Anzac's family history and a 102-year-old handkerchief

Robyn Edie/Fairfax NZ

Dee Uren-Perry, left, with her son Stephen Potter, after receiving a replica copy of the handkerchief belonging to their ancestor George Uren, who died in WWI, on a recent trip to Gallipoli.

A single 102-year-old handkerchief has united the families of three soldiers who fought in World War I.

Dee Uren-Perry, of Invercargill, said a year ago she was none-the-wiser about the significance of her great-great uncle's legacy

She and her brother Warren Perry, of Dunedin, started researching their family history several years ago and discovered a relative George Thomas Uren who was killed in World War I on May 2, 1915.

Dee Uren-Perry, left, with her son Stephen Potter, of Invercargill, after receiving a replica copy of the handkerchief ...

Dee Uren-Perry, left, with her son Stephen Potter, of Invercargill, after receiving a replica copy of the handkerchief belonging to their ancestor George Thomas Uren, who died in WWI.

But it was with help from Turkish historian Omer Arslan, the pair learned about their family's unique war story.


After Uren's death, a handkerchief, embroidered by his mother Elizabeth was found by a Turkish soldier Murat Ali, who used it to try and stop the bleeding of another wounded soldier Yusef Oz.

Stephen Potter, of Invercargill, says just like the real one, their replica copy of the handkerchief belonging to their ...

Stephen Potter, of Invercargill, says just like the real one, their replica copy of the handkerchief belonging to their ancestor George Uren, who died in WWI, has accurate blood stains of Turkish soldier Yusef Oz who died at war.

Yusef Oz asked Murat Ali to pass the handkerchief on to his widow before he died, Uren-Perry said.

The now 102-year-old handkerchief had been passed down generations and is currently in the hands of Yusef Oz's grandson Nazmi Oz.

This year, on a trip to Gallipoli for Anzac day, the Invercargill family met for the first time with the family of Yusef Oz, and Murat Ali's grandson Ismail Haaki Efe.

George Thomas Uren.

George Thomas Uren.

Uren-Perry's son, Stephen Potter, 15, who is George Uren's great great great nephew, said after visiting the two Turkish families he felt they had a special connection.

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The families had a "massive feast" together and were presented with a replica of the 102-year-old handkerchief, he said.

Uren-Perry said she was happy for the Oz family to keep the original.

Stephen Potter, of Invercargill, holding the replica copy of the handkerchief belonging to their ancestor George Thomas ...

Stephen Potter, of Invercargill, holding the replica copy of the handkerchief belonging to their ancestor George Thomas Uren, who died in WWI. The embroidery reads "To George from mother for your 28th birthday".

"It's their ancestor's blood on it, it's more important to them," she said.

Uren-Perry said she felt "a real connection to the land" and after touching down at Gallipoli she wanted to put her hands in the dirt.

Seeing the fields in person was unlike anything she could ever read about or see in photographs, she said.

The family had always gone to services in Invercargill or Dunedin, but the service in Gallipoli was different, Uren-Perry said.

It was an "incredibly emotional" day which she spent most of the time crying, she said.

"It was a bizarre feeling."

As for George Uren, the family found his name on a memorial at Clyde but didn't think it was their relation because of incorrect spelling. Stephen since worked with the Central Otago District Council to get the C Uren changed to G Uren.

However, the family is very keen to trace George Uren's memorial plaque that was sold at auction at Cordy's Auction House in Auckland in July 2015. 

The family found out about the sale about 3 to 4 months later and have not been able to contact the new owners of the plaque, Dee Uren-Perry said. 

"There whereabouts of his medals is unknown," she said.

 - Stuff


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