new background

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Captain Parry's beef to be Captain Ross's find

Over a year ago, I happened to open a storage box to look for items for an exhibition that was being planned.  My curiosity was piqued by words on a blue envelope, typewritten on the outside ...

“Beef found on rocks near the North Pole in 1823 by Captain Parry of the “Fury” and brought back to Hull, Yorkshire by Captain Ross 1833.”
I peeked inside and marveled over the folded piece of paper and dusty evidence of the organic substance it held in its folded creases.   I carefully returned it to the box but had to gush to my work colleagues about my ‘find’ then stored the information in the back of my mind for a possible spot as a blog post.  
A few months later, our new exhibition “Still Life: Inside the huts of Scott and Shackleton” opened and bought back to mind the wonderful little treasure stowed away in our largest storeroom.  Probably not seen by many other eyes in many decades, this fabulous artifact has its own adventurous story to tell.   “Wonderful” I thought, “I really should do something for a blog post” and so, it was on my radar again.   Even though the beef and the explorers were several decades older than anything connected to Scott and Shackleton, the similar strands of courage and tenacity of those first explorers and the pull that the Antarctic had for ordinary men to discover and plot such deadly territory are the same for all the stories.
Then I spotted this headline whilst researching:

A shipwreck had been discovered in Canada’s Arctic using a remote underwater vehicle.  This shipwreck is being attributed to a disastrous expedition in 1845 led by Sir John Franklin, a British Royal Navy officer and explorer of the Arctic.  At the time of originally penning this blogpost, it is not known whether it is the HMS Erebus or HMS Terror that was involved, both ships went on the expedition, however late last year it was confirmed that it was Erebus.



Now back to the beef that entered our museum in 1959, this wonderful piece of animal that Captain Ross decided would be a good idea to scavenge and cart around on journeys with him and thank goodness he did! It along with the paper is of course terribly fragile, I could not open to show the contents, however a small amount of debris can be seen in the photos above, also since I've written this, our conservation department have stabilised the objects and they can now be seen online.  Of its journey, the following news clipping may shed some light:

The dessicated paper containing the beef states in cursive script that the meat was left upon the rocks near to the North Pole by Captain Parry[2] of the "Fury" in 1823 and it was taken back to Hull, Yorkshire by Captain Ross in 1833.  It is interesting to note that 
Ross took part in four Arctic expeditions under Sir William Parry, and in 1829 to 1833, again served under his Uncle Sir John Ross's second Arctic voyage. It was during this trip that they located the position of the North Magnetic Pole on 1 June 1831 on the Boothia Peninsula in the far north of Canada.[a] 
As the beef was then “taken on 2 or 3 Voyages of discovery" we could therefore presume one of them was this momentous trip.

Later, “between 1839 and 1843, Ross commanded an Antarctic expedition comprising the vessels HMS Erebus and HMS Terror and charted much of the coastline of the continent.”  It was only a year after this, 1845 that the Franklin expedition took HMS Erebus and HMS Terror on that fateful venture.  Captain James Ross was to later lead searches[a] to look for Sir John Franklin and that doomed expedition. 

Captain Sir James Clarke ROSS[a]

“James was married to Lady Ann Ross. He died at Aylesbury in 1862, five years after his wife. A blue plaque marks Ross's home in Eliot Place, Blackheath, London. His closest friend was Captain Francis Crozier with whom he sailed many times. Crozier has never been found after he participated in The Franklin Expedition and became leader after the death of Sir John Franklin.
James  lived in the ancient country house  later known as The Abbey, Aston Abbotts in Buckinghamshire and this is where he died. He is buried with his wife in the local churchyard.

 In the gardens of the Abbey there is a lake with two islands, named after the ships Terror and Erebus.”[a]

Captain Sir William Parry

As an aside, Parry was a trailblazer in the use of canning techniques for food preservation on his Arctic voyages. “However, his techniques were not infallible: in 1939 viable spores of certain heat-resistant bacteria were found in canned roast veal that had traveled with Parry to the Arctic Circle in 1824.”[c] 

I wonder what our little sample of beef would reveal and how did it get to New Zealand from Hull?

Franklin's lost expedition was a British voyage of Arctic exploration led by Captain Sir John Franklin that departed England in 1845. A Royal Navy officer and experienced explorer, Franklin had served on three previous Arctic expeditions, the latter two as commanding officer. His fourth and last, undertaken when he was 59, was meant to traverse the last unnavigated section of the Northwest Passage. After a few early fatalities, the two ships became icebound in Victoria Strait near King William Island in the Canadian Arctic. The entire expedition complement, including Franklin and 128 men, was lost.

