Let­ter still holds mys­tery 100 years af­ter death

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JU­LIAN RAETHEL

Thirty years have passed since rel­a­tives Lind­say Walden and Hazel Tarr last saw each other.

A let­ter writ­ten a cen­tury ago has re­united them just in time for An­zac Day.

Pri­vate Ray­mond John Baker was killed in ac­tion on the very first day of the Gal­lipoli land­ing on April 25, 1915.

He was Hazel Tarr’s un­cle and Lind­say Walden’s great-un­cle.

The fam­ily ob­tained a let­ter writ­ten by a fel­low sol­dier who sur­vived the bom­bard­ment – the only one of the sixth Hau­raki Coy to crawl out of the night­mare.

Lance Cor­po­ral Wil­liam Arthur Price be­friended Baker on their jour­ney – ex­pressed in the let­ter writ­ten to a Miss Cann, be­lieved to have been Baker’s girl­friend.

Wil­liam Price’s let­ter de­tails how Baker died and the or­deal Price went through af­ter be­ing wounded twice dur­ing the war.

Walden has do­nated the let­ter to the Auck­land Mu­seum.

He wants to track down descen­dants of Wil­liam Price who, ac­cord­ing to his records, is from Waihi.

‘‘On records that chap must have sur­vived the war,’’ Walden says.

‘‘We wanted to hold onto [the let­ter] un­til the 100th An­zac an­niver­sary.’’

Ray­mond Baker was one of three broth­ers shipped off to dif­fer­ent parts of the globe when war broke out.

He en­listed on Au­gust 14, 1914 and trained at the Ep­som camp.

The Otoro­hanga fam­ily had only moved to New Zealand from Eng­land two years prior.

The me­mora­bilia in­cluded a post- card Baker wrote to his sis­ter Edith (Hazel Tarr’s mother), just two days be­fore he died.

Tarr has lived in Hen­der­son for a num­ber of years and says her el­ders didn’t speak much of the war.

‘‘Mother didn’t tell us much about him,’’ she says.

‘‘She was only 12 at the time he died. There was a big age dif­fer­ence,’’ she says.

‘‘She knew [her broth­ers] in a very af­fec­tion­ate way. She al­ways wrote them and they would write back.’’

Wil­liam Price’s let­ter talks of his own strug­gles and be­ing ‘‘shoul­der to shoul­der in that land­ing on Gal­lipoli Penin­sula’’.

The 6th Hau­raki Coy came un­der heavy fire af­ter ad­vanc­ing 3km.

‘‘We were heav­ily shelled dur­ing this short retreat and it was then that Ray fell badly wounded in the lower part of the body,’’ the let­ter says.

‘‘Ray was ly­ing about 15 yards from me and ap­peared to be per­fectly still, so I gath­ered that death had al­ready taken place.’’

Wil­liam Price speaks highly of his fallen com­rade and how he mirac­u­lously sur­vived af­ter be­ing wounded in both legs.

‘‘I man­aged to crawl for quite half a mile and was met by re­in­force­ments who car­ried me to safety,’’ he says.

Walden will be at Waikumete Ceme­tery this An­zac Day wear­ing his fa­ther’s medals ob­tained dur­ing World War II – a tra­di­tion he’s up­held for a long time – while Hazel Tarr is in Lon­don for the An­zac cen­ten­nial com­mem­o­ra­tions.

Photo: JU­LIAN RAETHEL

Hazel Tarr and Lind­say Walden are re­united by a let­ter writ­ten about their rel­a­tive who died in World War I.

Pri­vate Ray­mond John Baker was killed in ac­tion on April 25, 1914 at Gal­lipoli.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bournews. co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to hear the con­tents of the let­ter.

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