For Captain Les Jerram, January 1, 1943 in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp was "the strangest of all my New Years".
It was the middle of World War II and George Leslie Jerram, a Kiwi serving in the British colonial armed forces in Malaya, had been captured at Singapore the previous February.
In his diary entry for January 1, 1943, Jerram wrote of being interned in the jungle of Siam, now known as Thailand, "surrounded by brutality, death, disease and slow starvation".
Two months earlier, he wrote, "Dreadful looking wrecks of men everywhere, just able to crawl to the latrines".
And later in January 1943, "I am feeling better physically, but am terribly weak and run down, with no proper food for months. I am referred to as the 'old-man' by everyone; just imagine this at 49.
"I feel the cold terribly."
It was Jerram's second war and in both he became sick and lost a dangerous amount of weight.
He enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Auckland in August 1914, just days after World War I began.
Jerram served in the trenches of Gallipoli for a fortnight in May 1915, before he fell sick with the dysentery that would lead to his return home and eventual medical discharge from the armed forces, still weak, in 1916.
Dysentery and typhoid were common in the Gallipoli campaign because of poor sanitation, unburied bodies and swarms of flies.
In a vivid letter to his mother, Harriet, which is still treasured by the family, Sapper Jerram described landing at a small pier, marching through soft sand carrying all his gear, "the incessant swish-swish of bullets, like swarms of locusts passing overhead", and expanding a dug-out in which to take shelter.
Next day his unit of engineers was sent up to the firing line to oversee for several days the digging a sap - a trench - towards the Turkish front line.
"The Turks made a big attack at about 2am whilst I was in the sap and the bullets flew round me like hail.
"Now and then hand grenades were thrown, some of the Turks having crept quite close to us, two of these hit the parapet above me, but did no damage. Sometimes a bullet would zip along the trench, some sniper was on the go.
"Anyway the three men with me fixed bayonets and we waited expecting any minute to see the Turks rush on top of us, but they only got about 50 yards from our trenches before they were stopped by our rifle fire.
"At about 4am the firing died away and as it grew light we were able to look around. I had a look in front of us with a periscope and could see a large number of dead Turks.
"In fact the ground all round us is covered in dead who have not been buried, laying there since the first landing, all NZers, Aust and Turks in heaps together. I can see a dead NZer with his bayonet through a Turk about 25 yards in front of the sap we are running."
Simon Crispe, a grandson, said Jerram married and had a family after World War I. In 1925 he took up surveying in Malaya.
"Les was a wiry, strong and fit man. He loved Malaya and became a highly competent jungle traveller and navigator."
After the Japanese began to land in Malaya, Jerram and a group of 20 Europeans, Malays and Chinese trekked across mountainous country for a fortnight to Kuala Lumpur, where he destroyed maps and equipment in the surveying office to deny them to the Japanese forces.
They left in early January 1942 for Singapore, which was taken by Japan the following month. Jerram was imprisoned at Changi in Singapore for eight months before being moved around a succession of prisoner-of-war camps.
When he returned home to Auckland in September 1945 after his release at the end of the World War II, Jerram had shrunk to just 44.5kg. He was 69.9kg at the start of World War I, according to his military medical records.
Crispe said his grandfather had buried diary notes in a tin to conceal them from his Japanese captors and returned to dig them up after the war.
After a year in Auckland, he returned to Malaya to work in surveying, before coming back to Auckland and establishing a surveying firm. He died in 1978, aged 84.
• Family history company Ancestry.com has highlighted Jerram's military records. To commemorate Anzac Day, the company is offering free access, from April 23 to 28, to more than 26 million military records from New Zealand, Britain and Australia.
Archives New Zealand has copies of most New Zealand World War I service personnel records available online at no charge.