and watching troops come and go from the Gallipoli Pennisula the contingent left for Gallipoli in June 1915.
On 6 August 1915 at the Battle of Sari Bair, William was wounded and subsequently medically evacuated back to Malta and from there to England. In February 1916, he returned to New Zealand minus a finger and with a bullet wound to the leg. He was medically discharged on 10 May 1916. In his service record I found evidence that he attempted to re-enlist at the beginning of June of the same year, however I could find no evidence that he was accepted.
The Angel brothers may well have been together when Richard led a section out to clear barbed wire entanglements from Chailak Dere, before the main attack on 6 August 1915. When the battle was over Richard was promoted to Corporal and awarded the Military Medal for bravery as a result of his actions, his citation reads:
'Bravery in attack on Turkish trenches on Bauchop's Hill and removing wire entanglements in Chailak Dere, Gallipoli, on August 6th. Led his section with the utmost dash.'
After the evacuation of Gallipoli Edward and Richard embarked for France at the beginning of April 1916. In July 1916 Edward was admitted to hospital suffering from debility, today debility would be known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Edward was at the most only 17/18 years of age and had been exposed to all the horrors of war while still a boy, witnessing more death than life. This must have had a profound negative effect on his physical and mental health. Yet less than a month after hospitalisation he was back at the front until he contracted mumps in May 1917. After recovering he returned to the front again and spent a short spell at the casualty clearing station with influenza, before going on leave on 18 July 1917.
Edward returned from leave at the end of July and was promoted to Lance Corporal on 8 December 1917. Shortly after his third Christmas as a soldier away from his home and family in New Zealand he was fatally wounded on 28 December 1917. He was buried at Ramparts Cemetery. Lille Gate, Ieper, Belgium.
Richard survived the war and when the armistice was announced on 11 November 1918, he was on leave in Paris. Despite the celebrations followed his thoughts would most likely have been of is younger brother Edward. Richard returned to New Zealand in February 1919.
New Zealand Herald, Volume LV, Issue 16760, 29 January 1918, Page 5