WWI: Father's goodbye was not forever

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Fred Arnold (right) and William Arnold with William's wife Ivy.
Fred Arnold (right) and William Arnold with William's wife Ivy.

The grandfather and great-uncle of Whangamata woman Leslie Rogers both served during World War I, with Fred in the army and grandfather William running away to sea to join the English Navy, where he served on minesweepers.

Another relation, Alfred Tatersall, who was born on March 7, 1879 in Auckland, also served.

He grew up in Waihou near Te Aroha, married Florence in 1907 at Te Aroha and when he went off to the war he had a daughter, six-year-old Muriel.

A transcript of a letter he wrote to Muriel before being dispatched to the Dardanelles as a major in the 4th Waikato Mounted Rifles makes poignant reading.

"Thank you dear little one for the nice letter you have sent me. Your daddy dear has orders to go to the Dardanelles to fight Turks and Germans and it is very likely that they will kill daddy.

Now I want you to be a good girlie and help mother all you can, and don't annoy her or say nasty things to her, and don't always have to be told to do things, always see what you can do to help her, and don't let her be lonely or sad.

Be good to poor grandma, love her for daddy's sake, and help her to forget, and don't let her be lonely either, be a sunbeam for mother and grandma.

If daddy never comes home again you will know that some dirty Turk or German has shot him, don't cry too much, we will meet again sometime if not on earth, I hope in heaven.

Don't always be wanting things that mummy perhaps won't have money to buy for you, because it will hurt her not being able to get it for you, and be good to her, and if daddy falls he will wait for you at heaven's gate.

Good-bye dear little soul, daddy was sorry to leave you and mummy, but duty called and daddy had to go.

Fondest love to my dear little daughter, from daddy."

Alfred survived, returned home and the couple had another child (a boy, name unknown) who was 34 when Alfred died at the age of 73. Muriel was 44 at his death.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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