Friday, October 28, 2011

The Riddle Brothers - Piopio

Four Riddle brothers enlisted to serve in World War One John, Hormah, Patrick and Ewing.  Marion Riddle their mother had only just lost her husband Walter Riddle who had died in 1914 the departure of her sons over the next couple of years must have been heart wrenching. 

The first of the four brothers to embark were John (12/3140) and Hormah Riddle (12/3141) who had enlisted together and then embarked with the Auckland Infantry Regiment as part of the 7th Reinforcements on the 9 October 1915.  Their military records have not yet been digitised so I have been unable to find out if they served together after they arrived at the Front as I should imagine they did (on my next visit to Wellington I intend to look up several Military Records including John and Hormah Riddle).  John Riddle was killed in action on 30 September 1916 on the Somme.  When the news of his death reached New Zealand I am sure his mother would have been bereft with grieve especially as two further sons were now enlisted to follow their brothers to war.

Ewing (32067) and Patrick Riddle (32068) also enlisted together on 25 July 1916 and embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 15 November 1916.  I wonder how they felt?  Had the death of their brother made them more determined to do their bit?  or were they filled with trepidation now that more than ever they were aware that they may not return to New Zealand.  I imagine they felt both.

Ewing and Patrick marched into Etaples camp in France on 3 March 1917 and both were attached to the Wellington Battalion.  Patrick joined the Battalion in the Field on 27 May 1917.  In contrast Ewing was admitted to hospital with Gastritis on 3 April 1917 and sent back to England and did not join the Battalion until 9 July 1917.   After a time at the Front the brothers went on leave to England from 5 February 1918 returning to the field on 26 February 1918.  This time it was Patrick's turn to be hospitalised with a sprained back.  He went back into the field but soon reported sick again with more back problems.   Eventually Patrick was medically discharged just weeks before the war came to a close.  On his records it states that he was suffering from disseminated sclerosis (Multiple sclerosis).

On returning from leave in February Ewing continued to serve in France until the 4 November 1918 when with only days to go before the war came to an end,  he was killed in action at Le Quesnoy.  Two days later his brother Patrick embarked on the ship 'Ayrshire' back to New Zealand and his wife and two young daughters.  I wonder if he knew the news of his brother before he embarked? 

I would love to hear from anyone who has more to tell about the Riddle Brothers or who has any photos.  The Riddle brothers were most certainly 'Brothers in Arms'.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back to Business

With the Rugby World Cup now over life can go back to normal and it's back to business!
Watch this space.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

2nd Lieutenant Clifford Clapcott Barclay - Te Kuiti Memorial

2nd Lieutenant (Lieut.) Clifford Barclay was not originally from Te Kuiti he was a Canterbury man and the son of Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Barclay.  I could find no direct link to the Barclay family and Te Kuiti except that maybe Barclay's  job as a Stock Agent for Guiness Le Cren took him to Te Kuiti on many occasions where he was thought well enough of to be mentioned on their memorial.

Clifford Barclay enlisted in Timaru on the 13 August 1914 he was 21 years old.  He embarked with the Main Body as part of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion on 16 October 1914.   On the 25 April 1915 he was reported missing and later pronounced killed in action by a Board of Enquiry.

In a twist of fate the 25 April 1915 would have been Clifford Barclay's  22nd birthday.  I have no doubt his family back in New Zealand would have been thinking fondly of him on that day.  It is tragic to think that a day of family celebration should become a sad day of commemoration for the Barclay family.

As a side note Lieut. Colonel Herbert Barclay (Clifford Barclay's father) also served in World War One (I wonder how many fathers and sons served in this war?).  Lieut. Colonel Barclay was on extended leave when war broke out overseas and he ended up serving at the Russian Field Hospital in Petrograd until January 1915.  (There is a small but interesting display about the hospital in the War Memorial Museum in Auckland in the Armoury department)  I also found an interesting report made by Lieut. Colonel Barclay printed in the Evening Post about the Hospital. See link below:

Lieut. Colonel Barclay served out the rest of the war with the Royal Army Medical Corp in France.  Unlike his son Clifford he survived the war.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trooper Ludlow Maynard Lacosta Fox Bartrop - Te Kuiti Memorial

We often hear how young men lied about their age making themselves older so they are eligible to enlist in World War One and "do their bit".  However, there were also those who made themselves younger, such as Trooper Bartrop.

