George William Elsted BLUNDEN
Father John is descibed as "Yeoman of Horndean", and George was the only surviving child of the marriage of John Blunden and Harriett Jelleff.
Lucy Marshall records:
"George in New Zealand:
Just one document has been found that provides some details about George’s activities in New Zealand before his marriage. On 10 Dec. 1912 he sent in an application for the New Zealand War Medal and this provides his version, over 40 years later, of his war service in South Taranaki during the Land Wars.
I George William Blunden do respectfully apply to be granted a New Zealand War Medal. I was in the Wanganui Malisia at the Oakoa [Oakura] redoubt and under fire at that place also orderly to Major Nooks; I then joined the Veteran Volunteers Cap Kells, proceeded to the Front at Nukamara pah, then maned [sic] the Whytotara redoubt for some months then drove Mories off the river for about 50 miles, also up the Patea and Whytotara river where a number of moirés were taken prisoners I was under fire several times during this expedition. We took a quantity of loot and destroyed all Pahs and cultivations. As far as I can remember I was about 18 months at the front and doing duty in Wanganui. I am in my 80 year, have 8 children living, one at school. I have the full old age pension, no property.
On the Application form in the section ‘Corps in which served, rank and period of service’ he wrote: Wanganui Malisia, Veteran Volunteers Cap Kells, about 18 months as far as I remember.
Under ‘period of service in the field, place and date when claimant under fire;’ About 18 months. At Okawho [?] redoubt 6 weeks guard duty, in Wanganui about 6 months, Waverley redoubt about 6 weeks. The rest of the time driving Mories of rivers and other duties. I was under fire up the Whytotara river and other rivers driving the mories of destroying their pah and cultivations.
Under ‘Remarks’ he wrote:
It is a long time since and as I am in my 80 year [he was 73] my memory is not very good. I have filled in the form as near as I can remember. I did not apply before as I had not heard of pension.”
George William Blunden, Private
A reply was sent in January 1913 saying that he needed to supply evidence from witnesses to support his claim that would then be heard before a Stipendiary Magistrate who would then report back to
Headquarters. Some help was offered but this would have been a daunting requirement after 40 years. There is no evidence to suggest that he pursued his claim or that his application was successful.
An attempt to correlate this account with the record of campaigns in Taranaki as detailed in the two volumes, The New Zealand wars and the pioneering period by James Cowan, first published in 1922, was at first inconclusive as there was fighting in the area indicated both in 1865 and in 1868-9. There was an indecisive campaign in 1865 when Lt. Gen. Cameron had orders to take possession of the Waitotara Block. See Chapter 5 in Vol. II, in which Nukumaru in south Waitotara, 15 miles from Wanganui, featured - but Cameron was in command of imperial troops. George Blunden served in the militia.
It is more likely that George Blunden was involved in the final campaign against Titokowaru detailed in Chapter 29 of the above volume. Having successfully concluded his campaign against Te Kooti on the East Coast, Colonel Whitmore transferred most of his Armed Constabulary to the Wanganui area. While Whitmore was absent on his East Coast campaign recruits for the Armed Constabulary came pouring in from the South Island and Australia and all December of 1868 the officers and non-commissioned officers….were busy drilling the new men. Vol. II p. 287. Was George one of these recruits? Possibly he was already in New Zealand.
Colonel Whitmore arrived at Wanganui on 18 January 1869 and at once prepared for an attack on Titokowaru at his stronghold of Tauranga-ika, 18 miles from Wanganui. Titokowaru abandoned this fort without a fight and by early February he and his followers were in retreat, pursued by Whitmore’s forces. Although actual fighting then ceased and Colonel Whitmore returned to the east coast to fight Te Kooti, ‘several important expeditions were carried out by the colonial forces in the South Taranaki and Waitotara districts during April, May, June and July 1869.’ p. 310. Major Noake and Captain Kells are both mentioned as leaders of these raids up the Waitotara, Whenuakura and Patea rivers.and so it seems likely that these were the raids remembered by George Blunden. For further details see Cowan, pp. 311-13.
George Blunden stated that he was orderly to Major Noake who was ‘an imperial Cavalry officer’ before coming to New Zealand. He served in the Scots Greys in the Crimea and was severely wounded at Balaclava. He was in command of the Wanganui Military District for some time and afterwards settled at Onoke, Hokianga.’ p. 509.
Marriage and Family:
The next record of George Blunden is his marriage to Sarah Buchanan on 5 March 1877 at Carnarvon in the Rangitikei area, about 50 kilometres south east of Wanganui. The first settlers arrived there about 1874. On the Application to Marry document George was described as a shepherd who had been in the Carnarvon area for the past two years. He gave his age as 33 but he was actually 37.
