Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Maternal Grandfather


John Hannah
My Maternal Grandfather

My Parents' Wedding Day
showing my Grandfather
John Hannah (aged 72)
on the right,

and on the left
my Paternal grandparents

John Hannah
Born 1878
Died 1958

My grandfather had been a farmer
until he served
in the New Zealand infantry
in the first world war

This is his Soldier's Pay Book
for use on active service

The Training card shows that
in 1917
he passed his:

Medical inspection
Dental inspection
Live Bombing
PTG (?)
Bayonet Fighting
Lewis Gun Proficiency
and a further Medical

New Zealand Infantry
in Flers, France 1916
ready to 'go over the top'

Army Form W.3066

states that he has the equipment
and clothing necessary

except for:

Rifle and Bayonet
2 Gas Helmets
2 Rockets
Ground sheet

all of which he must have later received,
by August 1917
except for the ground sheet

New Zealand soldiers
in the trenches
France, 1917

The soldier is told
he must have this book
whenever he requires
a cash advance

It also tells us
he was 39 years of age,
not a young soldier...

The daily pay
for privates in the infantry
was 5 shillings (50c)

with a deduction of 3 shillings
he received a net rate
of 2 shillings per day

this page shows the inoculations
that he received
prior to active service
I can see TB mentioned
a number of times

then follows a record
of cash payments made
for the period
from Feb 17th 1917
June 4th 1919

when he was discharged
on account of wounds
received in action
after serving
a total of
one year
and 293 days
in active service abroad

Back in New Zealand
he eventually married
and my mother was born in 1930
the second child,
after a son,
by which time he was already
fifty two years old,
and followed later
by another daughter

They lived in Sumner, Christchurch
where he took up market gardening,
growing flowers and vegetables

I remember only a little
of my grandfather
as he passed away
at 80 years of age
before I was five years old.

He was tall
and softly spoken
had a limp
and a walking stick
He lived with us
in a room my father built
on the rear of the house,
which has always
been referred to as
'Grandad's Room'

The dress hat
for the soldiers
of the New Zealand Infantry
was called the Lemon Squeezer...



  1. Delwyn,
    This was such a facinating post, it's easy to see that the memory of him is being lovingly cared for with all these photos and words.

    It's especially lovely that you have a part of him in his very own writing.

    I think you've made a beautiful tribute here.

    thank you for sharing.

  2. Delwyn,

    I'd like to echo that said by Lori ann. This is a touching tribute to your grandfather and a well documented summary of his time in military service.

    My great grandfather (1881-1924) fought in WWI. He too was in his 30s when he joined up but succumbed to his wounds six years after the end of the conflict.

    Posts like this will help to ensure that their generation is never forgotten.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hello Lori ann

    Recently when visiting my parents in NZ I was given a package of documents which has inspired these posts from the past. I also wrote one on my Paternal Grandmother who was quite a woman- the post may have been before your visits started.
    I think that most of the entries in the Soldiers Book would have been made by the clerks.

    Thanks for your interest today Lori ann

    Happy days

  4. Hi Martin

    Your G Grandfather and my Grandfather were born about the same time...and both fought in the same war, on the same side, but coming from opposite sides of the world...

    There are now very few - just one or two I think of the ANZACs alive. The ANZACs were the NZ and Au troops, particularly those that fought at the doomed Galipoli invasion in Turkey...

    There has been a great resurgence in interest and affection for the ANZACs and they are fondly and respectfully remembered every year on ANZAC day...

    Thank you for your additions today Martin.

    Happy days

  5. You are so lucky to have these documents to remind you of your grandfather but also as a key to a very distant past. These things are so precious.

  6. Martin

    I spelled Gallipoli wrongly sorry.
    The Gallipoli landing was on April 25, 1915, my Grandfather was fortunate to have served later than that.

    The landing site is now called ANZAC Cove.

    They were doomed from the start...

    There is a lot of very interesting info in google on the ANZACs.

    Happy days

  7. Hello Jelica

    recovered yet?

    Yes they are precious, my kids can't see that yet but give them another 40 years and they will...

    I was talking to beloved recently about the amount of info the future generations will have access to through all the posts that appear via blogging - even the Aliens can see who and what we are...!!

