Tag Archives: Tunnecliff

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.

What, June already? ~ (Very Un) Sorting Saturday

I don’t seem to be doing very well on blog posting lately!  I’d love to say that it’s because I’ve been concentrating on my IHGS assignment work, but that’d be a big fat lie.  There has been some family history research going on though, however not much filing and recording.

Most of the research I’ve been doing has involved travelling.  Back in April I managed a quick whizz around some villages in Staffordshire where my Tunnecliff(e) ancestor George may be from.  I had some helpful information from Tunnecliff descendents in Australia, and I’m hoping I can eventually prove a link to this particular Tunnecliff family.

Last week I was up in Scotland, chasing up my Burke and Philp ancestors, in Perth and Fife respectively.  With three kids in tow, it was a whistlestop tour of a few key places, but I did manage 30 minutes research at the A.K. Bell Library in Perth, poring over burial registers and valuation rolls.  I could have spent days in there!

A confession:  my record-keeping is C-R-A-P-O-L-A.  Things I thought I’d entered into Reunion are nowhere to be found.  Yup, still stuck somewhere in one of the fifty gazillion notebooks I write everything into.  *sigh*  I really notice how bad things are when trying to gather together info for a research trip, or attempting to answer an email from a distant relative (I will be in touch soon, I promise, once I’ve sorted out my notes!)

On a more positive (sorting) note, I’ve just cleaned out my RSS feed reader and drastically cut my blog subscriptions down to about thirty blogs – in the hope I’ll actually get to read all of them.  I think that’s about the only “housekeeping” I’ve done lately!

 

Off to Staffordshire, so no ~ Sorting Saturday

We’re taking the kids off to a theme park in Staffordshire.  I am hoping we’ll get up there in time tomorrow to visit the Black Country Living Museum, but it depends on how organised we are in the morning (ie. what time we leave!)

Today I’ve been trying to follow up a Staffordshire ancestor.  Unfortunately, all I know is that he was born around 1831 in Staffordshire.   Nothing else.  I’ve been checking census records, determining which George Tunn[e|i]cliff[e] was born around the right time, and then disappeared off the face of the earth, according to the England census records, and emigrated to New Zealand in 1857.

I have one likely suspect, born in Checkley, Staffordshire.  I wonder if I can wangle a little detour there?

NZ Research plan – review

Auckland Archives office

  • Probate file for Elsie Adelaide Nunns – 1985 (great grandmother)
  • Customs Inwards letter – The High Commissioner for New Zealand, London – Alexander Wright – passenger to Auckland per “Rimutaka” leaving London 12 June 1908 (possibly great grandfather)

I decided not to visit the Auckland Archives in the end. My great grandmother I knew well enough that I didn’t think her will would contain too many surprises,  and the second item may not be connected to my family at all. These will keep till I have more time.

Wellington Archives office

  • Probate file for Patrick James O’Rourke – 1908 (great great uncle)
  • Probate file for George Tunnecliff – 1912 (great great great grandfather)
  • Probate file for Alice Tunnecliff – 1919 great great great uncle’s wife)
  • Probate file for Henry Richard Florey – 1916 (great great grandfather)
  • Probate file for Elizabeth Ann Florey – 1922 (great great grandfather’s wife)
  • Probate file for Michael McGonnell – 1929 (great great grandfather)
  • Probate file for George Tunnecliff – 1942 (great great great uncle)

Viewed and photographed all these files, apart from the one of the ones I most wanted to see, Henry Richard Florey’s probate file. It wasn’t available as it had been requested by someone else! I can order a copy to be made for $20, which I think I’ll do.

  • Coroners Inquest Report for Henry (Harry) Florey (great great grandfather)
  • Coroners Inquest Report for Annie Florey (great great grandmother)

Wasn’t sure if these existed, and a very lovely staff member helped me locate both. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to enlarge the microfilm image to A4 size on the machine connected to the printer, and I didn’t have a USB drive to save the images using the other machines. So, I ended up printing A5 size images, which are incredibly hard to read. It wasn’t till afterwards that I realised I could have used the memory card in my camera…. *sigh* Anyway, I know they’re there now, and I can always go back when I’m next in town. In the meantime, I can try and transcribe from the printouts.

