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.