Leith Norma Morgan Interview
Today is 13th March 2017. I’m interviewing Leith Morgan, James Morgan’s wife. Leith, would you like to now tell us about your side of the story?
Right. I was born at the Bethany Home, Napier on March 24th 1945, and at that time my parents were farming at Blackburn, inland from Onga Onga. It was a small farm, there was no electricity out there. My mother had a wood-burning range, and Mrs Potts’ irons that she had to heat on the range to do the ironing. We had kerosene lamps for lighting, and washing was done in the copper. But life wasn’t easy – we certainly didn’t get to town once a week, or anything like it. Deliveries of bread and meat came up once or twice a week, and the mail came regularly. The only convenience that we had was a telephone.
We lived up there until I was about four. By then my sister Elizabeth had been born, and then we moved down to Crownthorpe to Keith Donald’s farm, where my father became the manager. I started school of course when we were at Crownthorpe, by correspondence. That didn’t work out very well for my mother or for me, so in the end I went to stay with my grandmother in Napier and went to Nelson Park School, and went home for the weekends.
The first house that we lived in at Crownthorpe was the shearers’ quarters, again with no electricity. And the bathroom was across the verandah – the laundry was in that room as well. A two bedroomed cottage was then built which we lived in, and of course that was much more convenient, particularly for my mother.
My brother Jack was born in 1952 while we were living at Crownthorpe. And we stayed there, and my sister and I were still going to school in Napier until I was about nine years old, and we moved to Braemar, my aunt and uncle’s farm between Waipukurau and Onga Onga.
Is that Pat Abernethy’s family farm?
Yes. Pat’s my cousin. [Chuckle] Her mother is my father’s sister. Yeah.
Anyway, we went to school at Onga [Onga] then, and in 1957 we had a year when the three of us were at Onga Onga School. I became dux of the school that year. The next year I went off to Napier Girls’ High School as a boarder, and while I was at Girls’ High in Napier my parents bought a farm at Raukawa, nearer Hastings.
At school in Napier I met some of the girls that I’d known at primary school at Nelson Park. That was quite interesting. Yeah, I came top of my class in the third and fourth forms, got School Certificate in the fifth form and Endorsed School Certificate in the sixth form. I played netball for the school A team as a Goal Attack, and represented Windsor House in tennis, and I was awarded drill stripes in the fourth and fifth forms. In my last year I was a school prefect and a hostel prefect.
August school holidays by the time we had the farm at Raukawa, were spent in the local docking team, going from farm to farm getting all the docking done … Dalys, and Jenkins, and we’d go to Teddy Barkers and up to John Irvings as well.
After leaving school I worked in the X-ray Department at Royston Hospital until the radiologist retired, then became a nurse aide at Royston for a while, and then had a season working in Wattie’s sorting peas and stacking frozen pea packets.
In 1963 I moved to Wellington to train as a radiographer at Wellington Hospital. I lived first at the YWCA in Brougham Street, and then some flats at Lawrence Street, Murphy Street and Rolleston Street. I qualified in 1965 and moved to Hastings to work at the Memorial Hospital.
In 1966 I joined the chorus of ‘Valley of Song’, and James was the director.
I then had the opportunity to be the sole radiographer in a private practice being established in Wellington by Dr John Kearney, my old anatomy lecturer, so off I went back to Wellington. James by now was visiting frequently and soon proposed marriage, so I moved back to Hastings and we were married on 29th April 1967 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Hastings.
And we started married life in the front flat at 511 East Queen Street. There were two flats there – Mark and Kay Morgan were in the back flat, and the flats were once the Morgan family home. I worked at L J Harvey’s china shop in Hastings for a while, until on January 6th 1970 our daughter Bronwyn was born, and we moved to 24 Deal Crescent Flaxmere. Hilary was born on 1st February 1972. In 1975 we all moved to 124 Flaxmere Avenue, and stayed there until 1990 when the house was sold to buy Waipari, our farm up the Glengarry Road. I bought 18 Ferguson Avenue, Westshore in December 1988, for use as a beach house. The family lived there after Flaxmere Avenue was sold, and we moved to Waipari in September 1994.