    Happy days

  8. Wow Delwyn, you know I love these type of posts. So beautiful and touching - I love the bits of papers etc. perhaps its because for some its all one has. My maternal grandfather also fought in WW 1 for NZ, and there were many other similarities with your GF.., mine a farmer from Timaru, also a very gentle and softly spoken man who came back to grow flowers and vegetables. What a wonderful tribute and piece of history.

  9. Hi Gleaner

    Oh that's interesting. What was the family name of your relatives in Timaru. My Dad may know of them. He grew up in Timaru.

    John Hannah farmed out at Southbridge just under Banks Peninsula...

    I'm glad you enjoyed this post Gleaner...

    Happy days

  10. Fascinating story. I am a sucker for people's ancestors, maybe because I've recently started working on my family tree. Many thanks for such informative and interesting post.

    Greetings from London.

  11. Delwyn, I'm pretty sure he was (perhaps the chief) gardener at the gardens in Timaru - are they called Botanical? and he was known as Bert, but this was a long time ago. I will write a post one day, although you have me wondering where and why I haven't any photos of their wedding - and how I can find a copy of one. I do love old photos with stories.

  12. Oh, I just remembered I think he had a small farm at fairview? - outside of Timaru, I think.

  13. Hi Mr C

    Don't you find that history becomes so much more meaningful when you can insert real people into it...

    I look forward to hearing of your roots one day...

    Happy days

  14. Gleaner

    My father will be interested to hear of this story. I will email him at his rest home and explain it...thanks Gleaner

    Happy days

  15. Really enjoyed that post, You must be doing your family tree with all that wonderful information.

  16. Hello Ann

    No, I have had this book for a long while and the documents my mother gave me about my grandmother whom I wrote on recently, spurred me on to retrieve the soldier's book and write about this grandparent too...

    Good to see you again Ann

    Happy days

  17. I love history and family mementos the combination of both in your post were of great interest...appreciated knowing the history of your paternal grandmother beforehand also...It's nice to have such a photo...of your parents and grandparents together Delwyn. Your mother was a beautiful bride.
    Had also enjoyed your visit back to Christchurch with your daughter to see your parents...Hope they are doing well.


  18. What an interesting history of your Grandfather's war time experience. You speak so lovingly and tenderly about him - such a tribute to his memory.

  19. Hello Wanda

    You are an early riser...

    The wedding photo has placed all family members in the full glare of the sun unfortunately and the men's suits look rather crumpled but it is good to see the whole group together.

    The woman on the right next to my grandfather was his sister in law. My mother's mother died when Mum was only 16 and grandfather raised the three children even though he was elderly, and against advice that they should be split up and cared for elsewhere.
    He did a good job and that particular unmarried aunt of Mum's was very good to her. She was also a fine artist. I have one of her paintings of poppies.

    My mother has a beautiful nature and her friends and neighbours are so incredibly good to her at present. I told her that this beneficence is in return for all the goodness she has expended over the years to others.

    thanks for visiting Wanda. I love our chats...
    Happy days

  20. Hi Bonnie

    I don't remember much of him - one vivid memory - my final one, is the ambulance taking him to Dad growled at me for wanting to see him leave and I felt heartbroken...
    But I do remember the feelings he engendered...just like my Mum does actually - soft and gentle, kind and warm feelings...enveloping...

    Happy days

  21. hello delwyn, my dad used to talk about what he called "genetic memory" or the way in which we carry memories that are founded in the experiences of our ancestors. i read of your grandfather's growing flowers and vegetables and thought - well that doesn't surprise me at all given delwyn's deep connection to flowers and vegetables as evidenced by countless love letters to flowers and vegetables written right here!!! have a peaceful evening by the river delwyn. steven

  22. Delwyn:

    Me again. Just want to add how much I appreciate that you share these tender, private memories - like wanting to see your grandfather as he left for the hospital and being rebuffed. It says alive in us forever.

    I barely knew grandparents on either side of the family. My paternal grandmother a concert pianist died in childbirth. My maternal grandparents were too beaten down by life to show much interest in their grandchildren. So I enjoy hearing your treasured memories and seeing how reverently you care for some of the tangible evidence of their lives, that they left behind.

