Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thames (NZ): WW100 ROH Commemorations for August - September 1918-2018

One hundred years ago, Thamesites were believing (or rather hoping) that the Great War was nearly over. How much longer before their men and women would be coming home? Their boys had survived this long, surely things would be okay and they would be back home again.

August and September 1918, were some of Thames' darkest 'war' days. Twenty-one servicemen were Killed in Action or Died of Wounds/Disease during these war months. Just wait till October and the gravity of these last few months (one hundred years ago -1918) will really become a reality.

16/08/1918 In the Field, France; GREENE Jack Godfrey40311; Lance Corporal  1st Batt AIR
21/08/1918 In the Field, France; TAYLOR William Henry1806A; Driver AIF
24/08/1918 In the Field, France; BRAME Albert Victor52370; Private 2nd Batt WIR
24/08/1918 In the Field, France; WILLIAMS Stanley Earl;  38471; Private 2nd Batt AIR
25/08/1918 In the Field, France; MCCORQUINDALE Stuart34480; Driver NZASC
28/08/1918 In the Field, France; JENKIN Friedrich James38399; Private 1st Batt AIR
29/08/1918  In the Field, France; HARROD Samuel17781; Rifleman NZRB
30/08/1918  In the Field, France; HAWKES Robert Edwin24/1679; Private 2nd Batt AIR
30/08/1918  In the Field, France; JOBE James65791; Rifleman 1sr Batt 3rd NZRB D Coy
30/08/1918 In the Field, France; KELLER Francis Walpole52047; Private AIR
2/09/1918 In the Field, France; CORBETT Thomas Joseph31951; Private 2nd Batt AIR
3/09/1918 In the Field, France; WENZLICK George56494; Private 1st Batt CIR
4/09/1918 At sea; STANLEY Thomas James12/4094; Private NZ Infantry 40th Refts H Coy
5/09/1918 In the Field, France; SKEEN Reginald William2/2730; Gunner 3rd NZFA 12th Battery
9/09/1918 In the Field, France; TAYLOR Archie Walter24/307; Rifleman 2nf Batt NZRB
9/09/1918 In the Field, France; GARRY Lewis34358; Corporal 2nf Batt 3rd NZRB
12/09/1918 In the Field, France; GARRY Sidney34468; Corporal 2nf Batt 3rd NZRB
13/09/1918 Codford, England; MCENTEER Claude76955; Private NZEF E Coy
28/09/1918 In the Field, France; PARSONS William Claude34425; Private 1st Batt AIR
29/09/1918 In the Field, France; SHAW Leonard James7/1323; 2nd Lieut 2nd Batt AIR 6th Coy
30/09/1918 In the Field, France; TRAINER Francis Herbert56681; Private 1st Batt AIR
(A full Roll of Honour List is available)

Who were these men?

BRAME Albert Victor: Albert was born in Thames, the son of John and Mary Brame; and was living in Waitoa when he enlisted.

CORBETT Thomas Joseph: Born at Hikutaia, the son of Thomas and Mary Corbett. Thomas went to school in Thames, and worked as a fitter at the local foundry A & G Price.

GARRY Lewis: Lewis was a twin, his parents were Alfred and Jessie Garry. The family came from Waipawa, initially living at Parawai, then in Sandes Street. The boy's mother died when they were just three years old.

GARRY Sidney: Sidney Godfrey Garry was Killed in Action just three days after his twin brother Lewis. Both killed on the same battlefield at Bapaume, both are buried in Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery, Northern France.

GREENE Jack Godfrey: Jack was a clerk for NZ Railways at Thames, he lived at Karaka Road. His NOK Mrs S J Greene, Parnell.

HARROD Samuel: The son of Henry and Anna Harrod, the family lived up the Waiotahi Creek. Samuel was working in Auckland when he enlisted.

HAWKES Robert Edwin: The son of Richard and Mary Hawkes of Tapu. Robert went to school at Tapu and later worked on his farm at Tapu. He was 37 years of age when he went to war.

JENKIN Friedrich James: The son of James and Martha Jenkin of Augustus Street, Thames. Friedrich was schooled in Thames, then worked as a carpenter for Mr Whitehead of Parawai.

JOBE James: Born in Thames, the son of James and Mary Jobe; the family lived in Broad Street. Jobe was married and lived in Hamilton at the time of enlistment.

KELLER Francis Walpole: Francis was the son of John and Alice Keller, born at Thames in 1876.

MCCORQUINDALE Stuart: Born at Oamaru, and later lived in Karaka Road, Thames. Stuart was a mechanic in Whangarei when he enlisted in 1916.

MCENTEER Claude: Born at Thames the son of James and Elizabeth McEnteer. Claude attended the Waihi School of Mines.

PARSONS William Claude: Claude was born at Thames, the son of  John and Lucy Parsons.

SHAW Leonard: Leonard's NOK was Miss J L Shaw (Sister), Thames Hospital; he was the son of the late John and Jessie Shaw, of Glen Murray, Auckland. Shaw had served at Gallipoli. 

SKEEN Reginald William: Skeen was the son Benjamin and Margaret Skeen and was born at Thames; he attended the Kauaeranga Boys School. He worked at the BNZ at Thames.

STANLEY Thomas James: Thomas was born at Thames; he was working as a contractor on enlistment at Te Aroha. NOK was Mrs Annie Louisa Stanley (Wife), Te Aroha.

TAYLOR Archie Walter: Taylor was born at Thames. Enlistment address Waihou. His NOK was Walter A Taylor (Father), Waihou.

TAYLOR William Henry: William was born in Auckland, the son of Amelia and James Taylor. The family then resided at Irishtown and William attended the Waiokaraka School. Taylor was a miner in Australia, and subsequently served with the Australian Imperial Forces.

TRAINER Francis Herbert: The son of Edward and Emily Trainor of Tararu. At the time of enlistment, Trainer/Trainor was a self-employed fisherman of Tararu.

WENZLICK George: The son of Mrs Mary Wenzlick, of Tapu, Thames.  George's NOK was Mrs G Wenzlick (mother), Tapu, New Zealand - he working as a farmer on enlistment.

WILLIAMS Stanley Earl: Stanley was only 17 years of ages when he enlisted, he had attended Thames High School in 1915.

From Gold Mine to Firing Line, The Thames and the Great War 1914-1918, Editor M Hawkes. Available at The Treasury, Thames.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Thames (NZ): Diggers' Camp at Shortland Town

Diggers' Camp - Shortland Town
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-856'

Thanks to fellow researcher (Dick) for his recent emails over several early Thames photographs and their location.

One such photo discussed was the 'Diggers' Camp' at Shortland Town. (photo right) A classic early view of the goldfield and the realities of life at the Thames. In early reports, the goldfield is often referred to as the Karaka Goldfield, for this is where the action was, and where many looked for gold. While quite substantial houses were built on the flat areas of the towns of Graham and Shortland, it was the area at the base of the Karaka (Una) Hill that saw many men pitch their tents or build their raupo huts.

Thames Star 16 Sept 1885
Warden James Mackay, assisted in establishing the accommodation area, known as Block 27. Principally it was from Augustus Street in the west, Karaka Road to the north and Hape Creek in the south.

Theophilus Cooper wrote 7 December 1867, that the Diggers' Camp was on a flat above the town, that the night was glorious with the l houses in Shortland Town glistening in the moonlight - while everywhere he looked around the hills little lights could be seen, indicating miner's scattered all over the hills.

