Mystery over Greytown’s unknown soldier
‘‘I would think about it every so often and worry I hadn’t done enough to find out who he was.’’
A tattered old photo of a proud young soldier found in a Greytown garage has a new lease on life as an object of curiosity.
Wairarapa woman Glenda Wenden was handed the discoloured and worn photo by an acquaintance about 20 years ago and always wondered who he was and what happened to him.
‘‘They told me they thought it was a member of my husband’s family because they had found the photo in the garage of his old family home on Main Street in Greytown.’’
Not having the means or knowhow to research it Wenden largely forgot about the picture, though every now and again she would regret that she hadn’t found out the mystery man’s story.
‘‘I would think about it every so often and worry I hadn’t done enough to find out who he was and as time passed I thought there was less chance I would be able to find out.
‘‘Sadly the only thing written on the back of the photo is a 10 centimetre squiggle mark, like someone has marked it off or something. There is no other writing.’’
Earlier this year Wenden decided to pass the photo on to Carterton history buff Adele Pentony-Graham. She pleas via social media and other avenues but has so far found nothing that sheds any light on the soldier’s identity.
Now though there is new hope after the photo was sent to leading New Zealand military historian Neil Frances.
He said the intriguing, handcoloured photo was taken by a professional photographer either just prior to World War 1 or during the war years.
The soldier was most likely a mounted rifleman as he was in possession of a Lee-Enfield SMLE rifle along with what looked to be a No.1 bayonet with a 17-inchblade and spurs on his boots, Frances said.
‘‘The headgear looks like a slouch hat, as opposed to a lemon- squeezer, one side is partly-turned up, but not pinned-up. I can’t see any hat or lapel badges so the unit would be hard to identify.
‘‘The bell tent behind was the standard army tent and there is not enough of the landscape to suggest a location. It could be Tauherenikau Camp, Trentham, Papawai or Canvas Camp.
‘‘Or it may be a pre-war photo of a territorial mounted rifleman taken at one of the large camps held just before WW1. It looks like a professional photographer took it and the hand-colouring also suggests a professional treatment.’’
If anyone recognises the man or has any further information on the photo email email@example.com