    Big hug - B.

  23. Hi Steven

    I agree with you Steven. I think we receive many blueprints.
    I think I inherit those flower and veg. genes from both sides of the family. My father and his father were both marvellous gardeners too.
    I have the double double whammy - no wonder flowers and plants seem to fill my days...

    Happy days Steven

  24. Thank you Bonnie

    the memory of crouching backwards in the high backed chair in the corner of the dining room peering out the window as they stretchered my Grandfather into the ambulance is clear and painful...and came flashing back, along with the growl of my father, as I was writing to you...

    I am sorry you didn't experience the warm love and care of grandparents. My Dad's parents were a big part of my life and gave me many strong and valued reference points for the importance of family, fun, the outdoors, and story telling...

    Happy days

  25. It's so fascinating to get a snapshot of a family member's life who lived fairly long ago. We have my father-in-law's medical school notes from WW2 time - and they give a similar glimpse into his life and the era.

    Thanks for sharing this. And, thanks for your nice note on my blog.

  26. This is so very beautiful, Delwyn. It's always a great idea to honor the ancestors, especially at this time of year. He sounds like a very good soul.

    WWI was not a fun war to be involved in. Seeing the pictures of the trenches and all the pages from his soldier's book brought up so many emotions for me! I believe I was a European nurse during that war, also not such a fun job, though better than being a soldier.

    But your grandfather survived, had children, gardened even though he sustained injuries. Wow.

    So glad he did! Otherwise you would not be here.

    Thanks for the beautiful story. What is remembered, lives!

  27. Thank you for a personal look at a good man.

  28. You have some remarkable artifacts here -- family heirlooms. There is a feeling of connectedness that I get when I see something that has been signed by any of my relatives, especially those that I didn't know or didn't know well. Being able to hold something that belonged to them makes me feel like we have a relationship and that somehow they know who I am.

    I loved this post Delwyn.

  29. That paybook is a mine of information and helps to "bring your grandfather to life" in ways few things ever could.

    I've traced my family genealogy back to the 1600's and it is very frustrating when all you have for a person is their dates of birth, marriage and death.

  30. How fascinating! It's wonderful that you have photos.

  31. What a blessing to have a hero - a true HERO - in your family, Delwyn. I am inspired and grateful as I read your post. My grandfather served in Bar le Deux in France in 1917-18. Their contribution to service is as much a contribution to family, isn't it?

    Best to you, EFH

  32. What a true gift this post is! To have loved ones pay tribute to the memory of past loved ones in this way is very kind and loving and will be a part of your family history forever. What interesting facts and memorabilia you have in your possession. Its as though you did know him :)

  33. Great write up! It is so interesting to see and understand what the soldiers in that time went through. They were very strong individuals then. I fear that we have lost that edge!My father was in the air force. I have a lot if his pictures and memoir from that time. Whenever I read them and see where he was and what took place I find it so hard to imagine he was only 21!

  34. Great write up! It is so interesting to see and understand what the soldiers in that time went through. They were very strong individuals then. I fear that we have lost that edge!My father was in the air force. I have a lot if his pictures and memoir from that time. Whenever I read them and see where he was and what took place I find it so hard to imagine he was only 21!

  35. Hi Delwyn,

    I was refering only to his siginature. I should have said. ☺

  36. You're right, I think our grandchildren will have way too much information about us. Just imagine keeping up with all our blog, facebook, twitter and god knows what other trails...

  37. Lori ann

    thanks for telling me that because it made me go and look closely at the signature which is written very similar to my mothers hand...

    Happy days

  38. Hi Lorac

    It does show us something of their characters and strengths...and such terrible conditions they lived and fought in...

    Happy days

  39. Hi Vicky

    You are right - these bits and pieces keep us attached to the past in a tangible way and remind us of the details of past lives...and then we can pass that information on...

    Happy days

  40. Hi Expat

    you are so right, they were all heroes...and we have inherited their strengths and devotion...I hope...

    Happy days

  41. Hello Euri and welcome to the chats here...

    I will come and visit you later after the gym...

