Phil Martell was a founding member of the Passchendaele Society (PS) in New Zealand and a former PS board member & treasurer. He came to Flanders a number of times, the most recent being in 2017 with his wife Jan. While here he asked me to plant some seeds from a Hebe bush, a native flowering plant of New Zealand from his mother’s garden, in the village of Zonnebeke, if possible in the neighbourhood of the Zonnebeek and the New Zealand Memorial Garden. As former PS Treasurer he had been heavily involved in the Memorial Garden project and, what is even more important, his mother’s first name was Zonnebeke!
Alexander, Zonnebeke end Myrtle circa 1919
Unfortunately Myrtle tragically died at age 24, a victim of the 1920 Spanish flu pandemic.
Alexander and Zonnebeke circa 1921
Alexander Worsfold in his army uniform
When he found out that his younger brother Ron Worsfold had falsified his age to sign up and had left for the Western Front, he too decided to re-enlist. He did so on 19 January 1917 after just 18 months of marriage.
It is possible that they met up again in France in the last 100 days of the war but in early October the Entrenching Bn was absorbed into the Infantry Brigades. He embarked on the Ajana for New Zealand in Liverpool on 07/02/1919 and the ship arrived with 37 officers, 666 men and 24 nurses in Auckland on 26 March 1919. On return to New Zealand, Ronald became a farmer. He died on 17/08/1958.
The railway journey was via Calais, Boulogne and Abbeville to detrain east of Amiens, about half way between that town and Albert. When the first train arrived on the outskirts of Amiens, at 1am on the 25th, they could go no further as the track near the town had been destroyed by an enemy aircraft attack. With a great deal of difficulty they finally arrived at Hédauville, on the Albert-Doullens road, north-west of Albert. The two Canterbury Battalions left Hédauville at noon on the 26th. The 1st Battalion had assembled in a valley to the south-east of Mailly-Maillet.
There were no further enemy attacks for the rest of the month of March. This was no doubt in part due to the rain, which began to fall on the afternoon of the 28th and continued to the end of the month. The 1st Battalion remained in the line until the night of the 30th/31st, when it was relieved by the 2nd Otago Battalion, and went into bivouacs in Englebelmer, as battalion in reserve of the brigade.
On 12 April 1919 Alexander left Europe on board the “Pakeha”, departing from Tilbury in the UK to arrive in Wellington on 30 May 1919 together with 25 officers and 1329 men.
Auckland Cenotaph New Zealand
Archives New Zealand; Archway
The History of the Canterbury Regiment, N.Z.E.F. 1914 - 1919
The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade
New Zealand History (Ministry for Culture and Heritage)