Melville Mirfin commemorated by NZ Post

Last updated 05:00 09/08/2014
Melville Mirfin
FAIRFAX NZ
HONOURED: Melville Mirfin has been chosen as the face of NZ Post’s official stamp and coin programme to mark 100 years since New Zealand entered the war.

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One of New Zealand's longest-serving soldiers never spoke about the Great War, but his letters tell the story for him.

Melville Mirfin, raised in Ikamatua on the West Coast and schooled at Nelson College, has been chosen as the face of New Zealand Post's official stamp and coin programme to mark 100 years since New Zealand entered the war.

More than 120,000 Kiwis served in World War I, out of a population of one million people.

About 18,000 soldiers - that's one in seven - did not return, and they included 234 former staff of the New Zealand Post and Telegraph Department.

NZ Post's ''1914 - for King and Empire'' is the first of five stamp and coin issues to be released in each of the five years until 2018.

All will honour the likes of Mirfin, who left their families to answer the call to defend their country.

His grandson, Commodore Ross Smith, speaking after a ceremony of remembrance at Queens Wharf this week, said that, despite spending almost five years overseas, Mirfin never talked about his wartime experiences.

He said his grandfather would probably have regarded last night's ceremony as ''a great big fuss about not much''.

Three of Mirfin's seven brothers fought in the war.

Like him, Stanley, Ashton, and George all returned safely.

The brothers' stories were pieced together from memorabilia, including postcards and letters, found in a family suitcase.

 Ashton's son Stuart Mirfin said his was one of thousands of families with similar wartime stories, ''never featured in history books''. 

''Not once did Dad or any of his brothers convey the sacrifice of New Zealanders was in vain.''

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- The Marlborough Express

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