The Family at Sanson:
Florence Blunden, the first child of George and Sarah, was born at Carnarvon 14 December 1877 and
her birth was registered in the Foxton district.
Annie Jane Blunden was born 18 August 1879 and registered in the Rangitikei district but her
birthplace was noted as at ‘Sandon’ in the family Bible. The town was subsequently named
‘Sanson’ after Henry Sanson the secretary of the Hutt Small Farms Assn but the original subdivision
was the Sandon Block. This has caused confusion.
John Herbert (Jack) Blunden was born 27 August 1881 at Sandon (family Bible) but not registered
until 1882 at Foxton.
Neil Blunden was born 18 November 1883 and registered at Sanson.
Jessie Blunden was born 10 May 1886 and registered at Sanson. She always remembered that she
was supposed to be registered as ‘Jessie May’ but her father omitted the second name.
George William Blunden, ‘Blenden’ in Birth Index, was born 8 September 1888 and registered at
Margaret Ellen (Maggie) Blunden was born 13 February 1891 and registered at Sanson.
Catherine Sarah Blunden was born 28 April 1894 and registered at Sanson. She is recorded as
‘Katrine Sarah’ in the Family Bible, ‘Catherine’ in the BDM indexes, later ‘Kath’ to family.
Two more children were born at Kimbolton, in the Manchester block, near Palmerston North
Reginald Paul 22 March 1899, registered there, and Harold Charles, 1 March 1901.
George William Blunden, ‘retired farmer’, died 7 February 1920 as recorded on his death certificate but on 8 February according to the Family Bible. In both records is age is given as 86 whereas he was actually only 80. An extra Christian name appears for the first time in both records, ‘Ealstard’ on the death certificate, ‘Elsted’ in the Family Bible. His half-brother was Godfrey Halstead Blunden, presumably named for John Blunden’s uncle by marriage, William Halstead. Jack and Ivy Blunden later named a son ‘Elsted Blunden’. Cause of death is recorded as ‘acute bronchitis, 4 days, cardiac failure, 12 hours’. His father is given as ‘Sir John Blunden, Doctor of Medicine’, neither of which is correct. His mother is ‘Harriet, maiden surname unknown’. His birthplace is given as ‘Sussex’, but he was actually born in Hampshire. He was thought to have been in New Zealand for 56 years. This would indicate an arrival about 1863 but cannot be confirmed. His age at marriage is again given as 33. These numbers are not consistent as if he was 86 when he died and 33 when he married [in 1866] his bride, born in 1857, would have been just nine years old! George William Blunden was buried in Feilding cemetery 10 February 1920 next to his youngest son, Harold Blunden.
Lucy Marshall records:
"Sarah Buchanan was not quite 20 whern she married George Blunden. She was born in Sydney on 13 May 1857, the eldest daughter of Neil and Ann Buchanan and her family had been in the Carnarvon district for just six months. Her father was born in Argyll, Scotland and her mother in Warrington, Lancs.
Sarah Blunden died at Levin 17 Jan. 1937 aged 79 and was buried with her husband and son at Feilding. She had made her will 25 April 1935. In it she appointed her eldest son John Herbert Blunden and her son-in-law George Marshall as Executors and Trustees. They were to convert her assets into money and, after paying her funeral and testamentary expenses, to distribute her estate in equal shares to her children. If any children had predeceased her, their share was to be divided equally among their living children. Any advance made to a child during her lifetime was to be taken into account at the final distribution.
Lucy Marshall records:
"Florence, born 14 Dec.1877, died 6 May 1957, married 5 May 1895 Thomas Waite Collins 1872-1
Neil Buchanan Collins, 1895-1973.
Norman Knight Collins, 1897-1978.
Margaret Laura Collins, 1899-1965.
Hilary Douglas Collins, 1902-1983.
Mavis Vera Anne Collins, 1908-2000.
Thomas Waite Collins was born at New Plymouth in 1872, the grandson of first settlers in Taranaki.
Tom and Florrie Collins lived first in Palmerston North where he was a builder. Later they had a farm at Ohura before moving back to New Plymouth. Their first three children were older than Florrie’s youngest brother, Harold Blunden. Neil and Norman Collins both went overseas in WW1 but only Neil saw active service in France. Tom Collins was well known for brewing a great variety of wines as a hobby in his retirement at New Plymouth.
Annie Jane BLUNDEN
Annie Jane, born 18 August 1879, died 24 Sep. 1901, married 6 June 1900 George Shaw 1880-1959.
John Herbert BLUNDEN
John Herbert, born 27 Aug. 1881, died 31 Mch 1958, married 3 June 1908 Olive Ivy Myrtle Anne Mexted 1887-1970.
Inez Sarah Blunden, 1909-1985.
Herbert Mexted Blunden, 1911-1940.
Violet Agnes Blunden, 1913-1999.
