Con­tin­u­ing the search to re­turn a ‘‘relic’’

North Waikato News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CAITLIN WAL­LACE

Peter Ro­manovsky is on a mis­sion to see a dead soldier’s ‘‘relic’’ re­turned to rel­a­tives.

The soldier at the cen­tre of the Huntly man’s quest is Wil­liam Ge­orge Mid­ford who died in The Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele on Oc­to­ber 4, 1917.

Ro­manovsky said Mid­ford’s French lan­guage book was stowed away in a box of books he bought at Auck­land auc­tion house Cordys.

A per­son called T J Dale owned the box be­fore­hand, and inside the cover of the book it had a note say­ing it was passed on to him from Mid­ford be­fore he went to bat­tle.

The box only sparked Ro­manovsky’s in­ter­est as there was a po­etry book on the top, so he packed away the rest.

That was a few years ago and it wasn’t un­til this year, the cen­te­nary of the bat­tle, that the lan­guage book re-sur­faced.

Ar­chives from the Auck­land War Me­mo­rial Mu­seum state that Mid­ford’s sis­ter Mrs Ernest Brown was liv­ing in Feild­ing.

And his medals were passed on to his brother Henry Black­ett Mid­ford of Tau­maranui in 1923.

A few months ago Ro­manovsky started his search but it came to a halt after he fell ill.

‘‘Oth­er­wise I would have driven down to Feild­ing my­self,’’ he said. ‘‘I knew a bit about the bat­tle but fate brought me the box.’’

He al­most threw the book away as it has fallen apart and the pages were scat­tered in the box. But his search to re­turn it to the fam­ily was in­spired by a poem writ­ten by Siegfried Sas­soon called On Pass­ing the New Menin Gate.

The poem talks about the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice the sol­diers made and the trib­ute they re­ceived wasn’t worth their death which hit a ‘‘raw nerve’’ with Ro­manovsky.

Based on records, Mid­ford was con­scripted and Ro­manovsky came to the con­clu­sion that he wasn’t sta­ble enough to han­dle the war as he at­tempted to be ex­cused.

‘‘I think poor Mid­ford needs to be re­mem­bered.

‘‘My dream was that his book, the last relic of Wil­liam Ge­orge Mid­ford, would be re­turned to his fam­ily, it’ll be lovely if that could be done.’’

Huntly RSA trea­surer Frank McI­nally helped re­search records through the RSA data­base.

‘‘It’s a great idea, es­pe­cially when it co­in­cides with the cen­te­nary of Pass­chen­daele.’’ He said it was rare to find mem­o­ra­bilia from that bat­tle and said it would be a ’’great story’’ if the fam­ily was found.

On Pass­ing the New Menin Gate, by Siegfried Sas­soon, in­spired Peter Ro­manovsky to take ac­tion.

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