Category Archives: People

Tunnicliffe? Tunnecliffe? Tonacliffe? ~ Surname Saturday

It’s fascinating where surnames originated and how they evolved. In April I posted about my 3 x great grandfather, George Tunnecliff. Or was it Tunnecliffe? With an ‘e’, or without? What was the “correct” surname?

My last lot of assignments for IHGS were all centred around surnames, and since we could pick a couple of our own family names to look at, I chose Tunnecliffe as one of them.

Tunnecliffe is actually a variant of the more common TUNNICLIFF(E). Reaney1, Titford2 and Hanks & Hodges3 agree that it is a habitational surname, taken from Tonacliffe in Lancashire, which was recorded in 1246 in the Lancaster Assizes as “Tunwal(e)clif”, from OE tun enclosure, settlement + wœll(a) spring, stream, + clif bank, slope, so ‘enclosure on the banks of a stream’.

Both Reaney and Hanks & Hodges give the variants of TUNNICLIFFE as: TUNNICLIFF, DUNNICLIFF, DUNNICLIFFE. The interchanging of T and D is not unusual in surnames, so the variants are not unexpected. Interestingly, there appear to be no variants of the name where the -CLIFF(E) suffix has developed into a -LEY ending, as has happened to a number of other surnames.

As with many other habitational names, the surname has become more common where an inhabitant from that place has moved or travelled away from his immediate area, which helps explain why the surname is more prevalent in a neighbouring county, rather than in the county where the place is actually located. Titford noted the name is mostly found now in Staffordshire, where I have traced back my family back to a Robert TUNNICLIFFE, whose son Edward was buried in 1821 at St Michael’s Rocester with the surname TUNNECLIFF inscribed on his gravestone. This variant spelling continued with all of Edward’s descendants researched so far, though in modern usage an E was  usually tacked on to the end.

For our assignment, we were asked to look at death registrations in England & Wales from July 1837 to December 1851 and plot the surname’s distribution. When searching FreeBMD, I wanted to look for all instances of TUNNICLIFF(E) and DUNNICLIFF(E), including any variant and deviant spellings. To cover as many alternate spellings as possible within the confines of FreeBMD’s limits, I used the search strings: tu*n*cl*f* and du*n*cl*f. I also searched using different first vowels to pick up any stray entries, and found only one (TENNECLIFF).

The variants and deviants found are listed in the table below. The dominant variants are clear to see, although it is obvious that the DUNNICLIFF(E) variant is far less common than TUNNICLIFF(E).

Death registrations in England & Wales 1837-1851
Tunnicliff(e) Deaths Dunnicliff(e) Deaths
Tunnicliff 206 Dunnicliff 44
Tunnicliffe 110 Dunnicliffe 9
Tunnacliffe 12 Dunicliff 6
Tunnacliff 11 Duncliffe 4
Tunnecliff 11 Dunicliffe 2
Tunncliff 8 Dunnecliffe 2
Tunnercliffe 6 Dunacliff 1
Tunecliff 5 Duncliff 1
Tunicliff 5 Dunnacliffe 1
Tunicliffe 5 Dunnecliff 1
Tunacliff 4 Dunneclift 1
Tunacliffe 4
Tunitcliffe 4
Tunecliffe 2
Tunincliffe 2
Tunnecliffe 2
Tunnycliff 2
Tunaclif 1
Tunercliffe 1
Tunnaclif 1
Tunnicleffe 1
Tunniclift 1
Tennecliff 1
Total 405 72

So where are all these Tunnicliffes and Dunnicliffes? From the death registration data, I mapped their distribution across England and Wales:Tunnicliffe and variants - death registrations in England & Wales 1837-1851As to be expected, the surname is mostly found in Staffordshire, and surrounding counties. Internal migration for work may have resulted in the instances found further south. Indeed, most of those counties are connected to the coast, which could suggest maritime or trading occupations.

I also wanted to look at whether there was a regional difference in the distribution of TUNNICLIFF(E) compared to DUNNICLIFF(E). Was there one point of origin for this variant, and would it be apparent from mid-19th century records?

