Nurse's tale adds to war knowledge

KRIS DANDO
Last updated 14:49 22/04/2014
Nurses war tales

Photo time: Nurse Ina Bennett, standing, third row from top, on left, with other New Zealand nurses on a ship on their way to World War I.

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Allan Dodson is on a mission to preserve history, one story at a time.

Since 2011, the Plimmerton historian has been gathering stories about servicemen and servicewomen from the suburb.

He has material about Plimmerton families, homes and other connections on a database on the plimmerton.org.nz website.

"It's taking time, but it's getting bigger than Texas," he said.

"These people who served their country had strong links to Porirua and Plimmerton and such an impact on this community.

"People are interested and there's a lot more to come.

"I'm learning more and getting snippets to follow up all the time.

"It's a reference for the future."

A story he learnt recently that stuck in his mind was that of Ina Bennett.

Her family had previous connections to Plimmerton, although she was born in Manakau, Otaki.

She was one of the first of 644 New Zealand nurses to answer the call to serve overseas in World War I.

She was initially in Egypt. Her brother was wounded at Gallipoli and they met at Malta.

Nurse Bennett was at Amiens, France, close to the front line, where another of her brothers was killed.

She was admitted to hospital with chronic pneumonia and finished the war nursing on a troopship.

"It's such an interesting story," Dodson said.

"Four members of the Bennett family took part in World War I and there is such a strong link to this area."

The Gallipoli commemorations in 2015 could include an exhibition, either in Plimmerton or Pataka, Dodson said.

Porirua RSA president Roger Kingsford said Anzac Day was the biggest day of the year for his organisation.

He said he expected up to 600 people to attend events on Friday, from the dawn service through to kapa haka, a pipe band and a talk by Naval Lieutenant-Commander Ian Wells.

"Although the RSA is a member-driven organisation, we want to make sure we have our doors open for the public to have a good day, too," Kingsford said.

"There will be a breakfast after the dawn service and a pretty good programme for the day. We have a number of veterans - they keep us in line."

Kingsford said a Porirua RSA steering committee had been established to plan for Gallipoli commemorations next year.

PORIRUA ANZAC SERVICES FRIDAY

Pukerua Bay: Service at community hall at 11am, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at Whenua Tapu cemetery at noon.

Titahi Bay: Dawn service from 6.20am, assembling at the corner of Main Rd and Dimock St.

Civic service from 10.15am at the RSA in Main Rd, for march to cenotaph in Whitehouse Rd.

City centre: Service at peace memorial at Te Rauparaha Park from 9am. In case of bad weather, service will be held under the Canopies.

Pauatahanui: Service at St Alban's Church from 10am, followed by wreath-laying at the war memorial.

Takapuwahia: Service at the marae from 10.30am.

Porirua RSA: Dawn service at the RSA, McKillop St, from 6am.

Whitby: Service at St Mary's Church from 10.30am.

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