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.

Waihi Leader - - Front Page -

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

ROBIN STRAKER

PHOTO / FILE.

A line-up of mounted soldiers from the Honourable Ar­tillery Com­pany, City of Lon­don. Jack Straker is fourth from the left.

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