Gower Death docs

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About Kiwi Bob

I am a 79 year old male, retired broadcaster. For the last seven years I have been checking out all of the letters, postcards and diaries which are held by the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington and to some extent those held in the Auckland War Museum. As with many of these writings, particularily postcards, the identity of the writer is often very difficult as they often simply write "Dear Molly....."and finish with '...love from your brother Sam" and similar words. By carefully reading the content, the date and where the card came from, I can often put a name to the author. This new information is then added to the Library's database. The main reason for me doing this labour-of-love is to make it easier for people out there who may suddenly wonder if there is any writing by, or mention of a long since passed-away soldier as the centenary of Gallipoli approaches. My success rate so far has been about 25% of previously unidentified names. I spend several hours per week at the Turnbull as well as the National Archives. The Archives holds about 70% of all WW1 NZ soldier's files and as I request to sight each file, it is digitized which enables anyone to view it. As it costs NZ$25.00 to order a file without actually visiting the Archives in Wellington, I am happy to order same on any members behalf at no cost if I receive a request. With the permission of the Turnbull Library and the Auckland War Museum, I am hoping to soon include my Microsoft Excel database of my work on this page. I am attaching my very small database of manuscripts, postcards, letters etc which are my property and nothing to do with the Turnbull Library or Auckland War Museum. Please contact me if you have any questions. Kiwi Bob
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39 Responses to

  1. mark russell says:

    fantastic work

  2. Anthony Meachen says:

    My Grandfather was about to get off the boat at Gallipoli in the first World War and looked over the top. He saw all the bullets flying and turned to his good mate beside him and said : If you make it to the beach and i dont you name one of your sons after me and if i make it to the beach and you dont i will name one of my sons after you.They agreed and shook hands. The front of the boat came down and they swam and ran for the beach and dived on the sand. My Grand Father Edwin Purcell Meachen looked back and there was his good mate face down in the water , shot.His second son was named Valentine Joseph Meachen who was my Uncle. My second son is also named Valentine Joseph Meachen. Would be interested to know where to look for the Valentine Joseph first names that were shot on the beach at Gallipoli.

    • Kiwi Bob says:

      Hello Tony, did you reseive my email response? Cheers Bob

    • Keith Sloane says:

      Anthony, You may have the answer to this by now, but it’s 99%, Hon. Capt. Valentine Joseph Egglestone, 8/1147, Killed 6 June Gallipoli. See photo on Auckland cenotaph website. Check on Archway as well.

  3. Graham Savell says:

    In the Ian Matheson City Archives in Palmerston North there is a suitcase containing many letters from a WW1 soldier to his sister. The suitcase when I viewed it was under the name of another WW1 soldier named Alfred Leopold (Leo) Savell. The letters are mostly between a WW1 soldier named Charles Peter Hamilton Neilson and his sister Edith Alma Eileen Neilson. This Neilson was a member of the Ettie Rout New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood which invited women between the ages of 30 and 50 to go to Egypt to care for New Zealand soldiers. Miss Neilson married Leo Savell in 1931 hence the reason why these letters are in Leo Savell’s suitcase. There are probably at least 100 original letters plus other material in this suitcase. When I saw the suitcase material, nothing within it had been indexed although the Archives had no trouble finding the suitcase for me. You maybe interested in this “hidden” treasure.

    Graham Savell

    • Kiwi Bob says:

      Hello Graham
      Many thanks for that information, it indeed sounds like a treasure trove. Is it available for public perusal?
      Thanks again Bob

    • Kiwi Bob says:

      Hello Graham, I thought I had responded to your message but I cannot see my message on screen so I will have another go. Many thanks for that information it indeed sounds likje a treasure trove. Is it available for public access. Cheers Bob

      • Graham Savell says:

        As far as I know it is available to anyone. When I called to view the suitcase contents I was not asked any questions and the suitcase was readily made available. I rang in advance of my call. I had to view the contents under supervision and was not allowed to take it away from the building. Photocopies were allowed to be made.

  4. Pam says:

    Hi. I’ve been researching families in Hataitai in Wellington, including the 23 men listed on the WW1 memorial at Kilbirnie School. If you have any letters mentioning Hataitai, Kilbirnie or Lyall Bay that you can’t identify, I may be able to offer clues.

