Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Anzac Day - dedicated to my grandfather

ANZAC day, April 25th, is a big deal in NZ and Australia. Lots of people get up before dawn to attend parades, services, and often drinking sessions, to honour those who served their country, or the British Empire as it was then. I rarely do, as I am a pacifist, but I do like to reflect on my grandparents, and the way people lived and thought back then. So I dug out some family photos, some over 100 years old.
 This is Gerald, in about 1916, looking quite dashing in his uniform. I still have the NZR badge on his shoulder - I think it stands for New Zealand Regiment.

 His medals, which are still in their original boxes. I just love that he has kept the original brown paper they were posted in. They have never been worn, as Grandad hated Anzac Day and never talked about the war. He must have been deeply traumatised by his experiences at the Somme in 1917. He was lucky to survive, and was invalided out with a medical condition.
 From the top: his gun club badge, RSA badges, gold cufflinks, and Lodge badge. I am so lucky to be the custodian of these mementoes. In the background is a 1940s red tweed coat of my mother's.
 Dad thinks Gerald is in the front row, 6th from the left. Dated 1911. Don't you love the cap?
 Gerald is in the front row, second from the left.
Note the bare feet, Peter Pan collar, hands on knees, and scowl - he had attitude!
The sign says 5, so this is dated about 1906.
The same shot, with hand-written names.
 In this shot, he is in the top right corner. Again with the attitude! That's where I get it from.
 Certificate of Proficiency, 1909, aged 13 years 7 months.
 He joined up a few years later, aged about 19.

 I really have no idea about this random photo, and I don't recognise anyone in it, but I love it.
It looks like the guys in the front row are holding golf clubs, but I am probably totally wrong.
Anyhoo, after returning from World War I, he married my grandmother, who was a bit of a sharpshooter, and a hockey and golf champion too.
He owned a butcher shop with his brother, and joined the Freemasons, becoming the Worshipful Master in 1940.
This newspaper cutting from 1942 from the family archives nearly broke my heart.
Can you imagine opening the morning paper to find that your friend or relation had been drafted into a war on the other side of the world?
This photo is of the pipe band at a compulsory military training camp at Burnham, Christchurch, in about 1955. That's my father in the front row, 5th from the left. He's a mad keen bagpiper.
My grandfather, on the left, after a duck shooting incident.
From the left: Ossie Throp, Lovell Hurring, Bill Throp, Grandad, and Ben Throp at the front.
Grandad won the Otago Rifle Club Championship in 1948.
He's on the left again, with the ever-present gun!
With Donald Campbell, Bill Telford, ? Campbell? and Wilson Elliot.  
Another duck massacre, slightly more casually dressed.
Christmas 1969, with Gerald, Ella, David and Beryl.
Note on the sideboard a photo of my parents' wedding and a couple of glass vases which I still have.
This is one of my favourite photos of my Grandad - he looks really happy.
I think this was taken at their golden wedding anniversary, in 1973.
I didn't know him very well, as I was about 13 when he died, one year after this. He was a formidable character, as was my grandmother. He was a voracious reader, mainly of Westerns (the shooting I suppose), and he collected miniature bottles. I remember him always pottering in the workshop / garage under the house, wearing his knitted stripy tam'o'shanter, with a smoke stuck to his lower lip.
He had amazing black eyebrows and piercing ice-blue eyes, no doubt inherited from his father who was born in northern Scotland. His mother was born in Guernsey, and they had 11 children.
Gerald had a huge garden, and grew beautiful dahlias and veges.
When I think about Anzac Day, I am very grateful that he survived the absolute horror of war.



  1. What wonderful photos - he was a handsome chap, your grandad Gerald. I'm glad he survived too. xxx

  2. I love old photos and these are no exception. What a handsome man he was. Love the women at shooting practice. x

    1. Thanks - there are plenty more where they came from!
      Enough photos and collections for a thousand blogs - it's getting hard to decide what to do next.

  3. This is a lovely tribute to your grandfather. You are right about the day being very important to us; it's thought here in Australia that it is the most significant day on our calendar.

    1. Thanks Carolyn - it's hard to comprehend that a disaster like the Gallipoli battle happened.

  4. Hi there,

    We are currently working on a series of books that aims to publish a photograph of every member of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force that served overseas during WW1, and were hoping you may be able to supply a copy of a photograph of Gerald Owen Sinclair for inclusion.

    You can see more on the project at

    Kind Regards

    Phil Beattie & Matt Pomeroy

    AUCKLAND 0632


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