Fa­ther never men­tioned his World War I ser­vice

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By ABBY BROWN

An­zac Day is es­pe­cially poignant three sis­ters for­merly of Mata­mata.

Their fa­ther, a re­turned sol­dier, died the day af­ter An­zac Day, with a poppy above his bed, in 1973.

Talk­ing about their dad made them wish he was there with them.

‘‘Even if they would be 120, you never stop miss­ing them,’’ one of David Wil­liam White’s daugh­ters, Christine Clay, said.

Clay and her six other sib­lings didn’t know their fa­ther was a World War I vet­eran un­til he was posthu­mously awarded a com­mem­o­ra­tive medal.

Years af­ter he was awarded the medal, Wy­att found her fa­ther’s war di­ary, which she has tran­scribed.

He wrote of his dis­ap­point­ment when­ever he didn’t re­ceive a let­ter from home while he was serv­ing in the Dardanelles from April 17, 1915, to April 11, 1916.

It made Wy­att quite emo­tional when

for she read about that.

‘‘He would write ‘still have not re­ceived any let­ters from home’ and I just thought ‘you poor bug­ger’.’’

He did note that socks his sis­ter knit­ted him would be more suited to a ‘‘gi­ant’’.

Wy­att, Clay and their sis­ter, Jen­nifer Cros­bie, were in Mata­mata for the An­zac Day dawn and ceme­tery ser­vices. Their fa­ther is buried in the RSA sec­tion.

His brother, Peter, died serv­ing in the war, which Wy­att said must have been hor­ri­ble for her fa­ther. ‘‘If I had one wish, if I popped my clogs to­mor­row, I would have liked to place a flower on my un­cle’s grave,’’ she said.

She doesn’t think she will ever be able to do so be­cause Beer­sheba ceme­tery, where he is buried, is too close to the danger­ous Gaza Strip. How­ever, they do know ex­actly where he is buried.

Wy­att put her name in the bal­lot to go to Gal­lipoli for the ser­vice this year but her name wasn’t pulled out. How­ever, one of White’s great-grand­daugh­ters was suc­cess­ful.

One of White’s grand­sons has pre­vi­ously been to Gal­lipoli with the po­lice force for An­zac ser­vices. He wore White’s medals at a dawn ser­vice in Palmer­ton North. The late un­cle’s medals were worn by an­other fam­ily mem­ber to an­other ser­vice. The sis­ters all wore repli­cas of their fa­ther’s medals, in­clud­ing the rare Gal­lipoli Star medal, to Satur­day’s ser­vices.

The sis­ters were glad the younger gen­er­a­tion was get­ting in­volved in An­zac ser­vices and learn­ing about the war.

‘‘They are learn­ing more about it than we ever did in school. It was never talked about,’’ Wy­att said.

She didn’t think the younger gen­er­a­tion could go away to war at the age, 21, their fa­ther did – 21-year-olds th­ese days wouldn’t want to get out of bed, let alone sit in wet trenches’’.

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