Tunnicliffe and Dunnicliffe - comparison of death registrations in England & Wales 1837-1851The Dunnicliff(e) variant was more concentrated in Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Perhaps this was where the variant originated? However, it does appear in the South East as well, perhaps from an earlier migration of a TUNNICLIFFE family where the spelling changed, or a DUNNICLIFFE family moving recently south.

Edward Tunnecliff’s great grandson George emigrated to New Zealand in 1857 and brought with him the TUNNECLIFF(E) variant, which has now unfortunately died out there. It currently only found in very small numbers in the United Kingdom and the United States4.

  1. Reaney, P.H, A Dictionary of British Surnames, 2nd edition, ed. Wilson, R.M. Routledge and Kegan Paul (London: 1983).
  2. Titford, John, Penguin Dictionary of British Surnames, Penguin Group (London: 2009).
  3. Hanks, Patrick & Hodges, Flavia, A Dictionary of Surnames, Oxford University Press (Oxford: 2004).
  4. Public Profiler, World Family Names Profiler (www.worldnames.publicprofiler.org/ : accessed Sep 2014).

Edward George Tunnecliff ~ an ANZAC all the same

Edward Tunnecliff (my first cousin thrice removed) was born in New Plymouth on 9th May 1886, the eldest son of George Tunnecliff (Jnr) and Alice Kine. He was living in Dover Road, Okato, with his brother Leonard, and farming land in Tataraimaka, when he was conscripted into the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Reserve in 1916. This First Division was made up of men between the ages of 20 and 45, who were British subjects, and either unmarried, or with no dependent children.

On his attestation on 18th September 1916, Edward was 30 years and 3 months old, 5 feet 7 1/2 inches in height, and weighing 158 pounds. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair mixed with grey. He was passed as fit, and a note made that his teeth “requires attention”.

He was posted to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, B Company, for training at Trentham Military Camp. Within 26 days he was dead.

Overlooking the "Reinforcement" Military Camp at Trentham, in 1915

Overlooking the “Reinforcement” Military Camp at Trentham, 1915. Ref: 1/2-035323-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22693340

Trentham Camp, near Wellington, was built to house and train two thousand soldiers for World War 1. Eventual numbers reached more than 7000, and the damp, crowded accommodation saw a growing number of soliders struck down with respiratory ailments. The first few cases of measles in November 1914, escalated into an epidemic, with the camp registering over a thousand cases by the middle of 1915.

Wellington Hospital filled up with infected soldiers, and a nearby old fever hospital was taken over. Soon, this too was overflowing, and some kind of accommodation was required for those soldiers not quite sick enough for hospital, but still requiring a period of isolation before rejoining their unit. A residential home close to Trentham was offered by its owner Mr C.J. Izard for accommodating up to 25 soldiers1. After a storm demolished one of the camp’s “measles marquees”, Messrs Levin and Co. offered a large three-storied store at Kaiwarra, free of charge to the Health Department, for hospital purposes2.

Provision has been made at Kaiwarra for the recreation of the convalescents, and, as announced elsewhere, a billiard table has already been given them, but people anxious to make the isolation of the soldiers less tedious can yet find scope for their generosity. All kinds of games, such as deck-quoits, also books and magazines, will be received with gratitude.
Evening Post, 17 Jun 1915, “MEASLES EPIDEMIC”3

The general public rallied to help support the sick soldiers. Around the country, the newspapers were filled with articles and letters to the editors decrying the appalling conditions at Trentham.

World War I soldiers outside tents at Trentham Miltary camp, Upper Hutt, Wellington

World War I soldiers outside tents at Trentham Miltary camp, Upper Hutt, Wellington, 1914. Ref: 1/1-017536-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23074704

