Call to hon­our WWI he­roes

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ANNA LOREN

John and Winifred Whit­burn’s two sons died in the same place ex­actly four months apart.

Lance-Cor­po­ral Alexan­der Whit­burn, 25, was killed in ac­tion at the Bat­tle of the Somme on May 16, 1916.

His lit­tle brother Pri­vate Her­bert Whit­burn, 22, fell on Septem­ber 16.

The two men were the great-great-un­cles of Ma­nurewa Lo­cal Board chair­woman An­gela Dal­ton and are com­mem­o­rated on the ceno­taph at the cor­ner of Great South and Hill roads in the town cen­tre.

But lit­tle is known about many of the other 24 World War I ca­su­al­ties whose names are listed there.

Now a new com­mit­tee, the Ma­nurewa World War I Steer­ing Group, is seek­ing in­for­ma­tion so the he­roes can be hon­oured.

The group is made up of mem­bers of the lo­cal board and the Ma­nurewa Re­turned and Ser­vices’ As­so­ci­a­tion as well as Auck­land Coun­cil and Ma­nurewa Youth Coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

They’re look­ing to speak to mem­bers of the dead men’s fam­i­lies and find out any war­time tales that have been passed down.

‘‘We want to be able to tell sto­ries of the people who stayed here while the war was go­ing on as well as the men who were over­seas,’’ Ms Dal­ton says.

Ma­nurewa RSA pres­i­dent Gra­ham Dolan reck­ons some of those sto­ries will be fas­ci­nat­ing to hear.

‘‘To come from a lit­tle place like this and fin­ish off some­where over­seas ... it would have been an ad­ven­ture,’’ he says.

The group hopes to gather the in­for­ma­tion within the next 13 months so the fam­i­lies can be in­cluded in the cel­e­bra­tions to mark the 100th an­niver­sary of the Gal­lipoli land­ing, on April 25, 2015.

They’re also look­ing for the sto­ries of those on rolls of hon­our at Ma­nurewa Cen­tral School, Al­fris­ton School, St David’s Angli­can Church, Christ Church Angli­can Church and the Al­fris­ton Com­mu­nity Hall.

Photo: ANNA LOREN

Sto­ries sought: The Ma­nurewa World War I steer­ing group wants to find the fam­i­lies be­hind the names on the town’s ceno­taph. Pic­tured are mem­bers, from left: Michael Bai­ley, An­gela Dal­ton, Gra­ham Dolan, Stella Cat­tle, Ross Gal­lagher, Max Ry­der and Amar Jakhu. Ab­sent are Bruce Ringer and Anne Candy.

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