Thank you to everyone who has helped out with fundraising, especially the Whakatane West Rotary and Harvey Norman Whakatane.
My project is based on a few of the soldiers from the Whakatane area and also sharing some information about the pioneer battalion at the Somme. Thank you to the Whakatane research centre, Sonia Edwards and Sarndra Lees from Auckland war memorial museum for assisting me with finding information.
However In this post i’m going to share the story of a family friend’s father who signed up with the Wellington Infantry Battalion at age 15. It was likely that the authorities knew that Sydney George Stanfield from Dannevirke was underage for service overseas but they allowed him to sail to war in 1916 anyway, apparently this wasn’t uncommon.
Three years later the lance corporal had fought in the Battle of Messines, the Battle of Passchendaele and the Battle of the Somme.
But Stanfield returned home and described when he was a stretcher bearer at Passchendaele October 1917, “Well there were hundreds of men laying out, around. You couldn’t get them inside”
“there couldn’t be a stretcher for every stretcher case. We just carried till you couldn’t carry more. You just went until you couldn’t walk really, you just went until you couldn’t walk”.
“I felt that the war was never going to end. It was going to go on forever. I felt that I would never see the end of the war, that it was not possible. I felt it was not possible that I would survive the war … I can remember feeling at times that I’d be quite happy to engage in any sort of slavery at all if I could be taken away from this, what, misery. Misery…”-Sydney George Stanfield
There are many extraordinary accounts like Stanfield's and through my research project, I hope to broaden both my own and others' understanding on what happened 100 years ago to those people, who may have had different beginnings, but between 1914 and 1916 ended up in very similar places.
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Last modified on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 13:12