When Garry Casey's uncle died in World War I, he left behind a mystery that Garry would like to solve.
Garry, who lives in Cambridge, says his uncle Karl William Frank was the oldest son of Charles and Katherine Frank, farmers in the Strathmore area of the Stratford District.
As the name Frank indicates, Karl was of German descent, but had volunteered to fight for his new country. He
served as a private in the Wellington Regiment, 2 Battallion of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces. In February 1917 he left New Zealand bound for Plymouth in the UK on the troop convoy vessel the Aparima, and then went on to fight in France. Like so many other soldiers, Karl never returned from battle and was buried at the Trois Arbres Cemetery in Steenwerck, northern France.
Garry, who was born in Stratford, says Karl's face will be familiar to many in Stratford as a photo of him is on permanent display in the town.
"His framed photograph is on show among those of so many other young unfulfilled lives in the Hall of Remembrance in Stratford."
Garry knows that Karl died from battle wounds on August 16, 1917, at the age of 28. His parents outlived him by many years, and Garry's research has found out plenty of information about Charles and Katherine.
A newspaper article reveals they went on to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary when Charles was just under 80 years old. Katherine was 70 at the time. Charles moved to New Zealand from Germany in 1874, first settling in Palmerston North before moving to Taranaki in 1883. He and Katherine married at the Methodist Church in Stratford in 1888, settling in Huiakama where they took possession of a 100 acre (40ha) section under the Government Settlement Scheme. They were the first married couple to settle in Huiakama and went on to raise a family of 16 there.
Garry says although there is plenty of information about Karl's parents and siblings, he has been unable to find out anything about two other people who would also have grieved his death.
"I have a photo of Karl, taken in Wellington before he went overseas to fight. In the photo with him is a woman, identified as being Rose Ellis. I would love to know what happened to Rose."
Garry's research has revealed that Rose gave birth to a daughter, Vera, at some point in 1917. He has photos of them, but cannot find out any further information on either of them.
"Despite my efforts, and those of people far more experienced at this than me, we have been unable to fnd any information, not even a marriage license or birth registration. The photos prove they existed, but we have nothing else."
Garry says he would like to find out more about either woman, and wonders if any Stratford Press readers might be able to help with information about Rose or Vera.
"Maybe a descendant of Rose or Vera is also looking for long lost relatives, or maybe someone remembers knowing Rose or Vera at some point. I would love to know what happened to them, how they managed after Karl's death and if there are other relatives out there connected to myself and Karl."
Garry can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can send any information to him c/o The Stratford Press PO Box 300, Stratford, 4332 and we will pass it on.