    • Kiwi Bob says:

      Thanks for your message Pam. I will keep you very much in mind from now on. If you have a list of the names on the memorial I may be able to providee you with some snippets re some of the soldiers.
      Cheers Bob

    • Kiwi Bob says:

      Hello again Pam
      I suppose you are already aware many of those names on the Kilbirnie Memorial have their army files digitized. I was going to arrange to get some of them done when I saw they had already been done. It is inteeesting that you should be researching Hataitai families. Among the WW1 postcards at The Turnbull Library, there is one from a Len (no surname) to his cousin Milly (Mildred Baker) and is seems she lived in Hataitai. I wonder if she is someone you know of as I would bery much like to put a name to the sender. He also mentions love to Alf, Oenie and Gladis. Hope you can help
      Cheers Bob

  5. Kiwi Bob says:

    Thanks for that Pam, I do not immediately recognise any of the names so far but I will dig deeper and let you know if I find any written materia by any of those lovely boys.
    Cheers Bob

  6. campbell gower says:

    Dear Bob
    You’re a marvel ! I am Les Gower’s grand nephew (my Grandfather was (Dr.) George Gower, Les’s brother). Your transcriptions are especially poignant for me, a relative; tragic, heart rendering, yet in a way charming & endearing at the same time. I live in Kelburn and would love to get together and tell you more about the family, as you like. George was a distinguished surgeon, ran several hospitals in WWII, was promoted to Brigadier, and awarded a Military CBE. He always missed his brother. All the best, you’re doing a wonderful thing for so many, and especially my family, who are very grateful. Kindest regards, Campbell

    • Kiwi Bob says:

      Hello Campbell. I am so pleased I found a relative of Leslie’s and will be happy to talk with you at some time. I live in Karori. Today I have just completed an interview for TVNZ’s Close Up which will go to air some time soon. Most of it was in refererence to my Gower material. I also know quite a bit about your grandfather. I wonder why someone in your family decided to sell the material off at auction all those years ago. Call me on 476 9968 if you like.

  7. Susie Hill says:

    I grew up in Hataitai. I was very moved by your TV item and shed a tear with you both. My grand father Len Hill was at Gallipoli and survived, hence my existence. He was salt of the earth gentle lovely man and lived to his 80th year. His brother Hector (24) didnt make it though the war and died at Ypres. We make a family pilgrimage there and is grave is beautiful – he is with three other Kiwi mates. You will love going to Gallipoli, the Turkish people are our brothers and sisters. While it is agonising to experience, it is very cathartic somehow. What wonderful work you are doing – we just cant comprehend the terrible things our men suffered can we? You commemorate their lives – lest we forget. Yours Susie Hill (Auckland)

    • Kiwi Bob says:

      Hello Susie, what a nice message you sent. I am not sure whether I replied to this befoe but will do so now. If you have not already done it, on your behalf I would like to check out any documentation about them if you know their full names, Regimental Numbers, location of their homes when enlisted or things like that. he was he Len or Leonard? as there were 5 named Len and about 13 named Leonard but only 3 named Hector.
      Nice to hear from you Bob

      • Kiwi Bob says:

        Hello again Susie, I have , I think, now determined that your relatives were 9/556, Lieutenant? Leonard Alexander HILL and 7/2036, Bombardier Hector Grey HILL. They both have their army files in the National Archives and I will order them to be digitized if you like. You wil then be able to read them on line. The Auckland War Museum have a nice entry regarding Hector and a small item from the Weekly News 24/1/1918. Let me know if you want my help in obtaining their files.
        Best wishes Bob

  8. Thomas says:

    Today I found two letters from my father written home from Belgium (I think) in August 1917. I have been trying to find something about his war record and was wondering if you might have a few suggestions as to where to research this. He was born in NZ but may have enlisted in the UK where he had close family. He served at some time in the transport division of the RFC as an NCO. He died in Napier in 1959.

    • Kiwi Bob says:

      Hello Thomas I hope that is a first name. What was the full name of your father.
      Regards Bob

      • Thomas says:

        Thank you for your reply. My father’s full name is:
        Joseph Wilfrid White born in Napier 01/02/1892 ( NZ BDM reg # 1892/168).
        Kind regards, Thomas.
        PS Wilfrid is correct but is recorded as Wilfred on NZ BDM reg # 1959/27917

  9. Ali says:

    Hi Bob,

    Sorry to do this to you but would you add the following requests to your already growing list of requests:

    AABK 18805 W5557/63 0120771
    WENMOTH, Edward Albert – WW1 85911 – Army ORDER DETAILS »
    1914 1918 Wgtn
    AABK 18805 W5557/63 0120772
    WENMOTH, Samuel – WW1 15630 – Army ORDER DETAILS »
    1914 1918 Wgtn
    AABK 18805 W5557/63 0120773
    WENMOTH, William Phillips – WW1 7/2326 – Army ORDER DETAILS »
    1914 1918 Wgtn

    I keep finding extended family members with service records.
    And do you want copies of letters? and postcards sent from Egypt, Gallipoli or are you working your way through the Alexander Turnball Library collection as I have a few from my gg uncle who died at Chanuk Bair.

    Cheers Ali.