While we were in Flaxmere I started work as the advertising manager for the Flaxmere and Western Suburbs Gazette – which was established in 1979 – until it merged with the Te Mata Times in 1984, to become the Leader. James was editor of both publications and I worked at the Leader also, in advertising, until James became editor of the Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune in 1985.
I was on the committee of the Hastings Western sub-branch of Plunket for a number of years and became secretary there. I was also secretary for a year at Flaxmere Plunket. I played tennis at the Flaxmere Tennis Club and was secretary there, and junior coach. I was a member of the Flaxmere Community Centre Management Committee and Board of Trustees, and was secretary there until we left Flaxmere. I was a founding trustee of Opera Hawke’s Bay, established in 1987, and was on the committee until 1990.
We took over Waipari in 1991 on 27th April. At the time we were still living at the beach house at Westshore, and we stayed there until 1994 when we moved up to the farm. James was still working as editor of the Tribune, going in and out each day, and I stayed on the farm and helped the manager run the place, and did the books and things like that. I did all the accounts and James did all the computer work for the accounts.
We did a lot of work on the farm … scrub-cutting, putting fences in, subdividing paddocks, putting in new dams and fertilising each year, and really brought the farm up to a productive unit. We sold the farm in 2004, mainly because James had contracted Guillain-Barré Syndrome in 2002 and spent seven months in hospital, coming home in a wheelchair, which wasn’t a lot of fun. And because he was unable to do anything round the farm then – he couldn’t dig a hole or cut firewood or ride the motorbike or anything like that – so we decided to sell.
We moved down to Hastings to a flat in Cook Place … 831a Cook Place … and lived there for several months while our house was being built. And we moved in August 2005, so we’ve been here just over eleven years.
James’ Guillain-Barré Syndrome was pretty tough for everybody. He was in hospital as I said, for seven months and then came home in a wheelchair. We had to have special fittings put in the shower … rails that he could hang on to and a seat that he could sit on. The lazyboy was elevated so that he could get in and out of it. He sometimes had to be down at Physio at the hospital at nine o’clock, which meant we had to be up getting showered and dressed at seven o’clock; James then had to be showered and dressed and fed, and got from the wheelchair into the car, then the wheelchair had to be put in the car. Food had to be put in the car because he needed to eat little and often. We then had to drive forty-five minutes down to the hospital; reverse the process of getting him into the wheelchair and into the hospital by nine o’clock. So it was fairly busy.
After a while he managed to graduate to crutches and then to a walker, and then to walking sticks. The paralysis disappeared except for his abdominal muscles, which means he can’t lift his feet up and down. If he’s climbing stairs he really needs a rail to hang onto so that he can pull himself up, just because these abs don’t work. He recovered to the extent that he could walk again and drive the car. He couldn’t manage the manual vehicle so we have automatic vehicles now. But fortunately there is recovery with Guillain-Barré – it’s not like having a stroke, sometimes people don’t recover. At the time he went into hospital he could move his right arm, his left hand, and he could breathe and talk, and that was about it. So he’s made a pretty good recovery since then.
Now, our family – our daughter Bronwyn was born in 1970 on 6th January, followed by Hilary on 1st February 1972. Bronwyn was born while we were shifting from Hastings to Flaxmere, and Hilary was born while we were living in Flaxmere. Both girls were born at Memorial Hospital in Hastings and attended Flaxmere Primary School. We moved from Deal Crescent to Flaxmere Avenue in Bronwyn’s first year at primary school. The children then went on to Flaxmere Intermediate and to Karamu High School.
