Author(s): Mark Wardlaw
TO COMMEMORATE THE CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY BATTLE OF MESSINES FLANDERS BELGIUM JUNE 7-14 1917 Just like other people living their lives and making plans Peter and Kate would never have thought there would be a world war. If this happened to us how would we cope? This is a true story about two young people who met and fell in love; based on the discovery of letters written a hundred years ago and found in an ornate wooden box tucked away in a cupboard. They swore to be true, but Peter and Kate both had dreams they wished to fulfil before settling down. Kate sailed to New Zealand in 1912 to work as an assistant matron at The Girls' High School in Napier. Peter, an engineer, went into business to manufacture his seed sowing machine in Lutterworth, England.Kate settled into New Zealand life. She made many friends and learned to ride. She experienced North Island's beautiful scenery on horseback. However in June 1914 she started to plan her return trip to Britain.Production had just started at Peter's factory when war broke out in August 1914. He joined the Royal Field Artillery and trained as a gunner. By the time his Brigade sailed for Gallipoli he was a sergeant.He saw action in the Suvla Landing in August 1915, and witnessed the horror of Gallipoli. Kate also experienced the trauma of war as she witnessed the return of wounded soldiers; part of the ANZAC contribution and sacrifice in Gallipoli.Peter's Brigade was transferred to Egypt to guard the Suez Canal. Before leaving for The Somme in July 1916 he was promoted to Lieutenant.Kate continued to travel on her holidays visiting the volcanic wonders in Rotorua and the majestic caves at Waitomo. They were experiencing such different things.Peter's Brigade was involved in many of the bloody battles on The Somme. What he witnessed and the consequences of his actions in command were grinding his spirit down. He was finding it increasingly difficult to write to Kate. He yearned for home leave and Kate's company.In December 1916 after almost five years abroad Kate risked the long sea voyage and the threat of U-boats to return to Britain.Peter was granted leave to attend his younger brother Jimmie's wedding in April 1917 and was re-united with his Fiance. Kate had returned to fulfil her promise to Peter. He had shown his love for her by sending her an engagement ring 11,000 miles to New Zealand. They had kept their love alive through numerous letters.The re-union was passionate but brief. Peter returned to Flanders to prepare for the Battle of Messines.At Messines, June 1917, Peter became a casualty. He was buried alive and lost his leg. After initial treatment at the Front he was transferred to Roehampton Hospital, London and learned to walk again with a prosthetic limb. It was here that he learned of his youngest brother's death in the Navy. Kate also told him that she was pregnant. Was it all too much for him? They were married in September 1917, but Peter deserted his pregnant wife. He could not fulfil his promise to Kate. The War had changed him; Messines had broken him physically and emotionally. He played no part in his son's upbringing. Peter and Kate were my Grandparents.
TO COMMEMORATE THE CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY BATTLE OF MESSINES FLANDERS BELGIUM JUNE 7-14 1917 Just like other people living their lives and making plans Peter and Kate would never have thought there would be a world war. If this happened to us how would we cope?A true story based on the discovery in 2006 of letters written a hundred year ago in an ornate wooden box; about two young people who met and fell in love. They swore to be true, but each had dreams they wished to fulfil before settling down. Kate sailed to New Zealand in February 1912 to work and travel. Peter, an engineer, went into business to manufacture his seed sowing machine in Lutterworth, England. Production had just started when war broke out in August 1914. He joined the Royal Field Artillery and trained as a gunner seeing action in Gallipoli and the Western Front. Kate delayed her return to Britain. Could they get together again? What happened at Messines?
Born in Edinburgh in 1958, Mark Wardlaw was educated at Edinburgh Academy 1967-76 and studied medicine at Dundee University 1976-82.Initially Mark studied Pathology with a view to being a Forensic Pathologist, but missing patient contact; he decided on General Practice and trained in Manchester.After working thirty years in the NHS; the last twenty four as a General Practitioner in Birmingham and Liverpool, he retired with his wife Jane to the rugged beauty of north Cornwall in 2012. Here he was able to pursue his interests in history, music and crafts. It was in Cornwall that his debut novel was written: "Broken by Messines in WW1 - The Grandparents I Never Knew."