The Parry Channel, a natural waterway through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is named after Captain William Parry (Born 19 December 1790 – Died 8 or 9 July 1855)

The Ross Sea was discovered by Captain James Clark Ross (Born 15 April 1800 – Died 3 April 1862) in 1841. 
He also discovered the largest ice shelf of Antarctica which now bears his name – The Ross Ice Shelf. 
A 2013 estimate of size is 427,000 sq km making it roughly the size of the Yukon territory in Canada.
Ross also named  Mount Erebus and the smaller extinct volcano to the east, Mount Terror.

On long side facing the church: "In affectionate memory of Rear Admiral Sir James Clark Ross Kt. FRS Arctic and Antarctic Explorer and Discoverer of the North Magnetic Pole who departed this life at Aston Abbots House April 3, 1862 Age 62 years. Deeply lamented and regretted." At the base: "I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand at this latter day upon the Earth." 

On the end facing the road: "Sir James Clark Ross Kt. Born April 15, 1800 Died April 3, 1862" 

On long side away from the church: "In affectionate remembrance of Ann, the beloved and deeply lamented wife of Admiral Sir James Clark Ross Knt., the eldest daughter of the late Thomas Coulman, Esq., Whitgift Hall, Coole. Lady Ross was born on the 17th of January 1817 Died on the 25th of January 1857. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord." 

On the end facing away from the road: "Lady Ross born January 17, 1817 died January 25, 1857" 

Evening Post, Volume CXXIV, Issue 47, 24 August 1937, Page 14 accessed via Paperspast

©2015 Sarndra Lees

Saturday, 6 September 2014

A humbling month

How do we mark the successes in our life?  Some do by money, some do by cars and others by houses.

Those who know me, know my love of cemetery photography and discovering long forgotten stories.  These long dead people don't have to be considered famous, I find many interesting stories from 'ordinary' people.  

This month I have marked TWO further successes in my life just by feeling a great inner contentedness and that is rich enough for me! Two more that make all my thousands of hours of photography and research worth it because life stories of those who deserve to be remembered have or will eventually be  correctly acknowledged and brought back in to living memory.

These are 2 wonderful success stories to add to my list along with Private William PERREAU's story.

Sapper Robert HISLOP

I have completed a webpage on how I played a large part in the past month by rediscovering New Zealand's first young soldier who died in WW1.  Robert was originally from Canterbury. An unfortunate accident whilst guarding the Parnell Bridge in Auckland claimed his life.  He has now been officially added to the Memorial Rolls this year.

Read about his tragic story and being found again HERE

This has been an amazing experience and it was a special moment and privilege to attend his full military funeral service at Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland on the 19th August 2014 - exactly 100 years to the day he died. 

Catafalque guard composed of soldiers of the 
New Zealand Army Reserve based in Auckland.

Territorials - a nice touch, done specifically as Robert was part of the Territorial Force - 19 August 2014

Robert's grave as I found it on Anzac Day 2014

Robert's grave 19 August 2014
Renovated just in time for his
service on 19 August 2014.


I had a bouquet of flowers specially made for the occasion.
Here, I am placing them on the grave.

See the full set of photos on Flickr HERE

After the bi-annual clean - 12/10/14

"After a short time the young life flickered and faded -Adam George Begg had made the supreme sacrifice in the cause of law and order."

My partner and I stumbled upon Adam's grave back in 2008.  It was covered in lichen and looking very unloved, but we were quite drawn to it.  So over the next few weeks we carefully tended to it to remove the lichen and I commenced to unravel his story.

Adam was killed in the Parnell train tunnel, Auckland on 23 February 1926 in the "execution of his duty aged 27 years".  

I have championed for 5 years to get his name added to official Police memorial rolls without luck, but with my success in relation to Robert Hislop, I was spurred on and in a last ditch attempt on 19th August 2014 wrote to Peter Hayes, the Manager of Welfare Services for the NZ Police Association after being forwarded the Letters page of their magazine, issue Jan/Feb 2014 by a contact.  In this, it was noted that the situation relating to officers killed on duty and like Adam's not slain by a criminal but still dying whilst on duty was being investigated.  This involves at least 712 police members. It appears there may be positive outcomes in relation to at least 50 of these individuals, I was ecstatic to read this! 

