A friend gave me a photographed copy of an issue of the very rare
, Arthur Morrish’s Avondalelocal paper, and effectively the first West Aucklandpaper produced. It dates from 28 August 1915, and onone of the pages was printed a column “Our Boys at theFront.” The following was from a letter written by Sgt.Leslie Rotorua Darrow.
“Another interesting letter has come to hand from RotoDarrow dated June 24th. He says:
“Things are very quiet here at present, and here we arenot adopting a progressive policy at all for the timebeing, but merely keeping the Turks up this end busywhile the offensive goes on down below. Whe(n) theyget them on the run down there, we will have our shareagain.
“I had a very interesting trip round one of our posts,which is nearest the enemy’s lines. At one place we arewithin five feet of Turkish trenches and consequentlyhad to keep our mouths shut. If they hear any talking at all, a bomb is the result. At this particular post all thetrenches are very close, the distances ranging from five feet to forty yards. When we first took over thesetrenches you could not put a periscope or rifle up for asecond without it being shot at, but now you can keepthem up for hours. I think at first they had superiorityover us in bomb throwing, but now I think we havethem beaten. One kind of our trench mortars in particu-lar is very deadly, and the Turks used to bolt when theyheard the bomb coming down, yelling “Allah!”
“We had rather a lively time the other day. The Turkslanded a number of 80-inch cannon shells round the Brigade headquarters. While about half a dozen of uswere examining a piece of one, another came along and landed about six feet away from us. We couldn’t flopdown on the ground quickly enough. Luckily they werevery old shells (I heard they were English shells bear-ing the date 1897) and consequently do not have a highexplosive.
“It is getting very hot here now and the flies have be-come unbearable. I thought they got pretty bad in Avondale at times, but here they almost stop you eating your meals. You can’t lie down during the day time for they pester the life out of you.”
Leslie Rotorua “Roto” Darrow was born in 1893. Hisnext of kin, according to the Cenotaph database at the
The Avondale Historical Journal
Volume 11 Issue 64
1/4 portrait of Sergeant Leslie Rotorua Darrow, Reg No12/920, of the 3rd (Auckland) Regiment, Auckland Infantry Battalion, 1915. 31-D357 , Sir George Grey SpecialCollections
Auckland War Memorial Museum, was his brotherHarry Alexander Darrow, and Roto Darrow enlisted in1914 at the school. He embarked 16 October 1914,headed for Suez and Egypt, and then on to Gallipoli.His last unit was the Headquarters of the New ZealandInfantry Brigade.
He was killed in action 10 August 1915, aged 22. Thefolks back home at Avondale, reading his letter in
, would have had no idea that he had died two anda half weeks earlier. Roto Darrow’s name is includedon St Judes Church’s World War I memorial plaque.
A letter from GallipoliConstable Crean is spoofed
Pity our local P. C. Plod in the early days. This from the
, 17 February 1900.“Constable Crean, of Avondale, finds his temper rathercapsized by the enterprising efforts of certain jokers inthat neighbourhood to find him employment in ferretingout mares' nests. A few weeks ago he spent a lot of timeand took a lot of wear out of his number tens in travel-ling the district after a capsized boat and a drownedman, both of which proved to be purely bogus. But hisleg was still more severely pulled on Saturday last over
Just a few of the mini-articles I contribute to Avondale’sSpder web newsletter. — Editor