Ar­mistice poppy wall at pit rim stays

Waihi Leader - - News - By CARMEN HALL [email protected]­hileader.co.nz

The Poppy Wall by the Martha Pit Rim will stay, and proud fam­i­lies of war de­scen­dants were given replica pop­pies dur­ing Ar­mistice Day com­mem­o­ra­tions on Sun­day.

Project leader of the Lions Club World War I Cen­ten­nial ini­tia­tive, Kevin Cor­ney, said Lions came up with the plan four years ago.

“We de­cided to find out all of the names of the peo­ple from our com­mu­nity that went to the war and we wanted to make pop­pies for each of them. I didn’t just want it to be those that were killed in ac­tion but all of those who had served.”

They wanted the memo­rial to be vis­ual and it took a lot of time and help from the Auck­land War Memo­rial Mu­seum.

“In our re­search there were 420 peo­ple from this com­mu­nity who went over­seas. It’s not a de­fin­i­tive list as we made our cut-off who were liv­ing in the greater Waihi area when they en­listed.”

The feed­back about the pop­pies had been fan­tas­tic, he said. The project co­in­cided with the Lions’ 50th an­niver­sary in Waihi and ini­tially the pop­pies were go­ing to be taken down af­ter Ar­mistice Day but would stay due to pub­lic sup­port.

He ac­knowl­edged the work of fel­low Lions and says it was great to give about 60 pop­pies back to fam­ily mem­bers.

Al­lan Mor­peth’s fa­ther Ger­ald sur­vived the war, Gal­lipoli and the Somme. He kept a di­ary of his ex­pe­ri­ence that wasn’t dis­cov­ered un­til 2000 which Alan pub­lished in 2008.

En­ti­tled The Wai­hea­thens at Gal­lipoli it re­counts how Ger­ald went to war with brothers Al­lan, Ge­orge, Robert, Moore and Sloan. Al­lan and Moore were killed in ac­tion.

“He was very strict with me and when I read the di­ary, I thought I am a chip off the old block. His di­ary was re­ally in­ter­est­ing and pretty wild be­cause he had a great writ­ing flair.”

“The bombs are bad, shrap­nel, ri­fle and maxim fire can­not get you in a good trench but a bomb in a trench is bad. Best scheme is to put an over­coat or sack over the bomb and jump away and lie flat as quick as you can.” Al­lan ac­cepted pop­pies on be­half of his fa­ther and­his un­cle Sloan.

“Mov­ing” was how Chris Inglis de­scribed ac­cept­ing three pop­pies along­side her sis­ter Lau­ren and mother Ruth. The trio hon­oured their great un­cles John Ni­chol­son, killed in ac­tion and An­gus who made it home, plus Ruth’s fa­ther Robert.

PHO­TOS/CARMEN HALL

Chris Inglis (cen­tre) ac­cepted three pop­pies along­side her sis­ter Lau­ren and mother Ruth.

Al­lan Mor­peth’s fa­ther Ger­ald sur­vived the war and bat­tles at Gal­lipoli and the Somme.

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