I received a reply from Peter on the 28th August.  Adam is included as 1 of the 50.  I was ecstatic to read this!

Adam's story is HERE

Sapper Hislop's photograph courtesy of Sapper Hislop's Great Niece Sue Atkins

©2014 Sarndra Lees

Sunday, 13 July 2014

I wish I knew how to read German! Can you help me?

Is anyone able to translate from German [WW1 records]  into English for me, the details of Phillip STOEBENER?  I do not need the details of the others on the page.

Many thanks!





©2014 Sarndra Lees

Sunday, 9 March 2014

A spot of fishing and a cuppa... early 1900's style

Meet my latest acquisition...I saw it and had to have it...yes the bidding was tense but I snaffled it for $4.  It's turned into an interesting exercise just researching the name of the person it was sent to let alone for the wonderful few seconds frozen in time it represents.

Link to larger view on flickr
The handwriting at the bottom edge states
"Can you recognise anyone in this group"
I just adore the posing in this. The man far right with waders and fishing rod; the girl centre front with her kettle and the boy sitting, far right, with the fry pan in front of him.  The ladies look dressed up quite finely [note the hat hanging from the top of the tent] and so do the man and boy in the back row.  Even the younger children look dressed in what was probably their best clothes. 
The Maori boy standing centre left with the camp stool in front of him looks almost dressed for cricket.

Another two lads wear their finery. The fellow on the left - a tie pin and the fellow on the right his fob chain.

 One little girl appears to have shoes with hobnails on the soles.

And who is the tent manufacturer?
The ubiquitous tea chest of the time, partially hidden behind the legs of the young Maori lad.  This one appears to have the letters QBEC in a diamond and extoling the fact the tea was purest choice from Ceylon. However I could be wrong.
 It would be really lovely to know who the people were and where this was taken.

The card is addressed to:
Mr H Harre,
School Teacher,
and the communication beside address:
"Recd [received] postcards
to-night am
sending "decent"
ones in a day or
in [illegible]

reverse of post card

This dates the postcard to probably post 1910 as Horace passed the various teachers examinations held in January 1910 in the Wanganui Education District and was listed as Taihape. [1]  He was born 2 December 1890[3]
 In June 1911, he was appointed as teacher at Waiata. [10]
Horace Romano HARRE, schoolteacher enlisted in WW1 and embarked on board the Maunganui on 9 May 1918. Next of kin noted as his father John HARRE, head teacher, Raurimu.[2]
In September of 1917, H R Harre, acting head teacher, Glen Oroua -  tendered his resignation.  [7]
The Auckland Star issue dated 12 September 1925 announced that on August 18 H R HARRE of Apiti had wed at St Andrew's Church, Epsom to Miss Susy JACK of Mount Eden and that their present address was at Apiti.[13]
Horace Romano HARRE, retired school teacher of Mairangi Bay died 1972. [4]

Horace had a brother Garnett Colquhoun HARRE who was also a school teacher.[5] Garnett taught at Pohonui until 1914 and thence on to Carnarvon[6] as sole teacher. [8]  He was thought of highly. [9] Another brother, William Knight HARRE [11] saw action in WW1 and was wounded early on in the war.  He returned home on board the Maheno, arriving in Auckland about 30 December 1915.[12]
Horace, Garnett aka Garnet and William's parents were John and Frances Emily [nee BAKER] HARRE.  They married c1884 [14] and also had other issue - Hannah Lily  HARRE b c 1887;  Frances Annie HARRE b c1893.  Frances died c 1895 aged 30. [15] There is a John HARRE who died aged 82 c1938 which would fit the age of her husband.[16]
A nice tie in is Horace and Susy's son  also named Horace Romano Harré [shown below in 2011], born 18 December 1927 in Apiti, known widely as Rom Harré, a distinguished British philosopher and psychologist.  His Facebook entry states He is currently Director of the LSE's Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science.  Rom kindly replied to my email confirming it must have been his father.





