Posts Tagged ‘letters’


Here’s a letter written by Edie HEATH to her nephew George WILSON (George is my great uncle).  I’ve transcribed the letter for easier reading.


Dear George

Received your letter this morning and it’s jolly well time you did write you young pup. (Aren’t I polite?) You want to know when the devil I’m going up to see you, well I’m blowed if I know & that’s the honest truth. You know old maid dairymaids don’t get much time for holiday making in these hard times. I love to go up there again and get down by that river. It’s just scrumptious down there.

Fancy Larry going to the war! Ronald Ewing too! Gee whiz Whangarata must be an old maid’s paradise now. Bad as Northcote.  I was very near going over to see the boys off on Tuesday too only Mother wanted me to wait & go with her today. I wish I had gone now for a bit of devilment. I’d have nosed out the Hon. H & L and had some sport. The false fickle scum! An old maids cuss upon him! May he have (when he’s married) no children & when they’re vaccinated may it never take! etc. etc.

Talk about blow! by jingo George you should have been down here when that cyclone was on. It blew the verandah off our house. Just about 8 o’clock Wed. morning. I was just coming in the gate and got a good view of the middle piece flying clean over the top of  the house and break a branch off the willow tree at the back. We’ve just got a new verandah up now. I’m glad it’s finished now too. A lot of damage was done down here. The new footpath down by the wharf fell into the sea. And a house down by the wharf way was wrecked a bit by a tree falling through the side of it. And a new big house in Princes St well just about finished will have to be shifted as the earth has slipped away & only left 3 ft by the back door. That’s only some of the damage. But I’ll have to ring off now with the same excuse as you for writing on both sides of the paper. So hurry up & answer this.

Love from Edie

P.S. I hope Jean has got her letters by this. I wanted her to get them today.

P.S. Excuse writing as I’m that tired I can hardly keep my eyes open. I guess I need 2 matches to prop the eyelids up eh what?

A cyclone in Northcote? I went on to the Papers Past website to see if I could find a report of a cyclone in New Zealand some time during the First World War. Edie’s letter had the date 8 March but no year. These two articles from Wednesday, 21 February 1917 describe the cyclone Edie wrote about.

The Evening Post - Wednesday 21 February 1917

The Ohinemuri Gazette Wednesday 21 February 1917

Gosh, Edie was rather unkind towards Ronald EWING wasn’t she? Ronald was born at Whangarata on 31 March 1896, the son of Mary Eliza (nee YOUNG) and George Proudfoot EWING who had married in 1894. Ronald enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and his Embarkation Date was 14 July 1917 with the 28th Reinforcements E Company. He died in 1984.

I think the “Larry” Edie mentioned could be Larry LAWRENCE. Edie’s brother, Tom HEATH, mentions him in this letter to George. I’m not sure if Larry is his real name or a nickname. I can’t seem to find any record of him enlisting.


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Censored letters

Here’s a letter written by Tom HEATH to his brother Jack and sister-in-law Emily WILSON. Tom was somewhere in France when he wrote the letter on December 12 1917.

I’ve transcribed the letter for easier reading. The first page was torn so I am presuming it was ripped out by the person censoring the letter.


Dear Jack & Emily

Just a few lines I am still alive & well. I am attached to the Engineers for a while & working behind the line making roads for shifting the big guns…

(2) luck will stick to me. There is plenty of mud here & my God it is cold I can’t wear too many clothes here. I am parted from all my mates that I came over with most of them have already been in the line and two or three of them have been killed. I met Bob Pitman here he is well so far he is with the Wellington boys. When you write this address will find me quicker number & name First A.T.B. N.Z.E. Forces France. I received a letter from George while I was in Sling but I forget whether I answered it or not it is such a long time I don’t seem to have time to do any writing.

(3) Every day is alike here no Sunday here, in fact I never know when it is Sunday. Old Fritz has still got some guns left he sends over a lot of stuff some days but for every one he sends it seems to me that we send him three back for it. These big shells of his got the wind up me for a start but I am used to them now & don’t take much notice unless they are landing fairly close & then I shift myself. They make some mighty holes in the ground where they explode you could put your house in some of them easily & would not see it. I have not had a letter from Jean yet.

(4) I sent her a card the other day I hope she got it alright. I don’t care for France nor the French people. I have not seen a place that I like better than N.Z. I would not mind if I was there now it would do me. I’ll close now hoping you are all well at home remember me to old Mick

Your brother Tom

Just a few for Jean xxxxxxxxxx

Here’s a photo of Tom with five others. Tom is on the far right as you look at the photo.

