One bat­tle: Three sons dead

Nelson Mail - - WEEKEND -

The broth­ers were three of eight sons of Leonard and Mary Ann Newlove (nee Hitch­cock) who farmed 75 acres at Cen­tral Takaka.

Leonard Charles (Char­lie) was born in 1876, Ge­orge Thomas in 1878, Al­bert Ernest (Ernie) in 1880, Oliver in 1882, Ed­win (Ted), in 1884, Al­fred Ho­race in 1886, Her­bert in 1887, and Les­lie Mal­colm in 1895.

By June 1917 Ge­orge was at­tached to 363rd Forestry Com­pany, Royal En­gi­neers as ax­e­man, and by July his broth­ers were also in France.

Char­lie went miss­ing and was sub­se­quently de­clared killed in ac­tion dur­ing the 4 Oc­to­ber of­fen­sive.

Ted and Les­lie were killed on 12 Oc­to­ber. Les­lie’s body dis­ap­peared into the mud but Ted’s body was found and buried.

How­ever, as was the case for many of the bat­tle­field graves, his fi­nal rest­ing spot was lost or de­stroyed in sub­se­quent fight­ing.

If his or his broth­ers’ bod­ies or graves were ever found again, they could not be iden­ti­fied and they may be among the 322 uniden­ti­fied New Zealand vic­tims of Pass­chen­daele who were buried in Tyne Cot Ceme­tery, close to where they died.

Back home in Takaka, their wid­owed mother, Mary Ann, had to en­dure the heartache of re­ceiv­ing sep­a­rate no­ti­fi­ca­tions of the deaths of her sons in the three weeks fol­low­ing the bat­tle.

It was the cus­tom of the post­mas­ter to de­liver the tele­grams in­form­ing fam­i­lies their loved ones in ser­vice had died but af­ter de­liv­er­ing two such tele­grams to the Newlove home, he couldn’t face see­ing the dis­traught Mary Ann again and sent his deputy in­stead.

It was another 18 months be­fore Ge­orge re­turned home safely in May 1919.

Oc­to­ber 12 – 1917 was Nel­son’s black­est day. It was a day when the Nel­sonTas­man re­gion lost more lives than on any other sin­gle day dur­ing World War I.

At least 34 Nel­son men died and a fur­ther nine were mor­tally wounded, dy­ing over the next few days and into early Novem­ber of the in­juries sus­tained dur­ing the First Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele in Flan­ders, Bel­gium.

Aged be­tween 20 and 45, these men had been farm­ers, labour­ers, shop keep­ers, of­fice clerks.

They came from Nel­son City, Stoke, Rich­mond, Motueka and Takaka, but the ma­jor­ity hailed from small ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties across the for­mer Nel­son Prov­ince, in­clud­ing Ta­paw­era, Murchi­son, Ma­pua, and Colling­wood.

Nel­son’s dead were part of what has been de­scribed as New Zealand’s great­est dis­as­ter and the black­est day in the coun­try’s post1840 his­tory.

Though more ac­cu­rately per­haps, the high ca­su­alty rate could also be re­ferred to as the re­sult of a ter­ri­ble blun­der by the Bri­tish High Com­mand.

About 950 Kiwi sol­diers died or were mor­tally wounded that day.

Of that num­ber 845 men were

PHOTO: GOLDEN BAY MU­SEUM TE WAKA HUIA O MOHUA PHO­TO­GRAPH COL­LEC­TION

The Newlove broth­ers; Char­lie, Ted and Les­lie at the Ta­paw­era Mil­i­tary Camp.

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