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18th August 2014

We first learned about William Edmund Hartland in 1993 when his nephew. John Brinkler, inherited  old  photographs, newspaper clippings, letters and assorted family records.

Photographed in military uniform, the handsome Edmund caught our attention at once. We discovered amongst various military paraphernalia, a signed memo of gratitude from Buckingham Palace, a Certificate awarded for Service in the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces and medals; official records of a life cut short on 25th April 1915, but it was his own words which touched us.

Postcards home with hasty scrawled messages from Hobart, Colombo, Alexandria and Cairo chart his journey to war.  Always to his mother  or siblings, from Zeitoun Camp in Egyp, where the Auckland Infantry Battalion was stationed, his letters were initially excited about the new and strange land around him. As  time  passed, he wrote about boredom, frustration, worry about the sickness of his mates, and much conjecture as to when they would 'fight the Turks'.

The last and most poignant letter, written to his mother, is dated 20th March 1915.

He writes - “All rumours and tales promising that we were to leave Egypt have so far proved untrue. We are still hopeful of a shift to a better climate. It is very little use to try and make a guess as to where we will end up.”

He signs as usual, “your loving son, W.E. Hartland”

Every mature New Zealander knows where they were sent. Through contact with the  Auckland War Memorial we learned that Edmund Hartland 
has no known grave. His name  is one of the many on the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli, and we resolved to visit  there one day.  

So in October 2007 we finally arrived in Turkey.

Day one of a Turkish tour we set out with an assortment of nationalities for the Gallipoli Peninsula.    A long drive, a  roll call of  names on board the bus, and surprise......amongst fellow travellers....John and Cath Robinson of Pukekohe, New Zealand, a family linked by marriage to Hartlands!  Edmund Hartland had grown up in Pukekohe.

So John Brinkler and John Robinson met for the first time on a bus to Gallipoli and after a hasty geneology check, agreed they had a mutual grandfather some  generations back. That they had a relative  killed on Gallipoli was news to the Robinsons. Their visit just became more meaningful.

At Anzac Cove, the beautiful day and peaceful aspect made it hard to imagine the carnage there years ago. The only tourists present, our party wandered freely amongst the many white crosses. quietly reading the names of those buried in the lovingly  tended cemetery by the sea.

Then it was into the bus and up the  hill on the narrow road to Chunik Bair.  More white crosses, and standing proud, the Lone Pine Memorial, just as we had pictured it.

Reading Ed's name in the stone, we felt a strangeness after so many years of anticipation. We felt we knew this man and wondered if we were the first from his family to come there. We believe that we were. Photographs were taken to record a visit of not one, but two, kinsmen.

We left that quiet solemn place to walk further along, joining a group of  Turkish school children as they visited the monument honouring Kemal Ataturk and the Turkish dead.

We kept our thoughts to ourselves, pondering on that curious coincidence that brought our families together that day to  that lonely monument on those bush-clad hills of  Turkey.


With special thanks to E. Brinkler for submitting this BlogWould you like to submit a blog to YellAli? Send us your blog to and we will review and publish your work.

Comments (1)


19th August 2014 This is a really touching article , having been to Gallopoli, I was very much touched by the words of Ataturk (see below) . what a great man and gentlemen. He got it just right.

“Those heroes that shed their blood, And lost their lives., You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.,
Therefore, rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours,You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears, Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace.. After having lost their lives on this land they have. Become our sons as well”.

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