I am from a family that has six generations who have worked and lived on the North Shore. My interest in local history was instilled by my mother who was born and raised in Takapuna. She had a vast knowledge of the area and its history.
My father served in the Army during World War Two and was stationed in the Pacific. He died while I was still a very young child and my military interest was sparked by this link.
For years, each ANZAC day, I placed a poppy on the Memorial Plaque for Lt. Hugh Alexander Forrest. This was on the corner of Forrest Hill and Nile Roads. In 2013, this intersection was upgraded and the plaque was removed during the construction period. I always thought that its placement was quite obscure and saw a chance to get it put in a more prominent position, where people could see it and learn about him. With the help of the Devonport Takapuna Local Board, the Headmaster of Forrest Hill School and the roading contractors, we had it relocated to the front yard of the school. It is now in pride of place, where everyone passing by can view it and learn a small bit about Lt. Forrest from a small information sign that I had made, to go along side the plaque. The children have done a magnificent job of creating a garden around it and maintaining its appearance.
I knew of a couple more of these plaques in the area, being Sanders Avenue in Takapuna and Frater Avenue in Milford. People began talking to me about others scattered around the area too. I looked into it and found three more plaques and another two more streets that were named after local boys killed in action during WW1. These other two streets were Hart Road, Hauraki and Northcroft Street in Takapuna. But neither had the memorial plaques.
I took it upon myself to rectify that.
After quickly getting bogged down in Auckland Council red tape, I received fantastic assistance from Sarah Thorne of the Takapuna North Community Trust. With her help we managed to obtain a Devonport Takapuna Local Board grant to have the missing plaques manufactured and installed. This was done just in the nick of time for me to run a guided walk around them all during the 2018 Auckland Heritage Week. We have also had brochures printed, with all the relevant information and maps, so the public can easily find them.
It was at this time that I also received the 2018 DTLB Heritage Education Award for my efforts in teaching my fellow locals about our fallen heroes.
A beautiful footnote to this story is that renowned local sculptor, Helen Pollock ONZM, gave me an actual lump of clay from Passchendaele. In turn, I gave it to the children of Forrest Hill School. They buried it behind the Memorial Stone and planted a rose bush on top of it.
And the name of that rose? ... Lest We Forget.
The following are descriptions of each of these streets, with accompanying photos of the plaques and fallen heroes. There are also photos of me proudly wearing my father’s service medals on ANZAC day and when I received Devonport Takapuna Local Board Heritage Education Award in 2018. All photos of the servicemen throughout this series are from the Cenotaph Database. All photos of the Plaques are from my own collection.
FORREST HILL ROAD – Named after Lt. Hugh Alexander Forrest.
Hugh (known as Alec) was born in Wellington on 30th May 1893. His parents were Jessie and William Forrest. Hugh also had two brothers and a sister. His father worked for the Post and Telegraph Department and the family moved several times before settling in Devonport where William Forrest was Postmaster.
They lived in Old Lake Road and Hugh went to Devonport Primary School and then on to Auckland Grammar. He became a solicitor's clerk and studied law through Auckland University College from 1910 to 1914, passing his solicitor's qualifying examination. He also played rugby and belonged to the Auckland College Rifles Rugby Football Club.
Hugh was active in the territorial forces before enlisting on 24th July 1916. He was given the rank of Second Lieutenant on arrival at Trentham Camp and was promoted to Lieutenant in February 1917. He departed from Wellington with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, J Company and arrived in Devonport, England on 26th April 1917, then proceeded to Sling Camp until 4th June when his unit left for France. He was posted to B Company of the Rifle Brigade on 27th June and we know that he was on leave in Paris from 21st until 28th August, after which he rejoined his unit.
Lt. Hugh Alexander Forrest was killed in action on 12th October 1917, the day 845 New Zealanders were killed in the First Battle of Passchendaele. The 2nd Battalion, of which Forrest was a member, attacked at 5.25am but a totally ineffective allied barrage meant there was no protection from German machine gun fire and most of the casualties occurred in the first few hours.
Hugh was only 24 years old.
Lt. Hugh Alexander Forrest is buried at the New Irish Farm Cemetery, on the outskirts of Ypres, Belgium.
The Takapuna Borough Council renamed Whites Hill in his honour at a council meeting on the 22nd October 1919. The area of Forrest Hill Road grew to become a large suburb and now proudly carry’s Lt. Forrest’s name for eternity.
He is also remembered on the College Rifles Rugby Club Roll of Honour, the Devonport Primary School memorial granite tablet and the Auckland Grammar School Memorial, amongst others.
SANDERS AVENUE – Named after Lt. Cdr. William Edward Sanders.
Sanders Avenue, Takapuna (previously Beach Avenue) would be our most famous and I’m sure many of you reading this would have a reasonable knowledge of Lt. Cdr. William Edward Sanders.
He is New Zealand’s only naval personnel to ever receive a Victoria Cross. He was awarded this after his command, the HMS Prize, a three-masted schooner that was operated as a “Q” or “Mystery” ship was involved in a showdown with a German U-boat on 30th April 1917, about 180 miles south of Ireland. HMS Prize was quite badly damaged, but they stuck to the plan and fooled the U-boat to approach to within 80 yards, where they quickly raised the White Ensign and opened fire. Within a few minutes the U-boat’s bow rose in the air and down she went. Despite the HMS Prize’s extensive damage, she was later towed to harbour.
About two months later Sanders was involved in another action, for which he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order.
Unfortunately the HMS Prize’s run of success ran out on the 14th August 1917, when she was torpedoed and sunk by another German U-boat and all lives were lost.
The extremely brave and well decorated Lt. Cdr. William Edward Sanders was just 34 years old.