Bronwyn trained as a nurse at the EIT. When Bronwyn was thirteen she developed leukaemia, and after treatment went into remission in February, when she was fourteen. We’d been to Christchurch, Palmerston and Hastings for treatment. Yes, she then went on, finished her schooling and went to Polytech and graduated as a nurse. After graduating she couldn’t get a job; however she finally got a job in the Psychiatric Unit in Christchurch, then she moved up to the Psychiatric Unit in Palmerston North with a view to being able to get back to medical nursing up there. Unfortunately at that stage her leukaemia returned, so she spent several months in hospital in Palmerston and she died there on November 14th 1991.
Hilary finished school at Karamu and she went to the EIT at Taradale, and she trained in business studies. She worked in Wellington for a while at Ansett Air Freight, and then she decided to take off overseas, and toured briefly round Ireland, Scotland and England, and then got a job working in Edinburgh at the Royal Bank of Scotland. At some stage she was working in London also, at a sun tan parlour. [Chuckle] That was near where Diana and Charles lived, and she saw Diana up the street one day.
At some stage too while she was overseas, she and her friend Anna went to France to work in a chalet in the ski fields, and while she was there Matthew, her husband-to-be, turned up as one of the punters. And we met Matthew while we were on a trip to England. They came back to New Zealand and went to Greymouth where Matthew worked as a mining engineer. They were then married at the Landmark Hotel in Napier, and moved to England where Jack was born. When Jack was still little they moved back to New Zealand, to Huntly. Matthew was working at the open cast mine up there for a while. And then they moved to Australia … they went to Perth, to Western Australia … stayed there for a while and then moved to Wollongong where Matthew had work. And Sophie was born in Wollongong, so she’s a little Australian. Hilary and Matthew are now separated, although both are still living in the Hunter Valley.
At the end of 2013 I was diagnosed with kidney disease – auto-immune glomerulonephritis, which isn’t very nice. It’s an insidious disease – it sneaks up on one until you become very, very tired and unable to do anything much. There’s nothing else to show for it. Ended up in hospital of course, had some chemotherapy and then went onto dialysis. Started off with hemodialysis and then graduated to doing peritoneal dialysis at home at night, which I am doing now, and that’s working out very well because it leaves your day free … you’re not spending several hours a day three times a week up at the hospital lying about doing dialysis up there. The treatment is wonderful, it’s available and works very well and you can lead a pretty normal life, just being hooked up to a machine at night. And no one needs to know anything about it.
I’ve just realised that the Psychiatric Hospital in Christchurch where my daughter worked was Sunnyside. It’s closed now, as are a lot of those places.
Now we’ll move back in time to my forebears. My father’s family name is Lochhead. His family came from Auchinloch, not far from Glasgow. They came out to New Zealand and landed in Lyttelton. My grandfather, James McIlwraith Robertson Lochhead, was actually born at sea just off the coast of Lyttelton, on the ‘Mystery’ … which boat actually was a mystery – it disappeared on its next voyage. No one knows what happened to it.
The family was living at Dunsandel. There was a family of five … John and Bob Lochhead continued farming in the South Island. Bob was up near Cheviot way. He had a family of nine and I know one of them had a family of thirteen. There are many, many, many Lochhead cousins in the South Island, all of them related.
Tom Lochhead went up to Tauranga and became quite important. He was Chairman of the Hospital Board at one stage; Chairman of the Power Board and Chairman of the Harbour Board. There are still his descendants around that area too.
Jean Lochhead became Raitt, and I still keep in touch with Raitt cousins. We have some of them down in the South Island.
Jim Lochhead ended up in Hawke’s Bay where he was … I suppose an agricultural labourer. He was a champion New Zealand highland dancer, and on one famous occasion beat his dancing teacher in a competition. And he featured among other places, at … there was a big New Zealand exhibition in Dunedin at one stage. All of his medals and trophies are together in a collection with a relation – they are here in Hastings. He married Annie Paddle Strathallan Inglis, and they took up land in Gundries Road Norsewood. Annie’s name came from the ship ‘Strathallan’ … Captain Paddle, and the captain’s wife’s name was Annie. She was also born at sea – she was born in the Bay of Biscay in a storm. Yes – the boat had to put back to England to be repaired, and then they carried on to New Zealand – hence the unusual name. And yes – it sailed to Napier actually.
