Friday, 9 October 2009

Three generations of Zonnebeke's

Alexander Worsfold was the Grandfather of Phil Martell from Auckland.
He was a soldier in the Great War and he came to Flanders from 1917 till 1918.
He was in Zonnebeke when his daughter was born and he asked his wife Myrtle to give her the name...Zonnebeke. Unfortunateley Myrtle tragically died at age 24 during an influenza epidemic.

Alexander Worsfold in his army uniform

Alexander, Zonnebeke end Myrtle circa 1919

He enlisted in the Army in August 1914 (aged 23) at the outbreak of the war and joined the First NZ Expeditionary Forces to Samoa. His military number is 1/429. He was overseas until 15th April 1915 and was discharged after he came home.

In 1915 he married Myrtle Alabaster and it would also appear that she had just become pregnant when he rejoined and left for France via the UK on 9th June 1917. It is more than likely that he was unaware that she was expecting their first child and may have remained so until he found out eventually that she had been born.

As Myrtle died so early, Phil's mother was an only child. She married Reg Martell, Phil's Dad, in 1938 and had four children Vicki, Glenys, Phil(ip) and Christine. Phil gave his second daughter Lauren the middle name Zonn as this was what his mother’s name was often shortened to (or Zonnie) and then in the next generation there are two of Zonnies great grandchildren who have her name or a derivation as a second name too. So that connection carries on. Many members of the family, including his mother, have visited the town over the years and it has become somewhat of a family pilgrimage.

They are all immensely proud, as Zonnebeke was, to have this connection and in particular to know that it grew out of those terrible times when great sacrifices were made by so many. They were the lucky ones – Alexander came home from the killing fields in Flanders.

‘Three generations of Zonnebekes’ was taken just a few years ago before Zonnebeke’s death, in 2007. Around Zonnebeke Myrtle Martell (nee Worsfold) are from left to right, Phil's Daughter Lauren Zonn Meyers (nee Martell), her daughter Holly Zonnebeke Myers and Phoebe Zonne Videbeck granddaughter of Phil's sister Glenys Power and daughter of Kelley.

Alexander was a tailor and spent all his life in that trade, finishing up as manager for a large men’s suit manufacturer. He was from a large family who were settled in a small rural town of Feilding in the lower North Island of New Zealand. His parents emigrated from Horsham in the UK to New Zealand in 1874. Their home in Feilding was quite grand and set in magnificent gardens and so too was the neighbouring home owned by his Uncle. Alexander himself grew up with a great love of gardening. He also played the trumpet and there is evidence of his belonging to the military bands in both Samoa and Belgium. He was also involved in the Lodge and rose to the position of Grand Master in Wellington where he lived after leaving Feilding.

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