TRENTHAM HOSPITALS

Sir, – I feel it is my duty to let the people of Auckland know the condition of the soliders at Trentham as regards medical situation. The outside public know nothing of how the medical portion of this camp is mismanaged and neglected. There are at the present time over 600 cases in the hospital at Wellington, mostly measles or serious chest and lung complaints. The accommodation there is shockingly inadequate. Measles are sweeping through these long huts with great rapidity. The following is the monotonous routine:- A man feels ill and his chest is one mass of measles. The orderly corporal takes him, together with 10 to 12 others, down to the medical tent at 8.15am. Outside this small marquee the whole of the sick men from all the camp must wait. No matter what the weather is, no matter how ill they are, there they must stand, in mud often over their boot-tops, until their turn comes to see the doctor. I have myself seen men waiting thus in pouring rain for two whole hours. Worse than this, I have seen them faint with sheer exhaustion at such a trying ordeal. The invariable remedy, no matter what the complaint, is two pills, plus “excused from duties for the rest of the day,” or in the case of measles they are hurriedly rushed off to a hospital in Wellington. There they remain for three or four days until the infectious stage is over, and back to camp they are bundled again, weak and ill – to hang about on “light duties for a week.”
Yesterday (Friday, June 26) 650 men “reported sick” and some of them had to stand outside in the rain from 8.15am until after 11am. On Wednesday there was no doctor in attendance at all, and after a two hours’ wait the unfortunate men were forced to return. Three men died of measles last week, and there will be many more ere the winters is out unless the medical side of so large a camp is properly managed. In every tent and hut sick men are lying – some in high fevers, and all with wet coats and clothes hanging around, and some with wet clothes actually on their sick bodies. They report sick and are sent back again. The hospitals in Wellington are taxed to the utmost, and can take no more. The people of New Zealand, as long ago as last February, subscribed a more than generous amount for a permanent base hospital here in camp. Although the matter is of much urgency, and all these months have gone by, we are absolutely without a hospital except two ordinary sized marquees, holding not more than 20 beds. The public will be told that their hospital is “in course of erection.” It is, and in another two or, perhaps, three years it will be ready. Meanwhile we are pegging along in the utmost discomfiture, and God help the unfortunate who get ill! The camp authorities certainly will not.
A TRENTHAM SOLIDER.
New Zealand Herald, 29 June 1915 “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR”4

Eventually, after a visit to the camp from Prime Minister William Massey, the decision was made to relocate the majority of the soldiers in July 1915, and additional training camps were established at Waikanae and Palmerston North. Around 1300 soldiers stayed at Trentham.

The Report of the Trentham Camp Commission5 tabled in the House of Representatives on 27th August 1915, found that several causes had contributed to the spread of sickness:

  • aggregation of so many men in a confined space, first in tents and then in larger groups in huts, often in wet clothes
  • bringing into an already infected camp of large numbers of fresh troops
  • wetness of the ground because of inefficient surface drainage
  • no provision for drying clothes and boots
  • deficiencies in the hutment design, and their overcrowding
  • unnecessary exposure during sick parades, causing fatigue
  • inadequate provision for dealing with a rapidly increasing number of sick
  • the specially infectious character of the diseases
  • lack of sanitation

Due care and efficient measures were not always taken to prevent or minimise sickness or mortality, and there was no efficient system for the treatment of the sick, and no hospital accommmodation at the camp.

Testimony was given “as to the uncomplaining patience with which the sick men and the men generally faced the conditions arising not only from their ailments but from the inclement weather and the discomforts that ensued“.6

Later newspaper reports expounded the new measures that were being implemented, including the provision of a permanent camp hospital, to ensure the health of soldiers at Trentham. Unfortunately, cases of measles continued to appear, though the peak of the epidemic had passed. The following year, Edward Tunnecliff began his training at Trentham on 19th September. Just eight days later, he was admitted to the camp hospital, where he died on 14th October at 11pm. The cause of death was measles.

I’m not sure what would be worse for a parent – knowing your child had died needlessly in a local military hospital, and having to bury him less than a month after he’d left home; or knowing he’d died violently, in a battle on foreign soil, with possibly no known grave.

Edward takes his place on the New Zealand Honour Roll, along with 504 others who died while in training. He is buried at Te Henui cemetery, New Plymouth, alongside his parents.

Grave of Private Edward George Tunnecliff (1886-1916), Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth, NZ

Grave of Private Edward George Tunnecliff (1886-1916), Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth, NZ (Image: NZ War Graves Project)7

 

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

This post is my contribution to the 2014 Trans-Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge.