Phyllis Katherine Blunden, 1919-1959.
Elsted Reginald Blunden, 1920-2006.
Lucy Marshall records:
"On 3 June 1908 John Blunden aged 26, married Ivy Mexted aged 21 at Feilding. His brother Neil was best man and his sister Jessie was a bridesmaid. An account of the wedding was printed in the Feilding Star and a photo exists that illustrates the description of the gowns and hats worn by the bride and her attendants.
Jack and Ivy Blunden farmed at Kakariki near Halcombe. The family were interested in horses, especially in show jumping. As a child the eldest son Herbie rode an outstanding pony De Wet at the Palmerston North Shows for several years. Later he won prizes for steer riding. Then as a gentleman jockey he rode numerous winners on the racetrack. Herbie died in a car accident aged 29.
Neil, born 18 Nov. 1893, died 27 June 1968, married 24 April 1916 Evelyn Florence Gray 1894-1978.
Child: Mabel Joyce Blunden, 1917-1996.
Lucy Marshall records:
"Neil Blunden also enlisted 5 Sep. 1917 at Palmerston North. His army number was 75760. He had married Evelyn Florence Gray in Levin 24 April 1916 and they had a daughter, Mabel Joyce, born 23 March 1917. His height was 5ft 9”, weight 156lbs, chest expansion 34-38. He had grey eyes. His religion was Methodist. For the past two years he had been a farm manager for D H McLean at Cunningham, 12 miles NE of Feilding. He had also served for two years in the Feilding Mounted Rifles. Asked for details about his parents, he knew that his father had been born in England and his mother in Sydney, Australia but was less accurate about the length of time since his parents had arrived in New Zealand.
He did not commence duty until 3 April 1918. After just over three months in New Zealand he arrived at Sling Camp in England 31 August 1918 where he remained until the end of the war. He was finally discharged 20 August 1919.
Neil and Reg Blunden before the war managed a farm in the Horowhenua between the main road north and Waiterere Beach. Their sister Jessie kept house for them. Neil met his wife, Eva Gray in the nearby town Levin. After his return from WW1, Neil and Eva Blunden had a farm at Kakariki a mile down the road from his brother Jack.
George William BLUNDEN
GeoGeorge William, born 8 Sep. 1888, died 19 Sep. 1963, married 9 June 1926 Hazel Johnston 1894-1961.
Reginald George Ashley Blunden, 1927- 2009
John Ernest Blunden, 1929-
Marie Louise Blunden, 1930-
Neil Johnston Blunden, 1933-
Lucy Marshall records:
"George Blunden enlisted as a volunteer at Feilding a fortnight after war was declared. He was just on 26 years old. His war records, obtained from Archives New Zealand in Wellington, give his occupation as a labourer and his religion as Wesleyan. Next-of-kin was his mother, Mrs G W Blunden of Denbigh St, Feilding. He had already served for four years in the Mounted Rifles. He was 5 ft 11” tall and weighed 11 st. 5lbs. His chest expansion was 36” - 40”. No problems were found during his medical examination and it was noted that he had ‘good teeth. He was given the number 10/560 and drafted into the 7th W W C Co of the Wellington Infantry Battalion.
Two months later, on 15 Oct. 1914 was on his way to Egypt by Transport No. 3 and arrived there 3 Dec. 1914. He embarked for the Dardanelles 12 April 1915 for the ill-fated landing at Gallipoli. He was wounded on 27 April and the casualty report of 28 April described the gun shot would to his left forearm as ‘severe’. He had suffered an oblique wound in the upper body that also damaged his shoulder. He lay out in no man’s land overnight. Turkish soldiers came out and were booting any soldiers they found lying there to make sure they were dead. If any showed signs of life they shot them. The Turks booted George in the shoulder but he managed not to cry out or flinch and they left him. Next morning he managed to regain his own lines. He was initially sent to a makeshift hospital in Cyprus that was open but surrounded by wire netting. Turkish Cypriots would come and spit on the wounded soldiers as they lay there.
On 1 May he was admitted to the 17th General Hospital at Alexandria and a week later he was on board the hospital ship Gurkha on his way to England. A month later he was admitted to the Second Western General Hospital at Manchester. Early in July he was transferred to Brockenhurst in the New Forest and the New Zealand Military Hospital at Walton-on-Thames, London. On 16 August 1916, just two years after enlisting, he embarked on the Willochra for New Zealand. On 30 October 1916 he was struck off the strength of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force as being ‘no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action’. He was finally discharged in New Zealand 19 Nov. 1916. For the rest of his life he had a deep hole in his shoulder as a result of this wound.
