--- Lest We Forget ---
By Mr Limbrick
A Remembering Story
By Mr Limbrick
Gordon in WW1
Remembering My Grandfather
By Mr Limbrick
Did you know that this Saturday is ANZAC Day? Do you know why this is such a special day in New Zealand and Australia? This year we won’t be able to celebrate in the same way that we usually do because we are in lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 virus. It will be interesting to see how people do remember.
When I think about ANZAC Day I always think about my grandfather. He first joined the army when he was 17 years old, but his father found out and went and got him out. Young men weren’t allowed to join the army and go to the war until they were 19 years old. As soon as my grandfather turned 19 he packed his bag, caught the stage coach from Martinborough in the Wairarapa, to Featherston where he signed up to join the army. After a brief period of training he and about 1000 other soldiers boarded a ship called the SS Tahiti and set sail on the 10th of July 1918, for England. This was over 100 years ago. It must have been a huge adventure for someone that young.
The journey took the ship westward past Australia and around the bottom of the African continent to a port called Freetown in Sierra Leone. Unfortunately, there was a deadly influenza outbreak in Freetown and no one was allowed to go ashore. The influenza had been brought to Freetown by another British ship and unfortunately some of the crew from the Tahiti had to go to a meeting on that ship before they got to Freetown. Pretty soon everyone on the Tahiti was really sick with influenza. Many soldiers and crew died.
My grandfather said he was really sick and was right down inside the ship in a bunk. There wasn’t any fresh air and he was incredibly hot and there wasn’t much care because so many of the crew were sick too. His luck changed though when a man who knew his family came to find him and seeing that he was so ill took him out on deck so he could be in the fresh air and he could get him food and fresh water.
Finally the ship arrived in England and he was taken to hospital to get better. Only a small number of the soldiers on the ship were well enough to go onto the war in France. My grandfather was sent to Scotland when he was well enough to be a guard at a prisoner of war camp and then when the war ended he returned to New Zealand and went to live in Hawkes Bay - his adventure over.
When he returned to NZ in 1919 he found out that the Spanish Influenza, which he had, had spread throughout the country and many people had died as they had no vaccines to protect people back then.
One thing he did remember was the man who looked after him. He lived in Hastings. Every Christmas my grandfather would slaughter a sheep and give it to him and his family. Just to let him know that he hadn’t forgotten what he had done for him.
Perhaps you could find out about one of your family members who went to a war and record their story? The stories help us remember them.
I try to teach my own grandchildren about ANZAC Day and one of the stories that I read to them is The ANZAC Puppy. It’s a lovely story and a happy ending. I hope you enjoy the story. Peter Millet, the author, gave my wife a copy of his book. This is him reading the story: The ANZAC Puppy
If you would like to find out more about the Tahiti you can follow this link: SS Tahiti
~ Lest We Forget