Letter still holds mystery 100 years after death
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.
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.