By the end of 1868, this 'tent city' had been in the most part replaced by small miners' cottages, many of which would be added onto as money allowed. (photo below)

Late 1868 - View toward the Karaka (Una Hill), from the corner of Sandes and Richmond Street
Source: J Vedder-Price Collection
Thanks to 'Google Street Maps', the comparison of past and present is possible. Residential properties now fill the old Diggers' Camp, the Karaka (Una) Hill is covered in bush, the miners and their hunt for gold just a memory around the old gold town. (photo below)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Thames (NZ): Shortland Wharf 1891 Painting

Thames River with native canoe in foreground, wooden dwelling in background.Painting by: Cheeseman, Ellen Maud 1848-1928, artist
A magnificent view of Shortland Wharf, the painting by Ellen Maud Cheeseman, signed 1891.
While the Shortland Wharf structure can be clearly seen in the distance, it also shows us how the area was more accessible than today. The landing itself being further east, and vessels such as waka could land well past the Shortland Wharf itself. There few mangroves in those days - or maybe they were cleared! The photo below by W A Price was taken a decade later, in the early 1900s.

PA-Group-00719. Price, William Archer, 1866-1948 :Collection of post card negatives. 1900 - 1930. [Collection]
Repository: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand
Who was Ellen Maud CHEESEMAN?
"Ellen Cheeseman was the sister of Thomas Frederick Cheeseman, Curator of Auckland Institute and Museum from 1874-1923." There are several of her watercolours at the Auckland Museum.
Ellen was the daughter of Thomas Cheeseman and Eliza (Cawkwell) Cheeseman


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thames (NZ): Mrs Milne's Postcards

Something a little different for us to consider - two glitter postcards are my latest find. I wasn't sure if they were real or not, in the sense of being a professionally produced postcard, but having received the cards they are definitely genuine (and in mint condition).


The cards have been written by 'Harriett' to her dear friend Ruby Milne of the Waiotahi.

"Dear Ruby, I received your kind ? welcome PC & was very pleased to get it.  The reason I was so long in answering it is because my father is not at all well again. Well I tried to get that PC that you ask me but I could not so I thought you would be just as pleased to get one of these sort.
I hope to get one from you by Monday you don't know how I look for the postman on a Monday.  So don't forget Remember me to all at home,  Hoping to see you down our way again soon, 
from Harriett." (Top left card reverse.)

On the second card (top right), are the clues that give Ruby's address - Mrs J Milne, Waiotahi, Thames. It also provides us with the approximate date of after 1907, as the one penny red universal stamp was used. Part of the date stamp is visible, and the card to Ruby was posted in Thames. While this may appear strange, it certainly isn't uncommon and I have struck before the instance of people in Thames writing to one another.

Harriet wrote on the second card:
Dear Ruby, You will think it a  longtime since I sent you a post card.  I was going to send in before this but its better late than never,  I hope you will all get this one allright.  
Hoping you will send me one soon."

What can the cards tell us in terms of genealogy research? Who was Ruby Milne?

Mrs Ruby Milne nee Given was married to William Henry John Milne in 1906, they went on to live up the Waiotahi for many years. Mr Milne was a soldier during World War One.
Contact details on Ruby's husbands war file.
Archives New Zealand

ABOVE Left: William Henry John Milne.  Right: Ruby Milne, in her Salvation Army uniform.
Source: G Milne Family Collection.

Mr Milne passed away in 1937, while Ruby died in 1979 - both are interred at Shortland Cemetery

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Thames (NZ): WWI Pilots with a Thames Connection

When you think of WWI, the first thought are the troops on the ground, and our miners aka tunnellers - but we often forget those brave men who first fought in the sky.

Thames has the honour of having had four men who were pilots in World War One. A new book from Massey University Press called Fearless by Adam Claasen has information on our men.

1.  While remembered by many for his efforts in World War Two, Sir Keith Park, then just Pilot Keith Park went on to be highly distinguished and received several awards. 

Park was born and initially schooled in Thames. Initially during WWI, Park was an instructor, which led him to having had many more flying hours than most pilots flying in 1917.