FRATER AVENUE – Named after Lieut. Robert Andrew Frater
Frater Avenue, Milford (previously Milford Avenue) was named after Lieut. Robert Andrew Frater, who embarked with the Auckland Infantry Battalion on the 16th October 1914, bound for Suez, Egypt. Then with the Auckland Infantry Battalion Machine Gun Company, he went fairly quickly into the Gallipoli campaign.
There is a written account of Second Lt. Frater, describing his bravery in scaling Gallipoli Heights whilst leading his machine gun platoon on the 25th April 1915 before being mortally wounded.
At 23 years old, the keen sportsman and yachtsman died later on board HMHS Selam. Lieut. Robert Andrew Frater was buried at sea.
DODSON AVENUE – Named after Lieut. Frederick Hugh Dodson
Dodson Avenue (formerly an extension of Milford Rd) was named after Lieut. Frederick Hugh Dodson, son of Mr and Mrs. A.F. Dodson of Takapuna.
The Dodson’s had sadly lost their 14 year old daughter just five years before Frederick went off to war.
Lieut. Frederick Hugh Dodson left for Suez and ultimately Gallipoli, on the 16th October 1914 on board either the Star of India or Waimana, one of the same ships that Lieut. Robert Andrew Frater also departed on.
The 23 year old Lieutenant was part of the Auckland Infantry Battalion 6th Company, when he too was killed in action at Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915.
Lieut. Frederick Hugh Dodson is also remembered on the Lone Pine Memorial at Anzac Cove, Turkey. He also is on a shared gravestone with his sister at O'Neill's Point Cemetery, Bayswater.
PIERCE ROAD – Named after Second Corporal Arthur Patrick Hector Pierce
Pierce Road, Milford (previously Marine Parade) was named after Second Corporal Arthur Patrick Hector Pierce. He was a little older than a lot of the other locals when he enlisted in May 1916.
Arthur Pierce was a 37 year old married man with three children. He, his wife Winifred and their children lived nearby on Kitchener Road.
Arthur was a successful architect who designed the Pierce Buildings on the corner of Khyber Pass and Symonds Street and also the tea kiosk in the Auckland Domain. This being one of the more famous of his designs that we would all know.
He left New Zealand in April 1917 with the 24th Reinforcement Mounted Rifles, headed for Suez.
The New Zealand Cenotaph Database records Arthur as having died of malaria in Palestine on the 17th October 1918. I have seen another report saying influenza.
Either way, the son of George and Eleanor Pierce, husband of Winifred and more importantly the father of three, did not come home.
Second Corporal Arthur Patrick Hector Pierce is buried at the Ramleh War Cemetery in Israel.
BROWN STREET – Named after Private Geoffrey McPherson Brown
Brown Street at Hauraki Corner (formerly Rawhiti Road). In September 1916 it was renamed by the Takapuna Borough Council in honour of Private Geoffrey McPherson Brown, a teacher at Belmont School and a son of the local Takapuna Schoolmaster, Mr. F. H. Brown.
Private Brown was another who had embarked on the Star of India or Waimana on the 16th October 1914 bound for Suez.
He was with the Auckland Infantry Battalion, 3rd Company when he was killed in Gallipoli on the 8th May 1915, aged a mere 20 years old.
Sadly, the Brown family’s misery was not to end there.
Just over a year later on the 25th September 1916, their second son Private Arthur Noel Brown, a fruit farmer, had enlisted and departed with the 17th Reinforcements, Auckland Infantry Battalion A Company. He served in France but was killed in action on the 4th October 1917 in Ypres, Belgium.
As his brother before him, Private Geoffrey McPherson Brown was only 20 years old at the time of his death. He was laid to rest in the Tyne Cot Cemetery in Zonnebeke.
His name was added with that of his brother on the memorial at Brown Street.
Frances and Emily Brown had lost two young sons in just over two years, serving their King and Empire.
HART ROAD – Named after Second Lieutenant Athol Thomas Hart
Hart Road, Takapuna (formerly Hansen Road), was renamed at a special meeting of the Takapuna Borough Council, on the 22nd October 1919. This meeting was the same one where the names for Sanders Avenue, Forrest Hill Road, and Pierce Road were also adopted.
Hart Road was named in memory of Second Lieutenant Athol Thomas Hart.
He was the eldest son of Edwin and Sara Hart of Lake Road, Takapuna. Athol was a solicitor and was listed with the NZEF 32nd Reinforcements, E Company when they departed on the Maunganui for Liverpool on the 21st November 1917.
Second Lieutenant Athol Thomas Hart was with New Zealand Rifle Brigade in Bapaume, France, when he was killed in action on 21st August 1918, aged 27. That was only nine months to the day from when he left New Zealand.
The Hart’s had a second son, Bryce who also served in WWI and he was invalided back to New Zealand.
NORTHCROFT STREET – Named after Lance Corporal Harry Cuthbert Northcroft
Northcroft Street, Takapuna (formally The Strand West), was named after Lance Corporal Harry Cuthbert Northcroft.
Harry Northcroft was a single man who lived in Park Avenue when he enlisted on the 8th August 1914. As part of the Main Body of the Auckland Mounted Rifles, he left on the 16th October 1914 with the first large wave of troops. He headed into Suez and then of course, off to Gallipoli.
He was killed in action on 19th May 1915. Lance Corporal Harry Cuthbert Northcroft is buried at Walker’s Ridge Cemetery in Anzac Cove.
His parents, Henry and Margaret lived in Rarotonga at the time and Henry had received the NZ Cross from serving in the NZ Wars.
You can download the brochure with maps from this link: https://www.explorenorthshore.nz/media/files/Heritage%20Print.pdf
You can contact Gavin Sheehan via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org