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Echoes of World War I resonate at Ewelme

Echoes of World War I resonate at Ewelme

A century down the track, the First World War still casts a long shadow over many New Zealand families – including the family associated with Ewelme Cottage in Parnell.

The Heritage New Zealand property will host a mini-exhibition entitled Grandsons at War, featuring items associated with the Lush family and their involvement in fighting overseas during the war that was meant to end all wars.

“Three of the grandsons of Rev Vicesimus Lush – the man who built Ewelme in 1863-64 – fought overseas, though only one returned home,” says Cheryl Laurie, the Manager of Ewelme Cottage.

“The First World War hit the Lush family hard like many other families in the country.”

Brothers Walter and Oliver Ruddock enlisted shortly after war broke out according to service records, though both died overseas. Walter was killed on the Western Front in 1917 after surviving action in Gallipoli, Turkey and Palestine; and Oliver from appendicitis in Egypt in 1915.

Only Arthur Lush made it back alive.

“The items on display are particularly poignant as they relate to the three soldiers,” says Cheryl.

“Although not especially rare or unusual in themselves, in many ways it’s their ‘ordinariness’ that makes them so powerful.”

Items in the exhibition include a puttee – a bandage-like strip of material that was wrapped around a soldier’s leg as part of standard British military uniform, beginning at the top of the boot and winding up to the knee. Although time-consuming to put on, puttees had the advantage of providing support for the lower leg and helping to prevent boots from being displaced in the mud.

“More touching, perhaps, is a standard issue canvas bag in which selected personal items were placed after the death of servicemen and returned to their next of kin in New Zealand,” says Cheryl.

Grandsons at War also includes souvenir Egyptian wall hangings – typical of the sorts of items servicemen sent home to family from Egypt prior to the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in which many New Zealand soldiers lost their lives – and many other items that tell the story of a family at war.”

Grandsons at War will take place at Ewelme Cottage from April 5 to June 28 on Sundays only. Admission - $8.50 per adult; children and Heritage New Zealand members free.

Caption: A photo of Walter Ruddock who was killed on the Western Front in 1917, and a canvas bag that no family ever wanted to receive – the means by which a fallen soldier’s personal effects were returned to his family.


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