Call to honour heroes

16:00, Mar 20 2014
MKC honours
STORIES SOUGHT: The Manurewa World War I steering group wants to find the families behind the names on the town’s cenotaph. Pictured are members, from left: Michael Bailey, Angela Dalton, Graham Dolan, Stella Cattle, Ross Gallagher, Max Ryder and Amar Jakhu. Absent are Bruce Ringer and Anne Candy

John and Winifred Whitburn's two sons died in the same place exactly four months apart.

Lance-Corporal Alexander Whitburn, 25, was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme on May 16, 1916.

His little brother Private Herbert Whitburn, 22, fell on September 16.

The two men were the great-great-uncles of Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton and are commemorated on the cenotaph at the corner of Great South and Hill roads in the town centre.

But little is known about many of the other 24 World War I casualties whose names are listed there.

Now a new committee, the Manurewa WWI Steering Group, is seeking information so the heroes can be honoured.


The group is made up of members of the local board and the Manurewa Returned and Services' Association as well as Auckland Council and Manurewa Youth Council representatives.

They're looking to speak to members of the dead men's families and find out any wartime tales that have been passed down.

"We want to be able to tell stories of the people who stayed here while the war was going on as well as the men who were overseas," Ms Dalton says.

Manurewa RSA president Graham Dolan reckons some of those stories will be fascinating to hear.

"To come from a little place like this and finish off somewhere overseas ... it would have been an adventure," he says.

The group hopes to gather the information within the next 13 months so the families can be included in the celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, on April 25, 2015.

They're also looking for the stories of those on rolls of honour at Manurewa Central School, Alfriston School, St David's Anglican Church, Christ Church Anglican Church and the Alfriston Community Hall.

Call Stella Cattle on 266 9644 or email if you have any information.

Manukau Courier