Now Annie and James had this land in Norsewood, and their first four children were born there. Then they walked off the land and moved to Feilding, and Jim had a hardware / farm supplies type business – I think there was timber and coal and hardware – that sort of thing. They also had some land at Douglas, and my father and his brother used to go up there and snig out battens from the bush.
Taranaki. And the family did live there for a while. And then I believe they moved to Tangoio … had land there. They came to Mangaroa and then moved into town, in Hastings.
Jim was teaching highland dancing. When he was living in Central Hawke’s Bay he certainly had advertisements in the Waipawa Mail advertising dancing classes.
There were some famous dancers in Waipawa – the Sparks girls.
Oh yes, yes. Well they were Hastings. And she married Appleton-Seymour.
She taught in Waipawa.
Annie’s mother was Helen Oswald, and I believe her mother was a Miss Russell. Helen Oswald married James Inglis. They had lived near Cupar, in Fife. They came out to New Zealand, and James was contracted by Sir Henry Russell to supervise a flock of sheep from England to his property in Central Hawke’s Bay, and he was stock manager for Henry Russell.
They drew a farm of their own in Smedley Road, Tikokino, and called their property Ellensdale. According to the Return of Freeholders in New Zealand, the block covered two hundred and eleven acres, and held a current valuation of £634.
The family used to travel by horse and cart to dances at Onga Onga, crossing three fords on the way. They’d get changed there and stay the night, and come home the next day. There was a big fire at Tikokino … a vast bush and flax fire at Tikokino destroyed the family home, and claimed the life of James and Helen’s youngest child, Agnes. James was seen to run into the blazing house and everyone feared he would not emerge alive. He did, and he was holding his grandfather clock, and that now belongs to his grandson’s children who farmed at Ratahiwi, Woodville. Both James and Helen Inglis are buried at Makaretu Cemetery. I don’t have any more details than that.
My father, William Robert Thomas Lochhead, was born in Feilding and attended school there along with the rest of the family. Dad was the second youngest of a family of eight. The oldest child, Oswald, served in the first war. He had the great good sense when he landed in France, to develop a severe case of pleurisy, so he was sent back to England and it looks like he worked at training Officers for the rest of the war. He was a lawyer, and I think there was a little bit of class distinction in this.
The next brother down, Jack, was killed at Gallipoli. He was killed up at Chunuk Bair, and several members of the family have been up there to see his name on the War Memorial.
The next child was a daughter, Helen … Aunty Jo … Josephine Helen, she was. And then there was Aunty Jean. Aunty Jo lived in Auckland, and more latterly in Napier. Aunty Jean lived in Hastings. Then Aunty Margaret – she married Archie Morrison. They are the people who had Braemar, the farm on which my father worked.
Then there was Hector Lochhead – he was a chain manager at Tomoana, and then had land to the north of Hastings that was in asparagus, and that has now become the Northwood subdivision.
And then there was Aunty Do … Doreen Muriel … she lived in Hastings all her life.
William Lochhead, my father, worked on the family block in Douglas, and as a young man I know he was working in the Shannon area, on farms. He helped on his Uncle Alec Inglis’ farm up the Makaretu Road, and the land he took up at Blackburn had belonged to Alec Inglis’ wife’s family. Alec Inglis left his farm to the Wellington Girls & Boys Institute.
That was nice of him.
Yes, that’s what we all thought – especially as he was childless. Anyway, that’s just a bit of family history.
And one of the Inglis girls married one of the Howards from Smedley … and they now live over – or their family lives over near Marton.
Now, back to William Lochhead. Yes, he also worked at Tomoana, and he and Uncle Mac led the workers back to work after a prolonged strike caused by some Australian union-type people who were working at the Works at the time. The local men couldn’t afford to be on strike and they wanted to get back to work, so Dad and Uncle Mac led the men back to work and they had to walk through a line of men with battens. And there were also problems at Whakatu, and Uncle Mac went over and sorted the workers out there as well.
