‘The men fell ev­ery­where’

Sec­ond Lieu­tenant Hami Grace’s World War I di­ary was re­cently given to Welling­ton Col­lege by his de­scen­dants.

The Dominion Post - - News Armistice Day – 100 Years On - Tom Hunt writes.

In a quiet mo­ment Hami Grace went to Walker’s Ridge and looked out. To one side was the beauty of the Aegean Sea but, turn around, ‘‘and all the hor­rors of war greet you’’.

Two months af­ter writ­ing those words, the for­mer Welling­ton Col­lege boy would have fallen vic­tim to the hor­rors of war – an­other New Zealan­der dead at Gal­lipoli.

World War I Sec­ond Lieu­tenant Thomas Mar­shall Percy Grace, of the Welling­ton In­fantry Bat­tal­ion, was killed in ac­tion on Au­gust 8, 1915 in the sec­ond year of World War I at Gal­lipoli, Turkey.

He was, the won­der­fully com­pre­hen­sive Auck­land Mu­seum on­line ceno­taph notes, also known as Hemi.

Hemi Grace might have been largely for­got­ten but for his no­table sniper skills – so good that Lieu­tenant Colonel Wil­liam Mal­one hand-picked him for those skills – and a re­mark­ably pre­served di­ary was re­cently given to Welling­ton Col­lege by his de­scen­dants.

And now he is the sub­ject of one of six four-minute Ma¯ ori and Pa­cific-fo­cused Great War Sto­ries com­plied by AC Pro­duc­tions’ Anna Cot­trell to screen to­mor­row, Armistice Day, on Ma¯ ori TV.

Grace – a grand­son on one side of Ngati Tuwhare­toa Para­mount Chief Te Heuheu and Church Mis­sion­ary So­ci­ety Rev­erend Thomas Grace – was born in 1890 be­side Lake Taupo¯ but moved to New­town, Welling­ton.

At Welling­ton Col­lege, Hami Grace played for the first XV rugby team and first XI cricket team, the Auck­land Mu­seum bi­og­ra­phy notes. His bowl­ing record was the stuff of leg­end but it was the skills he ac­quired as part of the col­lege’s shoot­ing team that would serve him most in war.

Af­ter his school years, he went on to play the New Zealand Ma¯ ori rugby tour­ing team but events a world away were about to sig­nif­i­cantly al­ter – and even­tu­ally end – his life.

On June 28, 1914, Arch­duke Franz Fer­di­nand and his wife So­phie were as­sas­si­nated in Sara­jevo and soon the Great War was un­der way.

Grace signed up un­der Lieu­tenant Colonel Mal­one and – in those more-racist days – it was no­table that he joined the Welling­ton Reg­i­ment as a sec­ond lieu­tenant.

‘‘Hami’s com­mis­sion­ing as a sec­ond lieu­tenant in a reg­u­lar army reg­i­ment sin­gles him out as a truly ex­cep­tional char­ac­ter,’’ the mu­seum’s bi­og­ra­phy states.

That ex­cep­tional tal­ent soon showed it­self at Quinn’s Post – above what is now An­zac Cove – where he formed counter-sniper teams against Turk­ish snipers.

Ac­cord­ing to his­to­rian Richard Stow­ers it was in June 2015 that Mal­one grew in­creas­ingly wor­ried about the Turk­ish snipers on Dead Man’s Ridge who picked his men off reg­u­larly.

‘‘Mal­one as­signed the task of sub­du­ing these Turk­ish snipers to his very ca­pa­ble Lieu­tenant Grace, who was well re­spected amongst his men as an ac­com­plished marks­man.

‘‘Grace or­gan­ised a group of hand-picked marks­men and po­si­tioned them in twos in strate­gic hid­ing places known as pot-holes, mostly within Monash Gully fac­ing Dead Man’s Ridge . . .

‘‘Within a few weeks, the en­emy’s snip­ing had been so com­pletely sup­pressed that traf­fic in the val­ley went un­in­ter­rupted through­out the day.’’

Grace’s own words paint the pic­ture of a hum­ble man amid an hor­rific – and some­times ba­nal – bat­tle.

On April 27 – 103 days be­fore his death – he wrote: ‘‘Ca­su­al­ties yes­ter­day were about 450 killed and wounded – the of­fi­cers suf­fer­ing heav­ily es­pe­cially Auck­land . . . [8am] We went like blaz­ers up a steep hill (400 feet) prac­ti­cally un­der fire the whole way!

‘‘When we reached the top . . . the bul­lets were fly­ing in all direc­tions – the men fell ev­ery­where it was aw­ful! The wounded and dead lay in clus­ters. It’s try­ing when men are shot along­side you.’’

And the next day – a Fri­day and 102 days be­fore his death: ‘‘Had a bathe to­day un­der rather re­mark­able con­di­tions! Some snipers had some­how worked right up on our left flank and from their po­si­tion could pip at us swim­ming!

‘‘No-one paid much at­ten­tion to them and con­tin­ued their re­spec­tive op­er­a­tions! Some were wash­ing their clothes and rins­ing them af­ter­wards in a bar­rel of dis­in­fec­tant to chase out those man eat­ing beasts com­monly known as ‘lice’. Four men were hit be­fore the snipers were cleared out. It’s mar­vel­lous how care­less one be­comes.’’

Fifty-eight days out – Fri­day June 11, 1915: ‘‘In my ram­bling, I of­ten come across some lonely grave with ei­ther a ri­fle butt as a tomb­stone or two crossed sticks! It’s all very pa­thetic + sad!

‘‘In one spot there is a reg­u­lar ceme­tery of N. Zealan­ders + Aus­tralians all to­gether. At the top of Walker’s ridge if you turn and look sea­wards the beau­ti­ful Aegean Sea stretches for miles, with an is­land here + there all sig­ni­fy­ing peace + rest.

‘‘Turn about and all the hor­rors of war greet you.’’

Grace was killed in ac­tion at Chunuk Bair. He has no known grave but his mem­ory is com­mem­o­rated at Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memo­rial Panel 17.

And, of course, in his own words in a small and time-worn di­ary be­hind glass at Welling­ton Col­lege.

AC Pro­duc­tions’ story of Hami Grace and oth­ers screens on Ma¯ ori TV at 7pm to­mor­row.

Ma¯ori sol­diers in the trenches dur­ing World War 1. Many were part of the Welling­ton In­fantry Bat­tal­ion and were killed in ac­tion on Au­gust 8, 1915 in the sec­ond year of World War I at Gal­lipoli, Turkey. Ace sniper Hami Grace

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