Two claim suitcase of memories

Two people have come forward to claim a suitcase containing the war diary of a Dunedin soldier killed in action in France in 1918.

The suitcase full of family mementoes, such as postcards and photographs, was bought by artist Sam Sharpe from a Dunedin second-hand store.

Mr Sharpe wanted to return it to descendants of Private Alfred George Perry, who was killed at Havrincourt on September 29, 1918.

''It's such a shame that it ended up getting donated to an op-shop and has nothing to do with the family,'' Mr Sharpe said.

He understood the suitcase was dropped off at the shop by a man who discovered it when moving house.

Southern District Health Board social worker Phil Sunitsch said a nurse at Dunedin Hospital read last week's ODT article about the suitcase.

''She remembered that we have worked with a Brian Perry.

''I followed up with the facility where Brian now resides and whilst it is probably not the same Brian Perry mentioned in the article, the Brian Perry we know states that Alfred George Perry is his uncle.''

Marie Murphy, of Auckland, was looking up her family tree on an ancestry website when a friend emailed her the ODT story and she found the names matched her ancestry search.

''Private Alfred George Perry sounds like my great-uncle. His parents were Hilda Maria nee Larrson and John Perry.

''His siblings were John Oscar [Jack], Hilda Christina, Eva Wilhelmina, Martha Maria, Henry James, Albert Hans [my grandfather] and Harold Asted.

''It was a surprising discovery.''

If no closer relatives wanted the suitcase, she would like to look at the contents and then donate it to the Hocken Library in Dunedin.

Mr Sharpe said there were probably four generations of family memories in the suitcase.

''It probably stops in the late '80s.

''It's just a real treasure trove.''

The ODT passed Mr Sharpe's details on to both parties.

Mr Sharpe said he would talk to them and would be happy to give the suitcase to the right person.

elliot.parker@odt.co.nz

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