Monday, 25 April 2016

Belgian Medal Queen Elisabeth finally at home

John Moore

Because of ANZAC day I think this is a beautiful story worth to tell and proof of cooperation in the real ANZAC spirit with a huge link to Belgium.

It’s the story of ANZAC Jack and his mother Mary Ann Wick.

ANZAC jack, as he was called, was serving as New Zealander with the Australian army during WWI. His real name was John Moore and he was awarded the D.C.M and mentioned twice in Sir Douglas Haig’s dispatches .
He has been in Polygon Wood and Zonnebeke/Passchendaele in September and October 1917.

His war service: 5 years (of which 4 years 228 days were abroad)
Landed at Gallipoli, 25 April 1915; wounded.
Evacuated to Malta and thence to England.
Sent back to the Suez Canal; returned to England in early 1916 and assigned to training duties with the rank of corporal.
Reverted to the ranks at his own request and posted to the Western Front.
Remained there until the armistice, November 1918, then served with the army of occupation in Belgium.

His mother Mary Ann Wick was a lady well known in the Auckland, Thames and Waihi districts and conspicuous amongst the workers in the interests of sufferers through the war. From the commencement of the war she devoted the proceeds of the garden on her property at Takapuna to the Belgian Relief Fund, and at the end of the war to the Red Cross movement.

Mrs Moore selling vegetables for the Belgian Relief Fund
In recognition of her services to the Belgian cause she was awarded the Belgian Queen Elisabeth Medal instituted by the King Albert of Belgium for conferment upon ladies throughout the world who have distinguished themselves in working for the downtrodden nation.

the citation
Unfortunately she didn’t live long enough to receive the well-deserved honour in her own hands.
Because the family has the certificate also the Medal should be somewhere , those two are always together, but they are surely not in the family anymore and maybe they never reveived this award.
Since 1994 the family is in search for the Medal and they have been in contact with the Belgian Embassy and Consulates for support in their research.

A couple of days ago, their was a newspaper article in New Zealand saying; getting the original or a replica from Belgium would be a huge emotional significance for the family

This year, 99 years after the battle of Passchendaele, a member of Mrs Wick family is here in Belgium with the military contingent who are commemorating ANZAC day in France and Belgium and are doing a pilgrimage to the different places where their forebears have given the ultimate sacrifice.

A lot of people have searched in all possible directions to find the medal, but the files are closed since 1924, the Royal Decree was in 1919. They are not making those medals anymore. The specialised shops don’t have them, the people who are collecting medals wants to keep them….

But luck was with us. With the help from some friends from the Belgian study Group for Phaleristic who were helping to search I could buy an authentic Medal on an auction and only short time ago we had what the family of Mrs Mary Ann Wick never has seen. Of course we don’t know who was the owner of this award in the first place but there is a small chance that this is Mrs Wicks’ own well deserved Medal.

It is an authentic relict from 1919 and we are very honoured to hand it over to the family of Mrs Mary Ann Wick represented by WOET Te Kani Te Wiata who’s the husband of the Great Great Granddaughter of Mrs Mary Ann Wick.

Mary Ann Wick is buried at the Waikaraka Cemetery in Onehunga, Auckland. Only 21 graves of the 32 New Zealand women who received the medal have been found and the Belgium government has a plan to pay for all 21 graves to be restored with new headstones, including a facsimile of the medal

Saturday, 23 April 2016

New Zealand Defence Force Military Contingent Pilgrimage in Passchendaele

At 's Graventafel memorial

In the lead up to ANZAC day , the NZDF military contingent was doing a battleffield tour as a pilgrimage to remember and honour their forebears who are here in Flanders since 1917. 
21 April was a moving day for all the participants with a some special moments at the memorials and gravestones. During the tour we went to the places were their ancestors were buried but also the places where they have been buried in a field grave or where they were missing or killed in action.
together listening to the stories at Tyne Cot

location field grave John Hunter
Elisabeth paying respect to John Hunter, a family member
John Hunter was one of the only 4 victims of the Maori Pioneer Battalion (MPBn) who have been killed in October 1917 in this region. John Hunter is the only one of the MPBn who is buried on Tyne Cot. We are quit sure that he and his comrades have been shelled and brought to the nearest post where they could be helped. This was at Schuler Galleries, behind Schuler Farm. Unfortunately John died soon after he was wounded and they give him a field grave in the vicinity of this stretcher bearer relay post. During our research we find out in his personal military file that he was buried on another spot than what has been recorded on the burial return sheet from the CWGC. We are quite sure that the location on the burial return sheet is the correct one.

  Another place we visited is the site where the James Gilbert and William Friar have been wounded on the same day, 12 October 1917, in the same company and very near to each other. William Frier followed the medical chain to St Jean, Ypres and then to Nine Elms in Poperinge. He was brought over to the hospital in Boulogne France, about 130 Km from Passchendaele but unfortunately he died at the General Hospital in Boulogne on November 5th 1917.
Both were wounded at Belle Vue, this shows the 3th Bn Coys of CO LtCol Winter Evans who disappeared that day. His name is on the Memorial for the Missing NZ-ers at the apse on Tyne Cot

James Gilbert was badly wounded but survived the war. Both were in D company 3Bn 3th Rifle Brigade on 12/10/1917. What we discovered very recently is that William Friar is the Grandfather of Te Kani Te Wiata, the ceremonial warrant officer of the NZDF group and James Gilbert is the Great Grandfather of Te Kani s' wife Angela.
at the Memorial for the Missing New Zealanders

praying before entering the German Cemetery in Langemark

Te Kani Te Wiata, ceremonial warrant officer of the group coming into the German Cemetery

paying respect to the German victims

Thursday, 21 April 2016

ANZAC Cousins in Arms

A Family’s Ultimate Sacrifice

  Fourteen members of one family made the ultimate sacrifice

                                                               (Eric Hansen)
As Anzac Day once again draws closer, our thoughts will increasingly turn to the contribution and sacrifice made by the many young New Zealand and Australian troops who fought in a war far overseas.

