Bit of barbed wire makes Gallipoli link

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 09:01 04/08/2014
Dave Weir

WAR FAMILY: A 1911 photo of William and Harriet Twidle’s family at Havelock.

Dave Weir
SPECIAL ARTEFACT: The piece of barbed wire the Marlborough Museum has acquired. It was taken from Gallipoli by a Rai Valley family.

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Marlborough Museum has bought a piece of barbed wire, taken from Gallipoli by a Rai Valley family.

The small loop of barbed wire was bought on Trade Me by museum director Steve Austin, and is understood to have been recovered from Gallipoli by "Private Twidle", from the Rai, in 1950.

Private Twidle is thought to be Lea Onslow Twidle, son of William and Harriet Twidle from Woodlea farm in Havelock and one of five brothers who went to World War I.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the entry of New Zealand and Britain into the Great War, which became known as World War I.

The family's five sons who went to the war were:

Cecil Frank (Mac) Twidle, killed in action at Gallipoli 19 June 1915. "Mack [sic] was most easily the most popular man in the section," according to Edward George Pope in a letter published in Marlborough Express, August 14, 1915. James Victor Twidle, who died in France of wounds received in Belgium in August 1917. Roy Oscar (Mason) Twidle, survived the war. Lea Onslow Twidle, born 1898, tried to enlist in 1916, but was found to be underage. He finally embarked on October 2, 1918, and survived the war. William George Thornhill Twidle, a Havelock hairdresser, was called up as a first reserve and survived the war.

Austin said the museum bought the wire because it was affordable and had a lot of value in conveying an aspect of the WWI story.

Taking items from battlefields in Europe was now prohibited. The fact that so many Twidle men fought was interesting to the museum, he said.

"The man who brought this back from Gallipoli lost his brother there, so the fact he went there, decades later, gives an insight into its personal significance as well. Many of the men that were lost have no personal grave, so items like this take on a special significance."

Each year the museum made purchases to develop the collections. That meant hundreds of hours monitoring many sources of potential items. Austin said.

The museum was grateful for "many outstanding donations" each year, but it still needed to purchase items such as this when they became available.

He would not say how much the barbed wire cost, but said online auctions were becoming a way that artefacts found the buyer who really wanted them.

"We are concerned about major Marlborough artefacts being sold to buyers outside of Marlborough, for tens of thousands of dollars, because our funding doesn't allow us to purchase them, and keep them in Marlborough.

"I do what I can to ensure they are properly documented, and remain in public ownership."

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- The Marlborough Express

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