The book Fearless covers Park's experiences in the war and how he rose from pilot to commander. "Keith Park's sterling work in 1917, when he and observers between them accumulated 16 victories in the Bristol fighter, saw him promoted to Major Park, commanding 48 Squadron in 1948." Claasen page 296.
Major K.R. Park, O.C. 48th Sqdn. R.A.F. -/6/1918 with his 275 Rolls Engine in Bristol Scout (120mph).  Source: AWM Cenotaph contributor.
Flight Sub-Lieutenant Euan Dickson RN
2. Euan Dickson was from England and recruited by A & G Price, to work in the local foundry in 1913. Dickson called Thames home for three years before signing up for WWI. During his time in World War One, the Thames Star newspaper kept readers up-to-date with his service - a tribute to his community involvement during his brief stay in the town.

"Sub-lieutenant E. Dickson, who made many friends while he was at Thames a few years ago, is now doing good work in the Royal Flying Corps in France. Lieut. Dickson participate in a recent air raid when 15 German machines were destroyed." Thames Star, 12 December 1917. Dickson went on to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

"Dickson undertook more bombing sorties than any other airman in the Great War, and went on to become one of the two most successful bomber pilots in aerial combat." Claasen page 331.

Albert Gordon.
3. Albert Gordon was another flier from Thames.  After leaving school Albert worked for a local builder and then in Auckland was recorded as a Master Builder on his enlistment.

His love of flying led him to train at Kohimarama and he became a member of the Royal Flying Corps. The rest is sadly history, and Thamesite Albert Gordon became the "first New Zealand trained pilot to be killed in action in World War I." (Roger Strong, NZ Memories Issue 130)

Gordon was wounded while flying in a battle that took him completely by surprise during what should have been a routine flight. "Within hours the newcomer would be in hospital with two broken legs, thanks to a nasty crash landing." Claasen page 281. He was transferred to England but died of wounds received in action.

Thames Star 12 August 1918.
4. Another Thamesite who flew in the Great War was Carrick Stewart Paul. He was also a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. 

"Paul and his observer William Weir were jointly awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 8 February 1919. Paul never knew of the honor; while on the voyage home to New Zealand, he drowned on 22 January 1919." Wikipedia.

Further Reading: 
Air Vice Marshall Sir Keith Park, by Kae Lewis, The Treasury Journal - Our People.
Carrick Stewart Paul at AWM cenotaph entry.
Euan Dickson, D.F.C. by Roger Strong in Treasury Journal Volume 9 2016.
Fearless by Adam Claasen, Massey University Press.
Thamesite Albert Gordon, by Althea Barker - blog entry.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thames (NZ): New Signage at Historic Cemeteries

Improvements are continuing at Shortland and Tararu Cemeteries. In this instance it is new signage at the entrance to the two historic burial sites.

While in the first instance the entrance signs have been placed in challenging positions, they are at least in place.

The background for the sign at Tararu Historic Cemetery is of the coast road decades back. (above)

The new signs at the Shortland Historic Cemetery include a map that shows how the cemetery is divided into three sections and gives plot numbers contained in each block.

ABOVE: Close-up of the sign at the Danby Street entrance to the Shortland Historic Cemetery.
BELOW: The map and plot section on the sign (left) and the sign taken from the footpath (right).


There should be some official news on the proposed 'Friends of the Historic Cemeteries' in the near future. Hopefully this makes us all more conscious of the state of these great landmarks and allow volunteers to get in and make some improvements - assisting the great work done by volunteer Graeme.

Further Reading:
Shortland and Tararu Cemeteries of Thames by Margaret Nankivell. Treasury Journal Volume 2.
Tararu Cemetery - What secrets and stories does it hold? by Althea Barker. Treasury Journal Vol 5.
General Cemetery Information.
TCDC Cemetery Information and Search of Burials.
Findagrave - location and plot details, some with photos: Shortland, Tararu and Totara Cemeteries.