  1. Evening Post, vol LXXXIX, issue 135, 9 June 1915, page 8; digitised version, PapersPast (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 22 April 2014).
  2. Evening Post, vol LXXXIX, issue 140, 15 June 1915, page 8; digitised version, PapersPast (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 22 April 2014).
  3. Evening Post, vol LXXXIX, issue 142, 17 Jun 1915, page 8; digitised version, PapersPast (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 22 April 2014).
  4. “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR”, New Zealand Herald, volume LII, issue 15956, 29 June 1915page 10; digitised version, PapersPast (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 22 April 2014).
  5. “TRENTHAM CAMP COMMISSION’S REPORT”, Dominion, vol 8, issue 2552, 28 August 1915, page 6; digitised version, PapersPast (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 22 April 2014).
  6. Ibid.
  7. New Zealand War Graves Project, in association with AucklandMuseum.com, digital image, (http://www.nzwargraves.org.nz/casualties/edward-george-tunnecliff : accessed 24 April 2014).

Sources:

Archives NZ. “TUNNECLIFF, Edward George – WW1 33480 – Army : Military Personnel File”; digitised file, Archway (http://www.archway.archives.govt.nz/ : accessed 05 Nov 2010).

Kohn, George Childs. “New Zealand measles epidemics, 1915–1916 and 1938.” Encyclopedia of Plague and Pestilence, Third Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. (http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE53&iPin=ENPP469&SingleRecord=True : accessed 21 April 2014).

Ancestry.com.New Zealand Army WWI Reserve Rolls, 1916-1917 [database on-line] (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 22 April 2014); New Zealand Expeditionary Force Reserve – 1916-1919. Microfiche 1-23.

Ancestry.com. New Zealand Army WWI Roll of Honour, 1914-1919 [database on-line] (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 22 April 2014); The Great War 1914-1918, New Zealand Expeditionary Force Roll of Honour. Microfiche, 3 rolls.

George & Elizabeth Tunnecliff, Grave 56 ~ Tombstone Tuesday

I was recently contacted by John Pickering, graveyard manager of St Mary’s Cathedral in New Plymouth (Taranaki, New Zealand). He is spearheading a project to repair all the old gravestones in the churchyard, and is trying to contact descendants of those buried, to help fund the repairs. Council funds are being applied for where there are no known descendants.

My great great great grandparents George Tunnecliff(e) and his wife Elizabeth Barber are buried in Grave 56 in the churchyard, and their gravestone is one of a number that require some TLC.

Gravestone of George & Elizabeth Tunnecliff(e), St Mary's, New Plymouth, NZ

Gravestone of George & Elizabeth Tunnecliff, St Mary’s churchyard, New Plymouth, NZ (Image: John Pickering)

The inscription on the headstone reads:

In loving memory of George Tunnecliff died 13 February 1912 aged 80 years also Elizabeth Tunnecliff died 24 February 1916 aged 86 . At rest.

John has written to a couple of descendants so far and outlined the work that is needed to repair the grave, and the costs involved. The concrete top is broken and the north side wall has fallen away, and the headstone itself requires a professional clean and application of lichen inhibitor. Because the churchyard has been designated a Category 1 historical site, only registered memorial masons can carry out the repairs.

The Dean of the Cathedral comments:
We believe that the churchyard should be a place of pride for the city and a fitting memorial to those buried there. Our plan is to restore every headstone, whilst being true to its age and style. There is much research that a well-kept and loved churchyard is far less subject to vandalism. In recent years we have seen no vandalism whatsoever, and we aim for that to continue.

All told, the concrete repair work and the headstone cleaning for George & Elizabeth’s grave will amount to around $600. Descendants are being asked to contribute towards the cost, and obviously the more of us that can chip in, the better!

So, are you connected to the family? Would you like to help?

There are several ways to donate a few dollars, but to make it easier, I’ve set up a GiveALittle fundraising page and donations go straight to the The Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary for the restoration of Grave 56.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to share more about George and Elizabeth, their lives in England and New Zealand, as well as their children and grandchildren.

Further reading: Isobel Ewing, New Plymouth Graves Need Work, Taranaki Daily News online, 20 May 2013.

