Sunday, 17 April 2016

"I hope this time next year I will be back in Pig Island, it will do me..."

On Sunday, I went to see the exhibition at Aratoi, Wairarapa's Museum of Art and History (what a wonderful mix) on the Featherston Military Training Camp. These are just some of the stories from World War One that stuck in my mind:

Dr William Bey, superintendent at the nearby Greytown Hospital, cared for the soldiers who were admitted there. He died in the influenza epidemic of 1918, three months after his son had been killed in France. I think this must have been his son: William Farquharson Bey who died at Bapaume on 25 August 1918 and is one of the soldiers remembered at the memorial gates and avenue of lime trees in Greytown.

Private Norman Christopher enlisted on 5 January 1916. He entered Featherston Camp and died there under anaesthetic at the dental hospital on 23 February 1916. (Many soldiers had work done on their teeth before leaving for overseas. Perhaps this was just a routine operation.)

The Featherston memorial panel for soldiers who died at the Military Training Camp
during World War One, 

Leonard James Aplin, who joined up in 1917 and wrote letters that give a very evocative picture of a soldier's daily life:

2 December 1917, Ocean wave: "On the afternoon we left, there was someone waving out of nearly every house in Wellington."

10 February 1918, Sling Camp: "I hope this time next year I will be back in Pig Island, it will do me... "

25 October 1918,No 2 NZ General Hospital, Walton-on-Thames: "Alex Gray from East Taratahi came in last night, we had been in a London hospital. He told me old Billy Bey was killed. What a lot of Carterton boys have gone out..."

I've just realised now, looking at the name and the date, that he must have been referring to William Bey, mentioned above.

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