    Happy days

  42. Hello Barry

    Yes those details made me think about his training and preparation and to see it written that he served 293 days in active service made me realise how wonderful it was that he survived. 293 days to wake up and face the enemy with the chance or probability that you might not live out the day...

    I haven't done any genealogy - maybe one day...

    Happy days

  43. Hello Cook - It made me think about and remember a fine man, so it is a treasure...

    Happy days

    Hello Golden West

    and welcome to my corner of the world. It is a pleasure to meet you...

    Happy days

  44. Hi Sherry

    Yes when I hold that book I know that it travelled with this man, on his person possibly for all his service makes the past shrink toward the present...for a moment...

    Happy days

  45. Hello Reya

    It must have been a hideous place to be Reya...for all...

    and yes he did marry and have children and raise them himself after his wife's death, and have grandchildren... and one of them remembers and honours him this day...

    thanks for your comments today Reya

    Happy days

  46. What riches of family history you have!

  47. What a beautiful and fascinating post! Thank you for sharing it with us. You are so fortunate to know so much of your history and have documentation for it...just fabulous!

    You have a wonderful blog! I will be back often!

    Have a Happy Day!

  48. What a beautiful tribute you've paid your grandfather, saving his things, recounting his life.

    He'd be very proud and tickled by your post.

  49. Your post makes me very nostalgic. It makes me think of my own grandparents. In all good writing, there is something universal. Isn't it amazing the tiny amount of money they were paid for their service!

  50. Hi Delwyn~ You look just like your mother! How lovely she was on her wedding day.
    My grandfather enlisted for WWI, but the Armistice was signed before he was sent overseas. I didn't realize New Zealand was engaged! Bill thinks that the PTG on your grandfather's military passport stands for Personal Trench Gun. The men who were in the trenches had special 12-gauge rifles. This is a great memoir you've written for your family, Delwyn, something that will be treasured by all down through the generations.

  51. This post is a gem!

    Your historical society would probably love to see all you've done.

    God Bless your Dad.

    I have my dad's WWII "Dog Tags" and discharge pin....
    A privlege to read today. Thanks.


    Comfort Spiral

  52. Hi Cloudia

    at one time I thought that they might like the Soldier's pay book but I imagine they have many of them...

    Nice to chat to you today Cloudia

    Happy days

  53. Hello Margaret

    well that makes two very lucky men to have escaped with their lives from what must have been a hideous war...
    Thanks Billy for me for the PTG explanation...

    One day my kids will appreciate my musings - at the moment they are inclined to roll their eyes at the mention of the B word...

    Happy days

  54. Hi Barb

    I hope that a post like this does stir memories and curiosity in others...

    obviously people love to hear a bit of personal family history...I thought this post may have a very limited interest but look at all the great comments....

    I wonder how their families at home survived. There must have been pensions paid...

    Happy days

  55. Hi Rosarai

    strange that you should say that because I was telling my friend over lunch today about this post and I felt very close to my Grandad...he was there close by...and he lives in my Mother too...

    Happy days

  56. Hello Chicgeek and welcome to Qld Au.

    It is a pleasure to meet you and chat with you and learn about your hippie days...especially as I can set the context in my mind's eye...

    I need to look out some more family history now as this has proven to be very well read...

    Happy days

  57. Hi meri

    don't we all...

    how's that Mexican Fiesta going...

    Happy days

  58. you are lucky that you have so much information about your grandfather. I wish we knew more about my grandfather time severed in the army.

    I want to make a family tree and history book so the information we do have can be passed down to the future generations.

  59. Hi Liss

    I wonder if the armed services have an archive of this material...the RSA might give you a lead...
    I am glad I have hung on to that Soldier Pay Book for 30 years or could have easily been turfed out in one of my many major clean outs...

    Yesterday when the kids came around with birthday cheer both the daughters in law mentioned things off my blog, so while my sons aren't reading the material they are...and one of them said she told my son while she was reading about my grandfather that he should be reading his family history as it was his heritage...

    one day they will be interested... and the great thing in this electronic age is that it can't be lost now...

    Happy days

  60. Good post and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you for your information.

  61. Hi Anon

    it is a pleasure and thank you for stopping y to tell me so...

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