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

A story in a tattoo ~ Military Monday

Alexander Wright (1891-1956)

Alexander Wright (1891-1956)

It’s funny the things you overlook when you first read a document. Or even on the second or third time. I was in the middle of assignment work for my course with the IHGS, focusing on military records, and so had been going over what records and notes I had for my great grandfather, Alexander Wright, who fought at Gallipoli during World War I. He was one of the lucky ones who made it back home. And I’m lucky that he “left” the Royal Irish Fusiliers and joined up with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force at the outbreak of war, as that means his service record survives!

Upon reading over his service record, something in his physical description suddenly jumped out at me. The description of his tattoo. I had skimmed over it before and had idly wondered what the “clasped hands” might signify, but it was only when re-reading it again recently, that I noticed the name that he had tattooed on his right arm: H. Cavender. And I suddenly remembered that I had seen that name before, in a census return.

Description of Alexander Wright on Enlistment (NZEF service record 10/800)

Description of Alexander Wright on Enlistment (NZEF service record 10/800)1

Alexander’s mother Mary Jane, brother Joseph and stepfather John Carroll were living in Deptford in 1911, at 37 Prince Street2. Enumerated there at the time of the census were:

John Carroll Head 62 married General Labourer
Mary Jane Carroll Wife 55 married Household work
Joseph Wright Son 24 single Telegraph Clerk
George Archer Boarder 27 single Foundry Worker
Hilda Cavender Boarder 17 single Tea Factory
Bridget Carroll Visitor 30 single Nurse St Pancras Infirmary
Cecelia Stokes Visitor 26 single Nurse Children’s Infirmary

Hilda was a boarder with the Carroll family in 1911, maybe because it was close to where she worked. There is a building called the Tea Factory in nearby Brockley, which was built in the 1940s to replace the old warehouse that had been bombed during World War II3.

In the 1901 census, Hilda was living with her parents Alexander and Mary at 354 Evelyn Street in Deptford4. By 1911, her father and stepmother were living in 36 Woodpecker Road5, about 16 minutes walk away from the Carrolls (thanks Google maps!). Maybe Hilda didn’t get on with her stepmother?

And then I remembered where I’d also seen the name Hilda – in a postcard to Alexander from his sister Mollie (Mary Freeth).

Postcard from Mary Freeth to Alexander Wright, probably early 1910s

Postcard from Mary Freeth to Alexander Wright, probable date 10 Mar 1908

“… How are you getting on? also Hilda. I hope she is well – give her my love…”6

Sounds like Alexander and Hilda might have been sweethearts. So what happened?

All sorts of scenarios have run through my head. Alexander deserted from the Royal Irish Fusiliers at some point after this and before 1914, when he mysteriously turns up in New Zealand, and enlists in the NZEF. Did he run away because he was miserable with Army life, or perhaps Hilda had taken up with someone else? Perhaps she became pregnant and he couldn’t handle the responsibility? His mother Mary Jane was from a military family and it would have been so hard for him to face her after deserting – what could possibly have made him do it?

Looking again at Alexander’s attestation form, on his Military History Sheet, it asks for his “Intended place of residence on discharge” and Alexander has stated “London”. So, he meant to go back.

Did Hilda wait for him?

In the June quarter of 1916, a Hilda Cavender married William H. Danson in Wandsworth7.

Meanwhile, Alexander had been wounded at Gallipoli and was transported back to New Zealand, being discharged from the NZEF on 21 May 1916 as medically unfit1. He married Elsie Nunns on 7 June 1917.

