Mission to preserve names

Dunedin Family History Project convener Heather Bray records the details of the honour roll at the former Caversham School (now Carisbrook School) gates. Photos by Gerard O'Brien.
Dunedin Family History Project convener Heather Bray records the details of the honour roll at the former Caversham School (now Carisbrook School) gates. Photos by Gerard O'Brien.
A Dunedin genealogist hopes her efforts will ensure future generations remember the fallen.

The Ode of Remembrance states ''They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn'', but these lines do not hold true for the memorials and honour boards.

Dunedin Family History Group convener Heather Bray, however, hopes to protect the names for all time.

She has visited, she believes, every outdoor memorial in Otago and Southland in a bid to catalogue, cross-reference and put on a database all the names.

''We have over 30,000,'' she said.

''I'm almost confident I have got every war memorial that is outside attached to a hall, a school or a monument in the towns in Otago and Southland. But we have only got 30% of honour boards.''

She now wants help from the public to track down the missing honour rolls.

The honour roll on the former Caversham School gates shows the wear Mrs Bray is worried about.
The honour roll on the former Caversham School gates shows the wear Mrs Bray is worried about.
The database contained the surname, first name, military rank, location of service, location of enlistment and parents' names for every soldier she could find details on.

The project came about because of her own family's frustration.

''I had a great-great-uncle, Albert Wilson, who went away to war ... and I couldn't find him on an honour board anywhere and it's quite frustrating.''

That frustration, combined with the lack of uniformity of detail on honour rolls, led her to start the database.

The project had not been without complication.

''They [honour rolls] are frustrating to do. I have so many J. Smiths that I just can't identify,'' she said.

She hoped to complete the project by 2018, to mark the centenary of the end of World War 1, but admitted: ''I will finish when people stop finding honour boards for me.''

''It will end when I run out of information, but in saying that, then I will take it into South Canterbury.''

timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

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