Trooper Bartrop enlisted on the the 14 August 1914.  He had been employed as a farmer for J.C. Roolleston of Te Kuiti.   Originally born in Australia his father was Major George Frederick Bartrop and his brother Arthur Leigh La Baste Bartrop served in the Boer War leaving with the First New Zealand Contingent, he later went on to serve in the Intelligence Service in South Africa.  With such military family connections Bartrop no doubt felt a strong sense of duty to enlist.  He embarked with the Main Body on the 16 October 1914 attached to the Auckland Mounted Rifles and was posted to his unit on 28 July 1915.  His war however was to be short lived and on the 8 August 1915 at Chunuk Bair, like many on that day, he was reported missing.  Eventually a board of inquiry held at Sarpi Camp on Lemnos on 31 October 1915 reported him "Reasonable to suppose dead" .  Trooper Bartrop is remembered on the Chunuk Bair memorial. He has no known grave.

I found an newspaper report in The Age, Melbourne which gave an account of Trooper Bartrop's death.

...died "a gallant soldier's death"... when all the officers of his company had been put out of action L. Bartrop gathered the men together and led a final charge and was shot on the top of a Turk parapet.

As I mentioned at the beginning Trooper Bartrop had given his age as 35 years when enlisting, however according to the Cenotaph database and the Commonwealth Graves Commission database he was actually 41 years old when he died making him too old to enlist in 1914.

Surely Trooper Bartrop was again one of many unknown heroes of the Great War.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

12 October 1917

When I begun this project back in January the date 12 October 1917 meant nothing to me.  However, after visiting 54 memorials across New Zealand (to date) the 12 October 1917 has become a recurring theme of my research.  There have been very few memorials which I have visited that do not bear the name of someone who lost their life on that ill-fated day at Passchendaele. 

The 12 October 1917 is etched in our New Zealand history as the most tragic day in terms of loss of life by New Zealand soldiers.  The experiences of those who survive and who have since written about that day are harrowing to read.  Many New Zealanders today have no idea of the significance of the 12 October 1917 which should surely be remembered as much as Gallipoli is on Anzac day and be at the forefront of our World War One history.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Back in action

Been out off action for a couple of weeks with sick family members etc, etc.  But I am now back on task.  Tomorrow I am going to attend the Passchendaele Commemoration Ceremony at The Cenotaph, Auckland Domain at 11.00am.  The Band of the Royal New Zealand Navy will be performing before the Ceremony, from 10.30am, and again immediately after the Ceremony.  Wednesday 12th October 2011. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The sons of Alfred & Elizabeth Black - Awakino Memorial

Sydney Morrison Black was a farmer and the son of Alfred and Elizabeth Black he embarked with the 15th Reinforcements on 26 July 1916 as part of the Wellington Infantry Regiment.  His cousin Edward Leslie Black also a farmer embarked with him as part of the Wellington Infantry Regiment.  Edward was the son of William and Mary Black.  Sydney Black was sadly killed in action aged 26, at Bapaume on 26 August 1918 at the same battle on the previous day his cousin Edward won a Military Medal for gallantry.   Citation below:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  On 25 August 1918 during operation near Grevillers while acting as a Battalion runner, Private Black carried on three different occasions important message to the forward area through a very heavy barrage of shell and machines gun fire.  He set a very high standard of courage and by his devotion to duty through a most critical period helped in a great measure the success of our operations.    Citation taken from Wayne Macdonalds book Awar

Edward Leslie Black returned to New Zealand at the end of the war and died in 1965 aged 81 years. However, the Black family contribution did not stop there.

Alfred Reginald Black brother of Edward and son of William Black enlisted in December 1915 and embarked on 1 April 1916 with the 11th Reinforcements as part of the Wellington Infantry Battalion.   Alfred Black was promoted to the rank of Corporal on 10 February 1918 and then enjoyed some leave in the United Kingdom before returning to duty on 15 March 1918. Two weeks later on 30 March 1918 at  the Somme he was killed in action.

A further member of the Black family enlisted that of Ronald Clifford Black son of  William Black and brother to Alfred and Edward.  Ronald embarked on 27 May 1916 and served with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Despite being wounded in 1918 Ronald survived the war and returned to New Zealand dying in 1971 aged 74 years.

The Black Family's contribution to World War One was like many families of that time a great one.  It was also full of proud moments mixed with overwhelming grief at those who were lost and joy for those who returned.