Military Monday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. Archives NZ, “WRIGHT, Alexander – WW1 10/800 – Army”; digital image, Archway (http://www.archway.archives.govt.nz/ViewFullItem.do?code=22022458 : accessed 26 Nov 2010)
  2. “1911 England Census, John Carroll (age 62) household, St Nicholas Deptford, London,” digital image, FindMyPast, (http://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed 14 Apr 2011), PRO RG14/2640, Greenwich registration district, Deptford East sub-registration district, ED 28, household 32, 02 Apr 1911.
  3. “The Tea Factory”, DPS Property Holdings, http://www.dpsproperty.com/gallerydetails.php?galId=3 : accessed May 2013.
  4. “1901 England Census, Alexander Cavender (age 33) household, Deptford St Paul, London,” digital image, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 14 Jun 2013), citing PRO RG13/524, folio 79, p8, Greenwich registration district, Deptford North sub-registration district, ED 8, household 44, 31 Mar 1901.
  5. “1911 England Census, Alexander Cavender (age 43) household, Deptford St Paul, London,” digital image, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 14 Jun 2013), PRO RG14/2608, Greenwich registration district, Deptford North sub-registration district, ED 14, household 62, 02 Apr 1911.
  6. Postcard addressed to Alec Wright, sent by Mary Freeth, dated 10 Mar 1908(?); digital image, original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], granddaughter of A. Wright.
  7. “England & Wales, FreeBMD Index: 1837-1983,” database, FreeBMD (http://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl : accessed 2013), marriage entry for William H. Danson and Hilda F. Cavender; Jun 1916 [quarter] Wandsworth 1d [vol] 1462 [page].

Picture Palace, Helmia Camp ~ Military Monday

Poster for entertainments at the Picture Palace, Helmia Camp, Cairo - 1915

Poster for entertainments at the Picture Palace, Helmia Camp, Cairo – April 1915

This is a poster advertising entertainment at Helmia Camp in Egypt, and was amongst a collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, and postcards, all belonging to my great grandfather Alexander Wright. It shows he was a bugler (and could sing!), and places him in Cairo on April 19th, 1915: the date of the entertainment starts on a Monday in April, either the 19th or 29th. The only dates between 1915 and 1917 (when he was back in New Zealand) that this occurs is April 19, 1915. (www.dayoftheweek.org)

Military Monday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

For Acts of Gallantry in the Field ~ Sgt P.M. Gaffaney M.M.

I’m not related to any famous generals or admirals (that I know of!), but I am immensely proud of those servicemen in my family who fought with courage and fortitude in their own way, and I honour one of them this ANZAC Day.

Sgt Peter Gaffaney M.M. (1893-1918)

Sgt Peter Gaffaney M.M. (1893-1918)

My (first, thrice removed) cousin Peter has appeared in a few posts now on this blog, and no, there was no happy ending for him.  Yet, I wanted to know about his Military Medal, and why it was awarded to him.  No published accounts mention his name or deeds, so I looked to his battalion and its account of the war in its diaries.

2nd Battalion NZRB - War Diary, March 1918

2nd Battalion NZRB – War Diary, March 1918 (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)

On March 9th, 1918, Sgt Peter Gaffaney rejoined the 2nd Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (NZRB), after two weeks’ leave in the UK. On that day the battalion had route-marched from Houlle (France) to Watten, and then travelled by rail to Ypres, so that may be where he joined up with them, before marching to Forestor Camp.

After moving to Lankhof Farm camp six days later, the battalion were then moved on to Halifax camp at short notice on March 21st, being fitted out and organised for active operations.

By March 22nd the NZRB had received orders to get ready to move south at three hours’ notice, along with other Brigades in the NZ Divison.

On March 23rd, instructions were issued for the move by rail the following day.

2nd Battalion NZRB - War Diary, March 1918

2nd Battalion NZRB – War Diary, March 1918 (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)

March 24th
Battn route-marched to HOPOUTRE Siding & entrained there at 11.15pm for an unknown destination

March 25th-26th
Detrained at AMIENS at about 1pm 25th and bivouacked in public gardens. All surplus gear was stored and Battalion was equipped in Battle order.

…At midnight Battn proceeded by motor lorries to PONT NOYELLES arriving there at 2am 26th. Started marching forward at 2.30am via FRAUVILLERS BAIZIEUX WARLOY to HEDAUVILLE arriving there 7am after a hard dusty march. The Battn. bivouacked in a paddock in the village & the men enjoyed a hot meal and rest till midday. At 1pm marched on to MAILLY MAILLET at which village orders were received for an attack to be made by the Battn.