National Library, Wellington

  • NZ Tablet – obituary for Bartholomew O’Rourke – 1923 (great great grandfather)
  • NZ Tablet – obituary for Bridget Power O’Rourke – 1914 (great great grandmother)

The National Library is in a state of turmoil at the moment, with its collections located all over the place while they are redeveloping their main building on Molesworth  Street. The Library does hold issues of the NZ Tablet on microfilm for the years I’m interested in, but the films were not at the Reading Room on 77 Thorndon Quay.  The Library building reopens in 2012, so I might try and get my father to investigate then.

Other

  • Locate cassette tape of Lallie Coppinger’s interview (first cousin, twice removed)

Found!!!!!! And in the sixth box I checked of over 60 in our storage unit. I only had time to listen to a few minutes of the tape at my parents’ place, and it sounds great, can’t wait to listen to it all. Need to locate a cassette player first.

  • Take photograph of St Mary of the Angels church, Wellington – grandparents’ wedding venue

Done!

  • Remuera cemetery, Auckland – locate burial plot for Annie Florey

After asking on the Trade Me genealogy forum about Remuera cemeteries, I emailed St Mark’s Church to check if they had any records of Annie Florey being buried there. I received a reply very promptly, but unfortunately there is no record of her burial there. With time tight in Auckland, I decided to follow this up at a later date.

  • Take photographs of living relatives!

Done!

  • Identify as many people/places in photographs as possible in my father’s collection
  • Scan older photographs and documents in my father’s collection

I had planned to spend several evenings looking over old photographs and documents with my father, but there wasn’t enough time. I did, however, pull out a whole heap of things to scan – what a treasure trove there was stashed away! I think there is probably more packed away in boxes from when my parents moved house. I started scanning away, but realised what a mammoth task it was going to be (when I’d rather be sitting around chatting to my family), so I took a pile into the local Kodak shop and got them to copy them on to a DVD for me. My father had already had some borrowed photos copied there, so I got a copy of that DVD too. I now have a HUGE amount of work to do sorting them all out.

  • Collect information about paternal grandfather’s life for future assignment

Umm.. epic FAIL on this one. I’m hoping I’ll be able to do this over the phone and by email with my father.

I also met extended family at my grandmother’s funeral and at church one Sunday, though in both cases we weren’t able to chat for long. Was lovely to put some faces to names, though, and I hope to keep in contact with a couple of them by email.

Overall, I was pleased with what I managed to achieve, though I’m now seriously homesick and wanting to go back. Still, lots of research to be done this side of the world first!

NZ Research plan

Auckland Archives office

  • Probate file for Elsie Adelaide Nunns – 1985 (great grandmother)
  • Customs Inwards letter – The High Commissioner for New Zealand, London – Alexander Wright – passenger to Auckland per “Rimutaka” leaving London 12 June 1908 (possibly great grandfather)

Wellington Archives office

  • Probate file for Patrick James O’Rourke – 1908 (great great uncle)
  • Probate file for George Tunnecliff – 1912 (great great great grandfather)
  • Probate file for Alice Tunnecliff – 1919 great great great uncle’s wife)
  • Probate file for Henry Richard Florey – 1916 (great great grandfather)
  • Probate file for Elizabeth Ann Florey – 1922 (great great grandfather’s wife)
  • Probate file for Michael McGonnell – 1929 (great great grandfather)
  • Probate file for George Tunnecliff – 1942 (great great great uncle)
  • Coroners Inquest Report for Henry (Harry) Florey (great great grandfather)
  • Coroners Inquest Report for Annie Florey (great great grandmother)

National Library, Wellington

  • NZ Tablet – obituary for Bartholomew O’Rourke – 1923 (great great grandfather)
  • NZ Tablet – obituary for Bridget Power O’Rourke – 1914 (great great grandmother)

Other

  • Locate cassette tape of Lallie Coppinger’s interview (first cousin, twice removed)
  • Take photograph of St Mary of the Angels church, Wellington – grandparents’ wedding venue
  • Remuera cemetery, Auckland – locate burial plot for Annie Florey
  • Take photographs of living relatives!
  • Identify as many people/places in photographs as possible in my father’s collection
  • Scan older photographs and documents in my father’s collection
  • Collect information about paternal grandfather’s life for future assignment

I think this might be a bit ambitious, given that we’re only in New Zealand for three weeks, and it’s supposed to be a holiday for the whole family, and not just me! Reviewing the list, I’m not sure it’s worth going to the Auckland Archives office this trip, as I think the only time I’ll have to do it, will be just after a 26 hour flight with three kids. Yikes!

Two more sleeps and we’re off – can’t wait!