And here’s his birth recorded in the Heath family Bible.

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The following letter was written by Edie HEATH to her nephew George WILSON on December 10 1918. George is my great uncle, brother to my nana, Jean Charlotte (nee WILSON) WATSON. Edie was the sister of George’s father, John (aka Jack) WILSON. The letter is six pages long, but worth reading. Edie was a great letter writer. I love her description of her Dad. I have transcribed it for those who find reading handwriting difficult.


Dear George
Your welcome letter received alright and glad to know your father is better again and that the rest of you have escaped the ‘flu’. It quite put mother at her ease to know that Jack was alright again. Mum is quite alright again herself now.

We had letters from Tom last week a great batch of them. You had some too didn’t you because Tom said he had sent Jean another card when he sent one to us, and in another letter he said he had just written to you. And oh you dilapidated scalliwag what do you mean by writing to my big brother and telling him I helped you to pinch Lady Kit’s roses! The cheek of the working class. I thought you knew I wouldn’t do such a thing and now there’s Tom writes and tells me he is surprised at me doing such a thing! Just think of it! Me – me! with a capital M. Well he might be surprised but sure faith indade(?) and indade(?) no doubt but I think he isn’t, else I don’t take after him. For he is the very divil at the pinching business he is so he is. Poor old Lady Kit! When is she going to have another honeymoon. Tell you what there is one thing of hers I would like to get and that is that antedeluvian(???) hat of hers with the bobbing moon daisies in it. I often think of that hat. You can bet your last dollar that was one of the first hats that Eve’s milliner fashioned, or perhaps Noah’s wife used it for the pretty birdies to build their nests in while they sojourned in the Ark. It looks a bit like an oriental garden. The daisies would attract the larks any way, what say you? Oh I forgot to tell you those rose slips that I got are growing. So that’s something to remember Whangarata by. You say, isn’t it decent being peace. Well I should just say it is. I’m just about tired of slaughter. Won’t there be rejoicings when all the boys come home, especially the first boatloads, but I suppose it will all mean business for the hotel. I don’t think I told you about Dad did I when the hotels opened again, after being closed on account of this ‘flu’. Well everyone was drunk that day, and of course Dad was no exception. The funny part of it was we never knew they were opened again, we thought they didn’t open till the Monday, and about half past three Ida said ‘wherever has Dad got to, the hotels aren’t open are they?’ and of course quite confident we said ‘no not till Monday’. A few minutes after that, she looked out the window, and said ‘well if hotels aren’t then what’s the matter with Dad, he must be ill’. But of course it was only his old complaint  come back on him again – namely – beeritis. Well it was disgusting but I had to laugh. If you could only have seen him! He had fallen over and scratched the side of his face, and although it was only a scratch, it was bleeding like anything. Well I’ll try and describe him to you if I can, but I’m afraid I couldn’t do him justice. Well he had his hat on the back of his head, a face as puffed and red as a lobster, and covered with sweat and blood, his coat all dust and cow-dirt, and his knees playing home sweet home of their own accord. He couldn’t walk he was running, first from one side and then to the other and through it all he still hung on to his parcel – a couple of pounds of sausages, some of which by the way were hanging out of the paper, it only wanted a little dog to run snapping at the back to complete the picture. It was the sausages beat me, I couldn’t get over them. They are things he so seldom brings home, and he must have them that day. Any other day it would have been steak or something. I don’t know what he got them at all for, there was plenty of meat in the house, and I’m the only one that likes them anyway. Oh George, what do you think, we all eat meat on Friday now. What do you think of that! Fact, I started it. I don’t know they tell me I’m a heathen now at least Ida does, but I tell her it’s better than a hypocrite. She says she is a Catholic and won’t live to her beliefs. I did while I was one anyway. But I believe poor old Darwin was right after all. Natural selection and survival of the fittest. Anyway I’m done with the Bible. I read and studied it for myself, and I wouldn’t like to write what I think of the old testament. I’ll tel you if you like. Anyway, kill the fatted calf next Friday I’m up there. What what? Well to drop it. Are you coming down for Xmas? Try. I suppose Jeanie will be down for a while before school again. I saw a little girl so much like her in town yesterday I thought it was her at first, but it wasn’t. Well, I must dry up now, I absolutely can’t write anymore. I’m going to bed so good night hoping to see you at Xmas, Best love from

Your affect(?) Aunt


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