A large gap existed in our line at this time extending roughly from HAMEL to PUISIEUX and only two Battns of the Division had arrived – 1st CANTERBURY and 1st Battn N.Z.R.B. These Battns were astride the MAILLY MAILLET-SERRE Road – 1st CANTERBURY on right, 1st N.Z.R.B. on left in line with the windmill at Q.1.d (57.d) At this time certain batteries were evacuating MAILLY MAILLET and situation was obscure – no shelling and no sign of enemy excepting a little m.g.[machine gun] fire and sniping.

New Zealand soldiers around a billy in a strong post, near Mailly-Maillet, France, during World War I.

New Zealand soldiers around a billy in a strong post, near Mailly-Maillet, France, during World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013081-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22780897

1st AUCKLAND arrived in village about same time and about 13 tanks were reported in neighbourhood of COLINCAMPS. Objective given Battn was SERRE Village north along road SERHEB to K.23. Central. 1st AUCKLAND K.35.a to SERRE Village. Four VICKERS guns were allotted to Battalion and no artillery support beyond the assistance of a 4.5 Battery in the orchard behind windmill. This Battery came into action at 5pm.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I.

The New Zealand batteries firing at Germans near Mailly-Maillet, France. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013075-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23081425

..The attack was launched from the line of the two Battns holding the SERRE Road at 5.30pm. We advanced on the left of road and 1st AUCKLAND on right – soon to in front. These two lines extended on a two Coy. frontage, balance of two Coys in artillery formation. ‘C’ Coy was on right – ‘D’ Coy on left – and ‘B’ Coy. acting as a left flank guard. All went well until the line of the road Sugar Refinery – EUSTON was reached, when m.g. fire from direction of LA SIGNY Farm and Right flank about One Tree Hill became so heavy that the advance ceased, – also partly because AUCKLAND were not so far forward on the right and the left flank was not in a favourable state for pushing on. 1st AUCKLAND reported being held up at 6.45pm.

2nd Battalion NZRB War Diary March 1918 - APPENDIX A

2nd Battalion NZRB War Diary March 1918 – APPENDIX A (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London). Larger version

At this time a gap existed between ‘D’ and ‘B’ Coys – ‘B’ Coy being refused along the EUSTON – COLINCAMPS Road (APPENDIX – SKETCH ‘A’). In the dusk a connection was made with ‘B’ Coy and line was joined up & ‘B’ Coy flank was left to help defend COLINCAMPS as a report was received stating that parties of the enemy were marching on that place. The enemy had been in HEBUTERNE and COLINCAMPS early in the day but were driven out at 11am by the tanks previously mentioned, but just how far we did not know, nor how far the enemy had crept back when the tanks retired before 3pm.

The Battn. started digging in at 6.45pm. At 7pm 1st AUCKLAND came forward and took up a continuation of our line to the Right. During the latter stages of the attack small parties on Huns using m.gs up to the last minute were met with about EUSTON and K.33.a.33. Three light m.gs and one heavy were captured by us and 37 prisoners taken. ‘B’ Coy took two guns and ‘C’ Coy two guns.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013100-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22691198

As far as is known 10 enemy were killed and 6 wounded but the advance was too rapid to enable him to get any stretcher cases away. About 20 to 30 enemy retired to this next line – WATERLOO BRIDGE Hedge, but owing to the dark it is hard to state exactly how many.

Our casualties were 9 killed and 35 wounded. All but two were caused by mg. fire – the two by shell fire as the enemy has at this time practically no artillery and it is estimated that he has only two guns on the front which kept firing on the large dump at K.33.a.00,00. For acts of gallantry & good work 3 O/R [Other Ranks] were recommended for decoration. (SEE APPENDIX ‘B’)

March 27th
The night of 26/27 was spent in digging in and was very quiet and at 5am the Battn was relieved successfully by 2nd Bn. AUCKLAND Regiment and returned to support of 1st Brigade at MAILLY MAILLET.

