Help needed: do you recognise these WWII servicemen?

 

The Auckland Museum has just digitized and released a whole bunch of photographs taken during WWII by a local photographer, Tudor Collins. They all show American servicemen posted to the small town of Warkworth, New Zealand, prior to their deployment in the Pacific.

These are wonderful portraits of young men enjoying a few weeks of rest and Kiwi hospitality before being hurled into prolonged and ferocious fighting from which many did not return.

None of the photos were captioned, so the identity of the soldiers is unknown. The Museum has loaded them onto its website and is asking anyone whose relatives served in the Pacific, and who spent (or might have spent) time in New Zealand, to help identify these men.

I know a number of people who read this blog have family who served in WWII, and it would be great if you could visit the website to look at these images. There are a lot of them; but who knows, maybe one of those smiling young men belongs to your family, and you can bring their memory home for Christmas.

Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me te Tau Hou

– Season’s greetings for Christmas and the New Year

 

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Six word Saturday: ANZAC Day remembrance, families at war

Snapshot of war: amongst the family photos, a few of those who served in the military and a letter from George VI to the children of Great Britain.

Snapshot of war: amongst the family photos, a few of those who served in the military and a letter from George VI to the children of Great Britain.

As the boy-child becomes a man, I find myself reflecting on the suffering of my grandmothers and great grandmothers whose sons went off to war. My family seems to have been particularly blessed in that all but one of our men who served in World War I or II returned. My great grandfather was wounded in WWI, and lost a leg, but lived until 1970, raising five children and celebrating over 60 years of marriage to my great grandmother.

The Big T’s great grandmother was less fortunate. Both her sons joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in WWI, but only one- the Big T’s grandfather Wallace Gray – returned, wounded and weakened by illness. His younger brother Eric Gray was killed in March 1918 in the third battle of the Somme. Like so many Kiwis, he is buried thousands of miles from home in a Commonwealth War Cemetery, at Martinsart in the Somme Valley.

Yesterday, my friend Alix sent me this, the words of a speech delivered in 1934 by Kemal Atatürk, first President of the Republic of Turkey, to the families of British, Australian and New Zealand troops who visited the battlefields of Galipolli:

Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well.

These words are also inscribed on the memorial to fallen soldiers at ANZAC Beach in Galipolli, and also on memorials in Canberra, Australia and Wellington, NZ.

Today I’m thinking of all the mothers who have ever waved sons off to war  and waited in almost unbearable anxiety for them to return – or not.

I know this isn’t six words, but it’s my Saturday.

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: remembrance

The Big T's aunts Mary and Hazel, and Uncle Tom. All served in WWII, and survived to marry and raise families.

The Big T’s aunts Mary and Hazel, and Uncle Tom. All served in WWII, and survived to marry and raise families.

uncles david and jim in naval uniform small

Nephew and uncle. My uncle David (left) and Great Uncle Jim (right), both served in the Royal Navy during WWII. Born only months apart, they were more like brothers. This photo was taken while the ships that both served on were in Brisbane, Australia. The story goes that they used the novelty of their relationship to persuade their respective commanders to grant them leave to have this photo taken. Both also survived war to marry and raise families. My uncle David spent many years in Zimbabwe and now lives in England.

This post was written for Wordless Wednesday, a Geneabloggers prompt.