Badge of hon­our for WWI tor­toise

Nelson Mail - - News - Tim O’Con­nell tim.ocon­nell@stuff.co.nz

She is the only liv­ing sur­vivor of World War I from down un­der, and a Greek tor­toise named Torty is set to be hon­oured by the Re­turned and Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion.

Torty, pic­tured, was brought to New Zealand by Kiwi stretcher bearer Ste­wart Lit­tle, who found her wounded af­ter she had been run over by a French gun car­riage in Thes­sa­loniki, also known as Salonica, where in­jured Gal­lipoli sol­diers were be­ing treated in 1915.

Lit­tle nursed her back to health, and slipped her into his back­pack when it was time to re­turn home in 1918. When the hi­ber­nat­ing Torty awoke, she was in Dunedin.

Chris and He­len Lit­tle of Mor­rinsville are de­scen­dants of Torty’s first Kiwi cus­to­dian, and are bring­ing her to this week­end’s armistice cen­te­nary com­mem­o­ra­tions at Ta­paw­era. The three-day event be­gins to­day.

In recog­ni­tion of her liv­ing his­tory sta­tus, the Rich­mondWaimea RSA will present Torty with her own mem­ber­ship badge at Sun­day’s clos­ing cer­e­mony, to be held from 3pm.

Fol­low­ing last month’s Ride to Re­mem­ber in me­mory of mounted troops from Ta­paw­era who served in the war, the vil­lage will com­mem­o­rate the armistice cen­te­nary near the site of a Re­gional Mil­i­tary Train­ing Camp es­tab­lished on Ge­orge McMa­hon’s farm. Most of the men from the top of the south who served dur­ing the war passed through the camp prior to de­ploy­ment.

Or­gan­iser Sarah Arnold said pub­lic in­ter­est in the armistice cen­te­nary had grown in re­cent weeks, as had the num­ber of peo­ple dis­cov­er­ing fam­ily links to the war and the Ta­paw­era camp.

Torty’s story has al­ready fea­tured in a chil­dren’s book, Torty and the Sol­dier. At the in­vi­ta­tion of Ta­paw­era com­mit­tee mem­ber San­dra Ro­gan, the book’s au­thor Jen­nifer Beck and il­lus­tra­tor Robyn Bel­ton will be read­ing their chil­dren’s sto­ries on Sun­day.

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