Oh, that was good.
Yes. Well, it was in the days of the Depression. No one had the money. And I think they decided they’d form a Union in Hawke’s Bay, separate from Wellington. They had their own union here and the fees were ten shillings and men couldn’t afford to pay that but they wanted to belong to the local union. And things got better after that and people stayed in work, and my father also worked in various places around Hastings – I know he was driving traction engines at one stage, that’s how long ago it was.
He served in the Pacific during the second World War – Guadalcanal, New Caledonia, Hebrides – he was one of the oldest men in the 2I Battery.
He was a rugby coach for the Hastings High School Old Boys, and for a couple of years when he was coach of the Hawke’s Bay Juniors, they won the competition.
After the war he farmed the land at Blackburn, which of course was not an economic unit, it was only a hundred and twenty-six acres, so as I mentioned previously, went to Crownthorpe to farm for Keith Donald, and then to Braemar for the Morrisons, and then to Raukawa.
The farm was sold after Dad died – we sold the farm in 1981. My father died when I was thirty, so that would have been 1975, in October 1975. And my mother then moved to a flat in Queen Street in Hastings where she lived until she died … she died in 1985; my father died in 1975.
My great-grandfather on my mother’s father’s side of the family, George Henry Angove, was a ships’ carpenter and a member of the crew of the Royal Yacht in King Edward VII’s time. His family – his father and brothers – were both harbour pilots. The family was living in Falmouth on the south coast of England. George was apprenticed to Henry Stephens Trevalthyn, a ship builder at Burdock in the County of Cornwall. His discharge at the end of his time was on April 11th 1870. In May 1872, George married Ellen Mary Stephens. Shortly afterward, possibly 1874, George and Ellen reached New Zealand.
In Napier the ships’ carpenter helped to build the first bridge across the Inner Harbour to Westshore, and they lived at 114 Waghorne Street Ahuriri. He worked for the boat builder North on the Western Spit, latterly known as Westshore. There was a fire there, reported in the Daily Telegraph on October 28th 1884, reporting a serious loss of all the workers’ tools in this big fire, which was noticed at half past two in the morning.
Several of the family died of consumption … I don’t know how many family there were. One of their children was certainly Arthur Norman Angove, my grandfather. He was one of the unsung heroes after the Hawke’s Bay earthquake. He worked for three days and nights – he was a telegraphist, and he knew the old Marconi method of transmission which a lot of other people didn’t know. So after pushing a man up the hill in a wheelchair and then bringing him down again when there was no tidal wave as they called them then, he went to work and worked for days and nights sending messages in and out of Napier. Unfortunately he suffered a breakdown after that from which he never recovered, and his life ended in Oakley Hospital in Auckland. He died of pneumonia following a fall which fractured the neck of his femur.
He was a gentle man, a good essayist … he would do the children’s homework. He and Nana, my grandmother Sarah Olive Forrest, built a house in Vigor Brown Street, Napier in 1910, soon after they were married, and my grandmother lived in it until she died in 1971. When it was built Arthur had just £10 to pay on it – it was a struggle, but somehow he managed. In August 1995 the same house was advertised for sale for $128,000. Yes. I think at the time it was built it cost £300; the section was £30; and my grandmother’s engagement ring which came from a shop in Ahuriri, was £10. I still have that ring … five-stone diamond ring.
The house was just one block down from the Tutaekuri River on the corner of Vigor Brown Street and Thistle Street, so all the children learned to swim in the Tutaekuri River. And my Uncle Frank nearly drowned there one time – he had to be pulled from the river. And incidentally, that’s the same river where two of James’ uncles drowned when they were boys.
Arthur and Olive had four children … Norma, who married Ed Renouf; Gwen, who married Bill Lochhead; Albert, who married Nell Jenkins and lived in Wellington – they had no children – and Frank, who never married.
So that’s where the Renouf connection comes through your family?
