Anzac display for Bay troops

By Kiri Gillespie

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The story of a local soldier injured in battle during World War I is on display at Tauranga City Library to commemorate Anzac Day.

The display includes a letter Rifleman Charles Christopher Thomas Davies wrote to his parents.

He wrote the postcard on 21 February, 1918, while recovering at Hornchurch Military Hospital in England after he was hit by shell fragments on the battlefield.

It's been almost 100 years since Rifleman Davies, nicknamed "The Dinks", served in the member of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF).

His records have been fished out from more than 35,000 artefacts from the Tauranga Heritage Collection by curator Fiona Kean and Katherine Tham from Tauranga City Libraries.

Mrs Kean said Rifleman Davies was one of about 500 Tauranga men who fought in World War I.

About 20 per cent of these men were killed in action.

"[Rifleman Davies'] story is a story that's been replicated by a lot of people and by sharing his story we are also remembering the others who fought and lost their lives in the war.

"There's quite a number of people who were from Tauranga [who fought and died in the war] but the information just doesn't exist ... and I haven't finished my research yet but there are 90 on the war memorial at The Domain Gates and I know of more names of people who died and are not named on the memorial there," she said.

Originally a farmer from Taranaki, Rifleman Davies moved to Tauranga after Alf Smith, the husband of his sister Flora Smith, was killed in World War I. Records show Rifleman Davies enlisted on 11 October, 1915 and served three years and 26 days before he was medically discharged on November 5, 1918.

The Tauranga Heritage Collection holds Rifleman Davies' British War Medal and his Victory Medal.

These family treasures were donated to the museum in 1969 by his sister.

The display will be on show until after Anzac Day on April 25.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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