Waihi local shed light on father’s war story
To commemorate those who served in the Great war, the Waihi Leader is printing a story, originally published in 2013, about Waihi resident Robin Straker’s father, Jack Straker.
There were strange forces at work on Anzac Day for Robin Straker.
He had just returned from attending the dawn parade at Waihi RSA when he received a call from his brother Mervyn, who lives in Hampshire, UK.
Mervyn told Robin four bodies had been reburied after being found at Arras, France.
Two of the bodies had been identified as members of the Honourable Artillery Company, City of London — the same regiment Robin and Mervyn’s father was a member of.
Jack Straker went off to war as a 16 year old, lying about his age so he could get into the regiment.
He fought in Arras but returned to the UK when his horse crushed his knee in 1917. He remained on light duties in the UK for the remainder of the war.
The four soldiers died together in a German attack on British lines southeast of the French city of Arras on May 15, 1917.
Their bodies were dug up accidentally by a farmer in 2009. Two of the soldiers had been identified as John Pritchard, 31 and Douglas Elphick, 28. All four soldiers were reburied this year, with full military honours.
Robin Straker now wonders if his father, Jack, came across any of the Waihi Tunnelling Company soldiers, who were in Arras at the same time. Many years after his father served, Robin spent three years in the territorials of the same regiment.
“Dad never spoke about his time during the war,” he says.
“All we knew was the regiment he was in and that he had spent time in France but nothing more. It is intriguing to learn about these soldiers who were in the same regiment, at the same time and that they were in Arras, France.”
Dad never spoke about his time during the war. All we knew was the regiment he was in and that he had spent time in France more.’ but nothing
A line-up of mounted soldiers from the Honourable Artillery Company, City of London. Jack Straker is fourth from the left.