Over a four year period, 100,444 New Zealand men served overseas, out of a total population of just over one million people. Of these troops, 16,697 were killed and 41,317 were wounded during the war, and another 507 died during training. A further 1,000 men died within five years of the war ending as a result of injuries suffered. 

Australia made a similar contribution and also paid a similar cost. A total of 331,814 Australians served overseas, representing 18% of their male population. Of these, 61,859 troops were killed or died during the war.

New Zealand, as a small outpost of the British Empire, took pride in its contribution to the British war effort and the part it played in winning the war. Within New Zealand, one particular family had cause to be prouder than most. The Hansen family had the distinction of providing 42 young men to serve in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and the Australian Imperial Force.

All 42 men were the grandchildren or great grandchildren of Thomas Hansen and his sister Hannah King, New Zealand’s first permanent European settlers. They had arrived in the Bay of Islands from Australia, on board the brig Active in 1814, and lived side by side at Hohi and then Te Puna for all their married lives. Together with their 23 children, they became known as the First Family.

By 1914, Hansen family descendants had spread throughout New Zealand, and across to Australia. When Britain declared war on 4th August, the young men of the Hansen family, along with thousands of other young New Zealand and Australian men, saw it as their patriotic duty to enlist in the Army.

Like other families throughout New Zealand, the Hansen family also suffered its share of tragedy during the war. Of the 42 young men who chose to serve their country in the war, 14 made the ultimate sacrifice; a rate of one in three. This was twice the national average of one in six.

While this was a very high casualty rate for any family, one branch of the family suffered even more. Four sons of Phillip and Ella Baker, from Russell, served in the NZEF on the Western Front. Two of them, Varley and Phillip died in France; Varley was killed in action and Phillip died from disease. A third son, Theodore, died from his wounds upon being invalided home to Okaihau. Of their four sons, the Bakers lost three to the war.
Two of the 42 cousins who served in the war were decorated for bravery in the field. Ira Theodore Hansen and Herbert Nolan Flowerday were both awarded the Military Medal. 

Theo won his Military Medal during the Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917. As a linesman attached to Battalion Headquarters, he went out on numerous occasions under fire to repair telephone wires.

Herbert Flowerday won his Military Medal in March 1918. As a stretcher bearer, he went out under fire on numerous occasions into No Man’s Land to bring back wounded soldiers.

Theo’s younger brother, Bert Hansen, had the distinction of being the only Kiwi soldier to successfully escape from German captivity, not once, but twice, on the Western Front. His first escape was from a prison hospital in Belgium, and the second time was from a railway station in Liege, where he was minutes away from being transported to Germany to stand trial as a spy. He was still being sheltered by the Belgian Underground when the Armistice took effect on 11th November 1918.

Surprisingly, many of the First Family cousins fighting in the NZEF and the AIF did not know they had other relatives also serving on the Western Front. Often they only found out they were related when they were talking to other soldiers and discovered that they had the same surname or that they shared a common relative. In today’s age of instant communication, it is easy to forget that in the early 20th Century the only way to maintain contact with others was by writing letters. As a result, it was easy for people to lose contact with their extended family, especially those in distant parts of the country or in Australia.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915, followed by the Anzacs’ much longer involvement on the battlefields of France and Belgium. This has been especially evident in the increased numbers of young people participating in Anzac Day parades, or taking trips to Gallipoli and northern France. As the centenary of World War One draws closer, interest in the war is certain to increase even further.

As the young men of 1914 – 1918 have long since passed away, the main source of information for today’s generation of young people is from books and from old photos and films taken at the time. Most of these deal with the broad picture of the various campaigns during the war, and very little is available about individuals and families involved in the war.

It is this lack of information that led family historian Kath Hansen to write a book about the 42 young men of the First Family. Her interest was triggered by reading the memoir of her father in law, Bert Hansen. Originally she was only going to write about soldiers with the Hansen surname. But it quickly became apparent that they had many first and second cousins who also served in the war, both in the NZEF and the AIF.

The product of Kath Hansen’s research was the production of her book, In The Field. At the book launch in September 2012, she received the following message from Brigadier John Gray RNZIR (Ret);
 “I want to congratulate you on a very real achievement. It is the fruit of prodigious research and features considerable scholarship.
It must be unique as a family military memoire for many reasons but particularly by its scale, and its detail. I doubt that any other extended family sent 42 cousins into action, and as I have commented, the ratio of one in three dead is twice the national average. The name of Hansen (and its derivatives) is steeped in honour as a result.”

Chris Finlayson, Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage also attended the book launch, and said;
‘‘This book makes it clear just how much of an impact World War I had on the families of New Zealand, and how that conflict touched the whole of this very close-knit nation,’’

The contribution of the First Family cousins was significant for many reasons. All 42 men were descendants of Thomas Hansen or of his sister Hannah King, New Zealand’s first European settlers. In addition to several sets of brothers, they were all related as first or second cousins. Few families in New Zealand would have contributed as many men. During the war, family members in the NZEF would have often been fighting in the same battles as their cousins in the AIF, making them Anzac cousins in arms.