A reminder of Somme sacrifice
Somme House is a well-known landmark on the foreshore of Karehana Bay, Plimmerton, likely commemorating two soldiers’ service in WWI.
It was bought by Juanita Craw in 1918 - her family used to come to Plimmerton for seaside holidays, hence Juanita Craw’s affection for the area
At the outbreak of WWI, Juanita’s brother Eric enlisted in the Wellington Mounted Rifles.
Lance Corporal Craw sailed with the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force from Wellington to Egypt on October 26, 1914.
The Wellington Mounted Rifles didn’t take part in the first Gallipoli landings, but arrived on May 12, 1915.
Craw, now a corporal, was shot in the abdomen at Chunuk Bair on August 21, 1915.
He spent time in hospitals in Manchester and London and was deemed fit enough for active duty by the following March.
Now a gunner with the New Zealand Field Artillery, Lance Bombardier Craw was shipped to France in May with the New Zealand Division.
The New Zealand Division was withdrawn on October 3 and 4, 1916, but not before it incurred 7000 casualties, including the death of 1560 soldiers.
Somme House early on
The land on which Somme House was builtwas once part of George Troup’s estate, which extended up Cluny Rd and included Motuhara, Moana and Airlie roads. In 1910 the landwas subdivided and sections were sold off over the subsequent years. In May 1915, Robert Hird Hustler, a painter from Johnsonville, bought the land and built a home, but he sold it in 1918 to Juanita Heather Sylvia Crawof Linton.
The gunners stayed behind and endured weeks of toil and danger in worsening conditions.
By the time New Zealand’s artillery was withdrawn from the line in the last week of October 1916, it had suffered about 500 casualties, one of whom was Eric Craw.
He is buried at Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, France.
The second family connection to the Somme is Juanita’s husband Ditlev (Dit) Gothard Monrad. Enlisting, he landed at Gallipoli and was eventually evacuated after being wounded.
Returning to active service on the Western Front, it is likely he was active in the Battle of the Somme, although no records confirm it.
Wounded, he was sent back to New Zealand and married Juanita Craw in August 1918.
While there is no conclusive evidence of when the house was named, Juanita’s brother’s and husband’s involvement in the Battle of the Somme means it is likely that the house commemorates their service.
Somme House, 34 Sunset Pde, Plimmerton