  10. Ali Clements says:

    Hello Ali. I think i have already replied to your note. Yes I would like to see copies of any postcards etc. In addition to my work with the Turnbul, I am also setting up another database of WW1 postmarks and censor markings thus I am interested in seeing copies of postcards and envelopes bearing them. The letters inside narrow the gap as to the relationship between the external markings and the sending address on the letter or postcard.
    I have ordered your files as requested.
    Best regards

    • Ali Clements says:

      Another message from Kiwi Bob to anyone out there. I have just updated my Turnbull Library Docs data base.

  11. Ali says:

    HI Bob,
    My your computer is having a bad day or what! may confuse your other bloggers will look at uploading any WW1 stuff we have although my GG Uncle James Fotheringham features on the New Zealand Mounted Rifles association website along with his fellow troopers. Dont know if you have met up with NZMR but they have diaries etc online and do re-enactments also. Coming up to Armistace Day in Cambridge also always a big weekend with lots of displays equipment etc.

    Regards Ali.

    • Kiwi Bob says:

      Hi again Ali Thanks for the info re the NZMR, you will see in by database lots of men who served with the Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago MRs. Your get -together day sounds like fun. I will have a look at their website too. Cheers Bob

  12. Ali says:

    Hi Bob,
    I have struck a problem searching for a relations ww1 military record – I have his name James Johnston and a dob 1891 born Dunedin but there are about 12 of these on Archives records how do I narrow down from the Archives search page to find the James I am after without requesting all 12 files, I do not know what my James military service number is.
    Regards Alison

    • Kiwi Bob says:

      Hello again Ali
      You can oftern find the identity of a soldeir from some fairly simple criteria,;eg do you lknow. The names of his parents, brothers or sisters, his occupation and the town he was in at the time of his enlistment.,the date he left NZ and/or the name of the ship, did he survive the war, if he retuned – on what ship or the approx date he left or arrivewd home, was he also in WW2. If you can reveal any of these facts it will reduce the number of possibles considerably and could even reduce them to one. I can tell you that there were four from Dunedin, 29487, Janes Malcolm JOHNSTON a Shepherd and his NoK was his sister Mrs E Cassalls of Burnside Dunedin, he was KiA at Messines 26/5/1917; 69093, James Whitson JOHNSTON a Bakers Assistant whose mother Mrs J Johnston lived in 143 Queen Street, Dunedin; 39426, James JOHNSTON a Metal Worker whose mother was Jane and she lived in 45 Grange Street, Dunedin and 58341, William James JOHNSTON a Farmer whose mother was Mrs C Johnston of Main Road, Ravenbourne , Dunedin. I hope this info is any help. We can arrange for all the files to be digitized as a last resort.
      Best wishes Bob

      • Ali says:

        Hi Bob,

        Bob you are magic, it looks like James Johnston metal worker whose mother was Jane Johnston of 45 Grange (in some records as George) Street Dunedin or to be safe could you request James Whitson Johnston bakers assistant also. My James survived the war and may match up with an unnamed family photo we have been trying to put a name to for awhile.

  13. Ali says:

    Hi bob many thanks for requesting James Johnstons military record – still not sure if he is the correct one so would you mind requesting also.

    AABK 18805 W5541/67 0061189
    JOHNSTON, James Whitson – WW1 69093 – Army

    Anyhow once again thankyou for your assistance you are a treasure. Cheers Alison

  14. Ali says:

    Hi Bob,

    ive found another relation would you be so kind to order the following file please,

    AABK 18805 W5549/95 0087958
    OGILVY, Alexander William – WW1 49200 – Army
    Hope you are keeping well.
    Cheers Ali

  15. Ali says:

    AABK 18805 W5539/109 0053377
    HENDERSON, Horace Merle Bonar – WW1

    AABK 18805 W5614/2 0424726
    BONAR, David – WWI 65196

    AABK 18805 W5539/88 0051211
    HARRIS, Raymond – WW1 7/2263

    Hi Bob, would you mind requesting the above – still plugging away away following up leads here. Regards Ali.

    • Kiwi Bob says:

      Hi Ali Sorry for the delay. I will arange for your files to be digitized. Happy New Year Kiwi Bob

      • Ali says:

        Hi Bob,
        No appologies required Bob you provide a great service for those of us that cannot visit the Archives in person. Happy New year or better still happy hogmanay. Cheers Ali.

  16. Glenn Thomas says:

    Hi, wow, I’ve just found this via google on a whim, not researching anything! I’m also Leslie’s great nephew! My mum’s father Arthur Gower was also Leslie’s brother. Mum was always very fond of Uncle George!

    Haven’t yet but really looking forward to looking at this material.

    I’d also love someday to find great grandad’s yacht, Leslie’s father, they used to sail it out from oriental parade. Great grandad William was a pharmacist.

    Happy to hear from any of you

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