Grate­ful for grave care

A story about an English­woman who vis­its the graves of Kiwi sol­ders in Stafford­shire was used by Fair­fax news­pa­pers around the coun­try. Fam­ily mem­bers of those sol­diers read the story and got in touch, as Ka­rina Aba­dia re­ports.

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE -


Pauline vis­its the two graves three or four times a year, in­clud­ing Re­mem­brance Sun­day when she plants pop­pies.

Richard first read the story in the Ti­maru Her­ald. He was sur­prised to learn that one of the graves be­longed to his great-un­cle Jack Clive Al­lan.

‘‘I thought: ‘ Oh I know who that is’. It’s such a lovely thing for some­one to do. It was just for­tu­nate I knew some of the fam­ily his­tory,’’ he says.

The fam­ily lived in Christchurch but later moved to North­land.

Jack was one of 10 chil­dren and mar­ried Irene Dun­bar in 1914.

They had a son, also called Jack, and lived in Eden Cres in cen­tral Auck­land.

Jack Sr died of in­fluenza and lo­bar pneu­mo­nia in 1918. He was 32. Richard’s fam­ily re­mained in con­tact with Irene, who was nick­named Rene.

‘‘She was a favourite of my fa­ther’s and she never re­mar­ried,’’ Richard says.

Pauline also vis­its the grave of Pon­sonby res­i­dent Trevor Ray­mond Knox.

Pauline chose Auck­lan­ders Trevor and Jack among the 70-odd New RICHARD AL­LAN has never had the op­por­tu­nity to visit his great-un­cle’s grave in Eng­land but he’s de­lighted to know that some­one is keep­ing an eye on it.

The story of Bri­tish woman Pauline Han­ni­gan adopt­ing the World War I graves of two Auck­land sol­diers in Can­nock Chase, Stafford­shire, first ap­peared in the Auck­land City Har­bour News on Oc­to­ber Zealan­ders buried in the Com­mon­wealth War Graves site be­cause her son Jeremy Scull lives in Auck­land.

Bruce Knox was moved to read about Pauline’s con­nec­tion to his Un­cle Trevor in the Western Leader.

Trevor’s fam­ily lived in John St in Pon­sonby and was the youngest of four brothers who fought in WWI.

The other three re­turned home but two of them were badly in­jured.

‘‘Even though we’ve known for some time where Un­cle Trevor was buried ... be­ing so far away we have never been able to visit his grave per­son­ally,’’ the Avon­dale res­i­dent says.

The story of his sacrifice lives on in the Knox house­hold. Trevor was only 20 when he died of sep­ti­caemia in 1918.

‘‘We have al­ways had a strik­ing pic­ture of Un­cle Trevor, in full mil­i­tary uni­form, hang­ing in the fam­ily home and ev­ery­one who sees it asks about him.’’

Pauline has been

in con­tact with both men in the past two months.

Learn­ing more about ‘‘her boys’’ has been an en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, she says.

‘‘I re­ally feel as if they were mem­bers of my own fam­ily.

‘‘They are no longer anony­mous grave plots but real char­ac­ters and I am so happy to visit them on be­half of their blood rel­a­tives.’’

But that’s not the end of the story.

Pauline adopted a third grave after Waikanae man Ge­off McMil­lan read the story in the Do­min­ion Post and got in touch with her.

His un­cle Charles Robert McMil­lan is buried in Can­nock Chase.

The South­land sawmiller died of dis­ease at the age of 25 on Novem­ber 17, 1918, just a few months after be­gin­ning his voy­age. He was one of three brothers who en­listed, but the other two made it home.

Pauline isn’t the first per­son to adopt Charles’ grave, Ge­off says.

In 1921 a woman wrote to his mother ask­ing for seeds to sow on his grave and a year later she sent a wa­ter­colour she’d painted of the grave site.

It’s lovely to know Pauline also shares an in­ter­est in the fam­ily his­tory, he says.

‘‘We had a long chat on the phone, which was nice.

‘‘I’ve been fas­ci­nated about the whole thing for years.

‘‘I’m think­ing of tak­ing a trip to Can­nock Chase for Anzac Day next year.’’

Pauline hopes to catch up with the three men and their fam­i­lies when she’s in New Zealand in Jan­uary.

War sto­ries: Pauline Han­ni­gan is thrilled to have heard from sev­eral peo­ple re­lated to the Kiwi sol­diers whose graves she vis­its in Eng­land.

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