By WAYNE THOMPSON
When Martin Lawes was a boy on the North Shore, he had an Anzac Day ritual. His ex-Royal Navy father would send him to a country road to polish a brass plaque in memory of a soldier who was killed in Belgium in the First World War.
Later, the family would lay a wreath on the plaque, although the North Shore man named on it, Lieutenant Hugh Alexander Forrest, was neither known nor related to them.
But Mr Lawes' father felt Mr Forrest's sacrifice in 1917, in the Battle of Passchendaele, was worthy of respect. The plaque and its mounting, which Mr Lawes had to paint, disappeared during roadworks in the 1950s.
But a replica is to be restored to the side of Forrest Hill Rd, which was named after the 23-year-old soldier whose father was the Devonport postmaster.
Mr Lawes, now a Takapuna restaurateur, said yesterday that he badgered the North Shore City Council for 18 months to replace the plaque.
"If it was good enough for the council back in 1919 to install the plaque and to name the road after Mr Forrest, then it should be good enough for this council to replace it," said Mr Lawes.
Takapuna Community board chair Margaret Field recommended the move, which was approved by the board on Wednesday. She said the Takapuna Borough Council of 1919 named Forrest Rd the same day as Hart Rd, Sanders Ave, Jellicoe Rd, Pierce Rd and Jutland Rd.
Although living relatives of Mr Forrest were not found, records show he was a solicitor's clerk for Morpeth Gould.
He went overseas in February 1917 with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force 22nd Reinforcements.
Killed in action on October 12, he was buried near Ypres, in Belgium.
Mr Lawes said he would ask local scouts to keep the plaque in good order.
By WAYNE THOMPSON