NZ Dept Internal Affairs historic BDM indexes: death entry 1972/34858
NZ Department of Internal Affairs historical BDM indexes: marriage entry 1884/997
NZ Department of Internal Affairs historical BDM indexes: death entry 1895/1465
NZ Department of Internal Affairs historical BDM indexes: death entry 1938/25336


©2014 Sarndra Lees

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Auckland War Memorial Museum remembers Christchurch - 3rd Anniversary of the devastating quake of 22 February 2011

Indelibly etched into my psyche for the rest of my life, it is nice to see this catastrophic event remembered in Auckland.  The effects of this earthquake and subsequent ones are far reaching - a few of us that work here have family and friends that have suffered and still are suffering on an emotional level.
This commemoration is a more low key one than the first commemoration at the museum and rightfully so, we are moving on and the sharp edges of loss, despair and emotional upheaval are blurring a bit...I said ... a bit.  We still have to remember that we've lost childhood roots and homes, our families and acquaintances have had their social structures torn out from under them, the rebuild is slow and frustrations still torment. It is important to remember to support those still going through turmoil.
Just my 'bands 4 hope' and I
Nearly to the hour

all in a row
North entrance
North entrance

South entrance


Christchurch earthquake remembered Part 2
-There was much footage in this that I hadn't seen before

©2014 Sarndra Lees

Saturday, 1 February 2014

I wish I knew the wee boys name....

I saw this photograph for sale by a New Zealand vendor and had to purchase it.  Such a lovely thing and such a shame there is no photographer identification.

I'm theorising that this dapper wee [probably blonde haired and blue eyed] fellow's dad died in World War 1 albeit he looks rather a happy wee chap with his little thumbs tucked into his pockets.  It seems his mother, has made him into his fathers 'mini-me', wearing almost a miniature uniform with a 'kerchief tucked into his breast pocket.
A flower that looks suspiciously like the Oxeye daisy is placed in the left lapel - maybe a favourite of the man whose memory inspired the photo originally?  Or maybe to form a connection between the wee boy and the lost sailor - being that daisies represent innocence, gentleness and purity.
An animal skin appears to be hiding a chair or similar that the boy is standing on and the backdrop gives the feeling of being outdoors.

On close inspection of his hat I can barely make out the battle cruiser's name on the brim.
"HMS ROYALIST" and there appears above the wording an embroidered anchor with Laurel and a badge with the image of a moustached man...maybe the boys father.
Forward 6-inch gun and bridge on Royalist
HMS Royalist  of the Royal Navy fought in the Battle of Jutland on the 31 May to 1 June 1916.  She survived the battle and in February 1917 was reassigned to the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet. She survived to the end of the First World War.
Maybe the lad's daddy didn't survive, or maybe the photo is earlier and the boy is in fancy dress to represent an earlier HMS Royalist in the 1880's-90's to the Pacific and connections with war in Samoa.  Whatever the story, it's a reminder to put notes with your precious family photographs.  Never assume that your stories will stay within living memory or that other people won't find them interesting in 100 years.

©2014 Sarndra Lees

Friday, 31 January 2014

Chief Post Office, 31 Cathedral Square, Christchurch c1906-1910

Another recent purchase is this postcard of the 'Chief' Post Office in Christchurch - a wonderful snap of bygone Edwardian days. The first telephone exchange in New Zealand was launched from here.[1] 

My hometown prided itself on and identified with the Victorian and Edwardian architecture pre quakes.  The architectural magnificence in and around the city centre changed  forever dramatically due to destructon and/or demolition of damaged buildings after the devastating earthquakes starting late 2010.  The building now has an uncertain future since these events.  From 2000, it had housed the Christchurch tourist information centre, along with a café and office space.

The postcard depicts a pretty scene, with a hubbub of people going about their everyday life, toting parasols and driving hansom cabs.   Some skirts are skimming just above the ankles so dated to just after the turn of the 20th century with the clock face showing 11.35, nearing lunch time.
In the background can be seen a sign indicating where 'Gilby's' was situated - in the Royal Exchange Buildings.  Gilby's College Ltd was a Shorthand/Typing training institution [they also had a branch in Wellington]. One celebrated attendee was Ettie Rout, journalist, writer, businesswoman, but best known as a staunch worker in the field of sex hygiene during WW1 - who by 1902 was "one of the first Government-appointed shorthand writers working in the Supreme Court and on commissions of enquiry."[2]
Click on picture for a larger view of this 1919 advertisement
To the far right of the card, the original premises of McKenzie and Willis can be seen.  This business was founded in 1906 and is still active.  They were situated in the Royal Exchange Buildings until 1928 when the buildings were purchased by Christchurch Cinemas for reconstruction as the Regent Theatre.[3]  It was the "first major Edwardian building erected in the square. It was the last of six cinemas to be developed around Cathedral Square, and at the time it opened it was considered to be the grandest theatre in the city."[4]
The rear of the postcard

Jane Tolerton. 'Rout, Ettie Annie', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 28-Jan-2014


©2014 Sarndra Lees