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Saturday, 19 April 2014 00:00

Life before the Great War

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Welcome to my second Ambassadors Blog! 

Here's the transcript:

Bonjour !

 

Il a été un mois très occupé non ? Alors, un couple des choses que j'ai faits depuis mon blog dernier ... Dimanche, je suis allée voir la production de mon école, 'the wizard of oz' c'était formidable et hier, mes bagues ont été retire après quatre ans ! Et pendant 'International Day' à mon école, j'ai vendu de la nourriture française avec mes copines pour collecter des fonds pour le voyage en juillet - c'est très passionnant, non ? Alors ! Je m'éloigne du sujet.

Imagine playing tennis against the king of England. What would you do? Would you let him win, even if you could beat him?

Meet George Patterson, who did indeed play the King of England at tennis and also happens to be my great grandfather. I hope to get to know both my grandfathers to better put myself in their shoes and to answer the question, ‘would I die for my country?’. So lets go back over 100 years ago and take a look. Who was George Patterson?

George lost his father, who was a minister, at age 14. Described by his son, he was a quiet, religious and sensitive as a boy. He was university educated and showed talent in many fields. While at doing his Bachelor of Arts degree he was a promising baritone singer, an excellent tennis player and a strong debater, which if I do say so myself, has been passed down through the family. All of these things came to an abrupt halt with the arrival of the Great War, an event that began to change George's life very rapidly.


Meanwhile, in Christchurch, a much loved mother passed away. She left behind three children and a husband, who was absolutely distraught and soon after the incident left the family for Australia, where he disappeared and was never heard from again. 2 year old Tom Parsonson - another great grandfather of mine, was the youngest of the three practically orphaned children and was brought up by his 13 year old sister along with his 4 year old brother. Here's Tom playing on a river raft with a friend in Canterbury. At just nine years old he hadn't the faintest idea of what the future and war held in store for him.

With not exactly the most traditional of upbringings, he became quite independent, working a steady job at the age of 17 and when the military enrolments started he didn't hesitate going straight into the army. Here's Tom on the left, at his house in Christchurch at 18 years of age .

At about the same time, George was finishing off his bachelors degree and just encountered a lovely young woman, and the pair soon became engaged. Just like everything else it seems, their whirlwind romance was posponed by the looming shadow of the war - could their engagement last the great war that was to come? Starting just as a distant speck on the horizon of the early 20th century, the idea of war had become more than a possibility, but instead a definite prospect. The pressure on young men to enrol for the army in New Zealand had been steadily growing, and was now quite apparent in both George and Tom’s life.

After his close friend Rewi had joined, George decided it was time for him to follow suit, and he began basic training at Trentham.

 

So here we have our two men living their separate lives, but both introspective and very independant characters, training to be killers. Neither, quite aware of what awaited them on the battlegrounds. George the quiet, tennis extraordinaire - who by the way, did let the king win their match - and the rugged and orphaned Tom, both off on their path to into the great war.

 

Join me next month when I delve into the next chapter of the Tom and George chronicles, as they leave New Zealand as little more than boys, their lives about to change forever.

 

Salut, and thanks for watching.

 

 

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