Friday, April 25, 2008

Lest We Forget.

I dont know what it is about ANZAC day that makes me so misty eyed but I cant watch footage of the diggers marching so proudly, displaying their well deserved medals without getting a lump in my throat.

I am especially proud of my Dad. An SAS Paratrooper in Vietnam and Borneo, he was a great soldier and is an amazing man.

My brother took my nephew to the dawn service this morning to see his Grandad march. How I wish I could have been there. It would have meant a lot to Dad to have them there.

On another note, I was talking to my Mum the other day and she mentioned she was transcribing an old letter on the computer as it was falling to bits.
She send me a copy and wow. Amazing. This was sent to my Great Great Grandfather by a man whose life he saved on the beach that day...

Port Chalmers
21st December 1917

Dear Sargt Major

I regret that I must have appeared very long winded in answering your welcome letter. I have for some time been moving round the country and your letter has been following me up.

I am exceedingly pleased to learn that you are alive and well and still more pleased to know that you are back in New Zealand.

From time to time I have made enquiries concerning you, but until now when your letter arrived, I have been unable to locate you. When you bound me up I must have misunderstood what you said for I looked for you in the Wellington Infantry, to which I thought that you said you belonged. I was very disappointed (illegible) and I thought I must have mistaken the name.

I find now that I have the most pleasant but difficult task of trying to thank you for the very prompt, careful and fearless way you tackled the dressing of my wound and saw to my despatch to the dressing station while under that heavy shrapnel fire on that memorable afternoon. Had it not have been for your ready and able assistance I think it very probable that I should have never seen New Zealand again.

I will relate to you the events as best I can remember them as they happened from the time you attended to me at the dressing station. They evidentally did not think much of my chances of living for I have since heard that they put me out as dead. Since the report you heard – I was then left lying somewhere down on the beach, where Indian mule trains kept passing. The Turks opened fire on these just as they came near me. Many of the shells burst quite near me but fortunately nothing touched me. For a time it was a perfect hell lying there but fortunately after a time nature came to the rescue and I lost consciousness. From then on I lost count of time. I seemed to be left on the beach a very long time. I remember my thirst and my being hoisted aboard a hospital ship where they afterwards found another hole in me. I was then taken to Egypt but of the trip I remember practically nothing. I could have been only a few days ‘trip’, but I remember very little about it except it seemed ages before I was shaken to life in a motor ambulance in Alexandria. I spent about a month in Alexandria during which time septic poisoning set in and a fever developed. They then hurried me aboard the hospital ship “Letitia’ (?) bound for England. Two days out they operated on me for the first time and I believe found quite a lot. I picked up slightly after that but it was only after many more months in the Endsleigh Palace Hospital in Euston, London, during which time I had three further operations, also developed pleurisy, that I at last became somewhat convalescent.

When I became sufficiently strong I made my way by easy stages to Inverness via Liverpool, Glasgow and Stirling. I came back to London via Aberdeen, Edinburgh and York. I eventually left Plymouth for New Zealand on the ‘Arawa’.. We had a splendid passage out and that trip did more for me than a hundred doctors could have done.

I then stayed at home for nearly a month after which I was packed off to Rotorua for about four and a half months, after which somehow I was appointed to a position on the Temporary Staff as Area Officer with headquarters at Port Chalmers. I had been an Area Officer for about three months when I was appointed District Attesting Officer and for months I travelled around with the Medical Board. I am now back to my area at Port Chalmers and as it is a country area I get quite a lot of moving around.

Although I can hardly hope to regain all my former strengths and good health I am very well satisfied with the progress I have made for my health is indeed very fair.

I regret very much that your name has not appeared in the lists of those who have had the luck to have their good work in the field recognised by being awarded a decoration or some distinction. It is relieving in a way to know that yours is not an isolated case of merit passing unnoticed but still is more or less annoying for yourself and for those who know of your good work.

However your coolness and good work will not be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to be assisted by you. I for one shall always remember you with deep feelings of gratefulness and will ever be watchful for an opportunity to repay you in some slight degree for the services you so gallantly rendered me at the time when I was lying wounded on Gallipoli.

I will ask you to accept a small gift, a token which will remind you that at least someone appreciated your work on that fearful day. In choosing a present I am confronted with the difficulty of not knowing whether you are single or married. Would you please let me know as soon as possible which state of bliss you enjoy. The gift I have in view is suitable chiefly for a married man. When the reply is received I shall have great pleasure in forwarding to you a small gift which will serve as a token of my gratitude. On no account however must you think that the value of it is the value I set on the very great service you rendered to me.

I trust that you are enjoying good health. Also that I may hear from you very shortly.
My address is (Rank illegible) F L Hunt
Area Officer
Port Chalmers

Sincerely yours
Frank L Hunt

PS I am further in your debt for you bringing back my belongings. I had long since given them up for lost. You will understand how very pleased I shall be to get them when I explain that the revolver was the gift of a brother officer and a great friend, in Dunedin. The binoculars the present of an officer in the same company, while the Kodak was the present of my brother. My dad had given me the watch but its loss I do not mind one scrap – he can give me another if I get away again.

Of any expense that you have incurred on my behalf please let me have a note and I will square up. Send the above collect when sending.


Lest We Forget

No comments: