Our hid­den heroes to­day

Sunday Star-Times - - FRONT PAGE - Jonathan Milne jonathan.milne@stuff.co.nz

As a young­ster, An­nie Tod­hunter was taken by her mother to doc­tors in Bri­tain and Switzer­land in a vain search for a fix for her hip de­fect.

As a Red Cross vol­un­teer in World War I, Tod­hunter used the friends she’d made and lan­guages she’d learned to sin­gle-hand­edly or­gan­ise the Miss­ing Sol­diers’ En­quiry Bureau, or­gan­is­ing searchers to scour the hos­pi­tals and ceme­ter­ies of Eng­land and France for miss­ing men.

Talk­ing to younger Tod­hunter generations this week, they are sur­prised and de­lighted to learn of the con­tri­bu­tion made by this woman who, to the fam­ily, was sim­ply a maiden aunt whose deaf­ness in later years meant she mostly kept to her­self.

Ella and Wil­liam Price shel­tered their son and his friend– both on the run from com­pul­sory war ser­vice – in the ceil­ing cav­ity of their home in Vic­to­ria St, Christchurch. The Prices’ will­ing­ness to face a six­month prison sen­tence speaks to their cer­tainty about the prin­ci­ples that mo­ti­vated the two mil­i­tary de­sert­ers.

Takaka broth­ers Char­lie, Ted and Les­lie Newlove died within eight days of each other on the Western Front, leav­ing no chil­dren to re­mem­ber them – just their age­ing mother to grieve her lost sons.

Th­ese are some of our war heroes. And they were for­got­ten in their own life­times.

Talk­ing to fam­i­lies about their lost loved ones, that is one of the more poignant dis­cov­er­ies.

So now, 100 years on from the end of World War I, who are our for­got­ten heroes to­day? Those who are qui­etly, humbly, risk­ing them­selves for oth­ers?

They may be vig­or­ous young women and men, serv­ing brave causes around the world. They may be key­board war­riors fight­ing un­pop­u­lar causes at home. They may be deaf maiden aunts, qui­etly putting their rep­u­ta­tions and liveli­hoods on the line and seek­ing no ac­claim.

The mem­o­ries of the heroes of World War I will fade fur­ther into the mists of the past. But a cen­tury on, Ar­mistice Day is a chance for us to think about those hid­den heroes of to­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.