2nd Battalion NZRB, War Diary March 1918 APPENDIX B

2nd Battalion NZRB, War Diary March 1918 APPENDIX B (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)

APPENDIX B

Recommendation for Awards

24/431 Sgt Peter Michael GAFFANEY

During the advance B Coy, to which this sergeant belonged, had considerable difficulty in getting forward owing to the heavy mac[hine] gun fire. Platoons got mixed and disorganised and several were wounded. Gaffaney disregarding danger moved along platoon, reorganised his sections, and led them forward rushes. A German machine gun about 50 yds in fron[t] of him was causing much trouble. He went forward w[ith] a few men and rushed it, capturing the gun and the prisoners.
Whilst the consolidation was proceeding an enemy was near on the exposed left flank. Sgt Gaffaney immediately hastened a Lewis Gun forward, & secured the position.
For his initiative and gallantry he was recommended for the DCM.

Peter was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for his actions on March 26th, 1918.  He was 24 years old when he died on April 5th, 1918, and is buried at Louvencourt Military Cemetery, Somme, France.

I wonder if any of Peter’s family visited his grave?  Perhaps the brother listed as his next-of-kin, Francis,  a captain in the Wellington Infantry Regiment.  Did he ever see his brother during their time fighting on the other side of the world? How would it feel to have your son, brother, uncle, cousin, buried so far far away? Is there anyone left now to mourn him?

Yes, there is.

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1892-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Further reading:
Austin, Lieut-Col W. S., “Part 2 – The New Zealand Rifle Brigade into the Gap“, The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, L.T. Watkins Ltd (Wellington: 1924), digitised by New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Stewart, Col. H., “Chapter IX – The German Offensive, 1918“, The New Zealand Division 1916-1919: A Popular History based on Official Records, Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd (Auckland: 1921), digitised by New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

O’Connor, Paul, “The German Offensive March 1918“, From Papanui to Passchendaele,  (http://www.pap-to-pass.org/ : accessed 23 Apr 2013).

Posted as part of the 2013 Trans Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge.

NB. Any errors in transcription or interpretation are all mine.

In celebration of Marriage ~ Wedding Wednesday

A post to commemorate the passing of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill in New Zealand today, which ensures that all people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity will have the opportunity to marry if they so choose (and in doing so, will create some interesting scenarios for us family historians!).

The wedding of William Hally and Margaret Gaffaney, 20 November 1900.  This photo was taken in front of Belper House, the home of Margaret's parents, Michael and Margaret.

The wedding of William Hally and Margaret Gaffaney, 20 November 1900. This photo was taken in front of Belper House, the home of Margaret’s parents, Michael and Margaret, in Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ.  (Larger version 1.4Mb)

Wedding Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

In Remembrance on this Day ~ Arohanui, Peter

95 years ago today, Peter Michael Gaffaney was wounded in action during a German offensive at the Somme. He died en route to hospital from shell wounds to the face and neck.

After our visit to Ypres, we took a three hour detour through France to visit his grave site at Louvencourt Military Cemetery.

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1892-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Louvencourt Military Cemetery - April 2013

Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France – April 2013

The cemetery, containing 230 graves, is beautifully kept by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and there is a register of those buried there, and a visitors book you can sign.

Louvencourt Military Cemetery - April 2013

Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France – April 2013

 

To Flanders Fields

Yesterday I posted a photo of my cousin (first, thrice removed), Peter Michael Gaffaney.  I’ve shown the image before, in a post commemorating ANZAC Day – Australia and New Zealand’s “Remembrance Day”, on April 25th.

In that previous post, I gave some of the information I had gleaned from Peter’s service record.  However, the details of his time fighting on the Western Front during the Great War are merely a collection of dates and places and not much else, and I’ve often wondered about what happened out there, what battles he was involved in, what it was actually like for him and his comrades in the NZ Rifle Brigade.  I’ll never come close to really understanding, but a glimpse would be a start.

So, when a trip to visit friends in Belgium at Easter was in the offing, I decided to organise a little detour.  We’re planning to stop for one night in Ieper/Ypres, and will hopefully get time to visit both the Memorial Museum Passeschendaele 1917 and In Flanders Field Museum, and attend the Last Post at Menin Gate.  I won’t get to see everything that I’d like on this fleeting visit, but I guess that’ll give me a good excuse to go back!

 

A fallen hero ~ Wordless Wednesday

Peter Michael Gaffaney (on left)

Peter Michael Gaffaney (on left)

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) is my first cousin, three times removed.

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.