Returned soldier with family

Returned soldier with family

A New Zealand soldier's story of the battle was painted in 1918 or 1919 by an unknown artist. It depicts a wounded returned soldier taking tea with his family on the verandah of their home.

Although by 1918 the government was prioritising getting men home over giving them public receptions, it could still be some time after his first landfall before a soldier was reunited with his family. In an interview for an oral history project in the 1980s, medical orderly Colin Gordon, who returned on the Ajana in April 1919, outlined his experience:

When we got to Auckland it was late afternoon and we had to anchor in the harbour. Ferry boats came out packed with relatives and friends, and circled round the ship. It was rather annoying to have to sit out there and wait. We pulled into the wharf at eight o’clock next morning. I was one of the last to leave the ship because I had to dispose of the two medical officers in our unit, both of whom had to go to hospital. I caught the seven o’clock train to Wellington, where my sister was waiting, and that night we caught the ferry boat to Lyttelton. And the next day I was home. My family were living in Christchurch then. They welcomed me with a feast… After the first couple of days I was … able to visit friends and relations - and I had a good many in Christchurch – and pick up the family news that’d happened in the four years that I’d been away, and from then on [I] started to think of what I was going to do.

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