While uncovering the story of my great grandfather, I became fascinated with the detail of the various war records - whether they be the enlistment forms or the day-to-day journals written from the field. Here are some interesting bits and pieces I came across on my travels...
The cover photo shows my great grandfather's original attestation for general service when he would have signed up to go over to Samoa within the first few days of war breaking out. This is the second form he would have filled out before he was sent off to Europe. It was interesting reading the discharge forms too. They stated that either a bullet or shrapenel had passed through his lower back and lodged in his abdomen. One doctor's note even had a crude diagram of a type of corslet designed to be worn to "hold everything together"!
This is a field map similar to the one the officers on the ground would have used. Officers would have been told to advance from "I9" to "D25", for example. The green highlighting indicates the approxaimte path "Chun" and the Auckland Company would have taken from the billets at Le Grand Pont to Solesmes between the 18th and 24th of October. My grand uncle was able to trace the exact place where Chun was brought down by enemy fire, a machine gun nest perched in a small burrow along a track along a French field on the eastern outskirts of Solesmes; it is likely given the nature of a machine gunner that he was either alone or perhaps with one or two other people a the time. This place is the furtherst point to the right of the ma to be highlighted.
And here's a digitized version which was easy to create on Google Earth! The path tool was useful at indicating distances, and revealed that they might have travelled around ten kilometers per day.
I also found it interesting that there was someone whose job it was to sit in the trenches and write up a daily report on a typewriter. During the night, soldiers would be sent out to collect the dogtags of their fallen comrades, and the "type writer" (name for the person, as well as the physical machine) as they were known would type up the names and the place where they had fallen, presumably to be eventually communciated with the families, as well as for official records; the fact that we have my great grandfather's dogtags could be used as a euphemism to say he returned from war. Also shown are his original miniature medals, which I intend to wear at some of the official commemorative events, including the commemoration of the Somme, on the 15th of September. Also visible is a hat/uniform badge, propped up by a piece of shrapenel from the First World War (although not the piece that went through him!).
Enfin, voilà a few bits and pieces to go along with Chun's Story, which I published a few days ago. Yesterday, I also had the pleasure of meeting Mr and Mrs Cooper of the Remuera Heritage Trust. I am looking forward to working with them on this project, and I hope to be able to take some pictures of and pay our respects to some of the graves of the fallen from Remuera and its surrounds, as well as hopefully making some simple paper wreathes with the boys at Dilworth which might be used to adorn some of the graves/commemorative sites. Upon returning, I have been invited to give a presentation at one of their get-togethers with their members at the Remuera Library, sharing my journey, experiences, reflections and photos! This is likely to coincide with the Auckland Heritage Festival but details to follow! Finally, for anyone looking to do their own research, Mr and Mrs Cooper introduced me to the Auckland War Memorial Museum Centopath database, and it's amazing! It had a lot about my great grandfather including a few facts which I didn't know nor did I learn, including the ships he sailed on, his squadron assignments etc. It also had quite a lot on the Dilworth Old Boys who fought and lost their lives in the First World War, their stories I hope to research, time permitting. Anyway, that's more than enough for me. Only ten sleeps to go!
Read 870 times Last modified on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 21:39