The uncle I never met
During this time of remembrance, my thoughts go to an uncle of mine and to many others from a forgotten group, who lie buried in Featherston Cemetery.
Of course, I never met my mother’s brother, Second Lieutenant James Alexander Melville, who cannot be officially remembered as a war casualty.
Having been in the army in Egypt and survived several of the Great War battles, he returned to New Zealand in 1918 and went in to Featherston Camp. There, 165 soldiers succumbed to the influenza which swept the world and had been carried home on troop ships.
My mother told me of the horrendous train journey she and her mother took from Rotorua to Featherston to see him, only to find they were too late. They weren’t allowed to see his body. He had passed away just days after the Armistice was signed, aged 26.
Over the years I and other family members have made the pilgrimage to that cemetery, where J A Melville is one of 165 buried there and remembered on a special memorial.
I sincerely trust that group know that they are not forgotten.
Margaret Melville Dunton, Tauranga