Yes. You know David? Yes. Well Aunty Norma and Uncle Ed adopted David. Yes, that’s how the Renouf connection comes in.
Arthur was fond of his extensive vegetable garden, and I can remember even as a child, Nana still had the huge vegetable garden in the back yard. They had quite a big section – it wasn’t a quarter-acre, but it was a large section – and there were vegetables all up one side, and there were potatoes up the other side, and there were fruit trees … apricots, nectarines, grapes, lemons … there was always a big garden.
Well they needed to be self-sufficient those days.
Yes. And over the years that gradually diminished as things changed.
Now my grandmother, Sarah Olive Forrest – she was actually born in Palmerston North – quite why, I don’t know. Her parents were Emma and Henry Forrest, I believe. I remember my great grandmother, Emma – she died when I was about eight. She was Emma Holt. Her father was Walter Holt, Robert Holt’s brother. Walter was nominated for settlement in New Zealand by Robert Holt. He and Emma, his daughter, left 33 Cranberry Street Oldham, and arrived in New Zealand aboard the ship ‘Victory’, landing in Wellington. They then shipped to Napier via the ‘Southern Cross’, arriving on 22nd May 1884. A few years ago James and I went back to Oldham and found Cranberry Street – actually I think it was Cranberry Terrace – and it had all been redeveloped in the 1960s so the old terrace houses were no longer there.
Robert [Walter] Holt remarried a lady called Sarah Bussell and they lived in Thackeray Street. At some stage they moved to Taradale. Walter’s first wife was a Miss Spivey, and she died in England at the age of twenty-six. She had breast cancer. Now Sarah, the stepmother, was apparently much disliked. She was a strict, unfeeling woman.
Now I mentioned that Emma’s husband was Henry – he was actually Ernest.
When Walter remarried, Emma was about seventeen, and Walter and his second wife went on to have children. And some of the Holt cousins are still around, from that family. Emma I remember as being a very old lady, bedridden, up in a home in Napier, and she had Parkinsons and she died in St Mary’s Home, Finnis Lane, Napier.
Grandmother Sarah was a seamstress. She did beautiful needlework, sewing, all that sort of thing, which has passed down to my mother, and to me – I did a lot of sewing particularly when the children were little. Nana raised the family, always kept the home and garden and lawns neat and tidy. She was very active until she died at the age of eighty-two. She played croquet, and more than once a week … played several times a week … and then more latterly, bowls – very keen on bowls – and she really did keep very fit and active. And she used to have card afternoons – the ladies would come around and play canasta. I remember having to help set up the tables for the afternoon tea. She’d get the chairs out for the canasta. A lovely lady, and of course she looked after me when I stayed with her to go to school.
So she was a sort of second mother to you?
Yes, very much.
After the earthquake … my mother and Norma were both working in town – my mother was in the Public Trust, and got out of the building. It was one of the few that was left standing actually, in Napier. And Norma worked in the photography studio up Emerson Street – photographic studio of A B Hurst. And of course my mother and Norma, after the earthquake, set off for home.
Albert was at the Boys’ High, and he saw the big parapet come down and split over the head of the Headmaster – fell each side of him.
And Frank was at primary school. The children all found their way home, and everybody from the street gathered together and set up cooking spots out on the street. And for many weeks afterwards people slept outside in the back yards, because it was mid-summer, it was warm. But they were too scared to be inside the house, where all the chimneys had come down, floors were sloping, and the aftershocks kept shaking everything.
The family was evacuated to Dannevirke … no, to Palmerston North … and my mother then worked at the Dannevirke Public Trust. And then eventually as things in Napier improved, they were all able to come back home again and carry on with life. But the house is still standing, so …
Oh, yes. [Chuckle] More than a hundred years old, and it’s still standing.
Right – my mother, Gwendoline Olive Angove, as I’ve said previously, grew up and went to school in Napier. She went to High School for only two years. She was also dux of Nelson Park Primary School.
Runs in the family.
[Chuckle] And she left school and went to work, and was at the Public Trust at the time of the earthquake. She was also a Napier representative netballer. The family all kept pretty fit, they were all into sport … swimming, and Uncle Albert was a diver. He was renowned as a diver, and he was also a weightlifter. And this was in the days before the Commonwealth Games, but he would have won things at the Commonwealth Games. He was a New Zealand champion weightlifter in one of the lighter classes. So they were all sporty.
After the earthquake, they all joined in the ‘Rehabilitate Napier’ processions and fund-raising, and ‘Get Napier Going Again’ groups that were set up to re-establish the city – well the town, as it was then.
Well they started the Thirty Thousand Club, didn’t they?
Yes … that came a bit later.
Mum and Dad were married during the war – Dad came home on a furlough for three months, and they were married at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Napier. So yes, Dad went off back to the war then, and then when he came home of course they moved up to Blackburn, and you’ve had the story since then.
Your family certainly have got some depth of history in Hawke’s Bay, haven’t they?
You and James over the years have travelled extensively, and I always remember the last trip you went on in the middle of your kidney difficulties, you had a window of opportunity where …
Oh yes, yes.
… what you mightn’t have done as a young girl you’ve caught up on later on in life.
Yes. Yes … yes, we’ve had several trips – two or three while James was Editor of the paper – we’d go to PANPA Conferences … Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers’ Association Conferences. Some of them in Australia, some of them around New Zealand. And that gave us an opportunity to take a few days and see a bit more of Australia, and of course with children … family … living there, now we go across fairly frequently.
James and I did a couple of trips to the UK, particularly when Hilary was living over there. One particular trip we did involved a tour to Gallipoli, and that was most interesting. We had a quick tour round Gallipoli one day, and then the next day we had an Australian guide and we had a full day there. And it was in May, just after Anzac Day, and we had our Turkish bus driver and our Aussie guide; we were Kiwis and we had the most fascinating tour all round Gallipoli – all round the places that we wanted to go to, like Quinn’s Post where Uncle Jack was; Chunuk Bair where Jack was killed, and where James’ Uncle Charles was severely wounded and then crawled back down to the beach over three days. We saw all up and down Walker’s Ridge where the abandoned water tanks are still lying. We’ve got bits of shrapnel here that we were able to pick up. And it was quite fascinating to see up on the top, just how close the Turkish trenches where to the British – or the New Zealand trenches – just almost within reaching distance – very close. That was a fascinating insight.
We also went round Belgium and France. We stayed near Ypres in Belgium, and had Annette, a wonderful Belgian lady as our guide, and we saw where James’ Uncle Charles had been wounded at Passchendaele, and where the field hospital was, and found his plot in the cemetery.
We also went to Messines where Uncle Charles received a very high award.
Yes, he got the Military Cross …
Military Medal … Military Medal.
And then later you did your canal trip too?
And we also went down to the Somme, where my great uncle, Frank Forrest, was killed. He was a gunner, and he was killed. He went through Gallipoli, and he was working then on the catering side of things. And then he went on to the Somme, yes, where he was killed. He’s buried in the Guards’ Cemetery at Lesbouefs, and I would be the only relation who’s ever been to that plot.
It wasn’t the Military Medal that Charles got – it was the Military Cross.
So that was very interesting, going round all that beautiful countryside. And apparently at the time of the first war – when it started – the young Belgian men were all down in the Somme bringing in the harvest. And that’s why there was no Belgian Army. Yes, because Annette – our guide’s uncle was one of those men.
Fascinating … and then yes, I had a break in dialysis – my kidneys picked up for a little while, and that was when we did our canal trip from Amsterdam right through to the Black Sea. That was last year, 2016. And that was … it was beautiful. And because of James’ walking difficulties it was easier for us to stay in one place, on the boat.
And now you’ve retained your lovely home on some land and you’ve disposed of the orchard, so now you are free.
So I think that’s probably just about covered everything, hasn’t it?
I would have thought so.
All right, well thank you very much Leith, for that.
Original digital file
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Interviewer: Frank Cooper