After George Blunden was invalided back from the war, he originally bought a farmlet of 35 acres at Katikati. In 1926 he married Hazel Johnston, the sister of a soldier friend. She came from Thames where her family owned a bakery. Later she worked in a jeweller’s shop. George and Hazel Blunden farmed at Katikati before moving to Birkenhead, Auckland in the early 1930s
Margaret Ellen BLUNDEN
Margaret Ellen, born 13 Feb. 1891, died 28 April 1898.
Katherine Sarah BLUNDEN
Lucy Marshall records:
"Katherine Sarah, born 28 April 1894, died 23 July 1968, married 21 April 1922 John Alexander
Graham Stuart Ronald Macdonald, ‘Scotch’, 1924-1999.
Norma Margaret Sarah Macdonald, 1925-
Katherine Blunden attended Feilding High School for a few years. When she was 16 she had all her teeth extracted, a sad reflection on the current lack of dental care. Later Katherine worked for some years as a nurse aid at Northcote Hospital in Palmerston North, owned by Miss Lou Roby.
Jack Macdonald was born at Thames in 1881. He went to sea when quite young and sailed round Cape Horn several times. He then became a marine engineer. Being deaf, the noise in the engine-room did not worry him. After their marriage he and Katherine had shares in the Duchess, a harbour ferry from Wellington that he brought up to Auckland. It broke down halfway but he managed to repair it and finish the trip. He ran regular services between Great Barrier Island, Waiheke and Auckland. He built a house
on Waiheke Island with a number of nautical features. Jack would either sail or row his boat from a beach near Kenny Road in Remuera, where he lived, across to Waiheke Island.
Reginal Paul BLUNDEN
Reginald Paul, born 22 Mch 1897, died 27 Aug. 1918.
Lucy Marshall records:
" Six weeks after he turned 20 Reginald Paul Blunden enlisted for military service at Feilding 8 May 1917. At the time he was a farm hand at Taumatatahi in the Waitotara district, employed by F Lifferton. His religion was P(lymouth) Brethren. He had served in the Mounted Rifles. Reginald was 5ft 10” with a chest expansion of 34-37. He had light brown hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. His medical examination showed him as normal in all respects. He stated he had no desire to make a will. On his enlistment form he was asked for details about his parents but he had little knowledge about their backgrounds. He thought his father had been born in Australia, not England and that his mother had been born at Rongotea instead of Sydney. He thought his father had been in New Zealand for 40 years but that was just the time since his marriage.
His army number was 59591 and he asked to serve in the 31st Reinforcements. He was posted to F Co. of the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment 27 June 1917. He embarked at Wellington 13 Oct. and disembarked at Liverpool 8 Dec. 1917. The following day he was marched into Sling Camp. On 15 Dec. he was admitted to isolation Hospital at Sidmouth but was taken on the strength at Sling on 24 Dec. He left for France 14 Feb. 1918 and was attached to the strength at Abeele 19 Feb. He joined his battalion, was posted to the 12th Co. and went to the field 22 Feb 1918. On 13 August he was confined to barracks for two days for being ‘unshaven on parade’.
Reginald Paul Blunden aged 21, was killed in France. He was wounded in action 25 August 1918 by a gunshot wound in his back, admitted to No 1 Field ambulance, then to No. 29 Casualty clearing station and died two days later.
After the war a soldier from his unit visited the family and gave them particulars of his death. He was hit by shrapnel in the abdomen but at first his wound was not regarded as serious. ‘This is a Blighty one,’ he quipped, meaning he would be sent back to England. He must have bled internally - he was a ‘bleeder’ - and died 27 August 1918. He is buried in the Bagneux British Cemetery at Gezaincourt.
Harold Charles BLUNDEN
Harold Charles, born 1 Mch 1901, died 19 June 1918.
Lucy Marshall records :
"Harold Charles Blunden, the youngest child, was accidentally drowned in the Waitotara River. He was just 17 years old and was apparently staying with his older brother Jack, who was managing a farm in that district. Two yellowed newspaper clippings tell the sad story.
THE LAD BLUNDEN
Further information has been gathered by the police respecting the whereabouts of the lad Blunden who is missing from the Waitotara district, and which indicates the fate of the unfortunate lad. It appears
he had made arrangements with a mate to go out pig hunting. He was to meet his mate on the opposite side of the Waitotara river. He was riding a horse which carried a pack-saddle, and had to cross at a ford which he had crossed a number of times and which he knew quite well. The river was in flood and was much higher than usual. As he did not turn up at the place appointed, his mate became alarmed, and search parties were instituted. The horse was found in the river, drowned, a little way below the ford. The river is very discoloured and swollen. It is full of snags, and not much hope is entertained of recovering the body under present conditions.
Nearly three weeks later there was further news:
UPPER WAITOTARA NOTES
There was a feeling of great relief when it became known that the body of the late Harold Blunden had been found. Neighbours had been out continuously since the day of the accident and were rewarded after a three weeks’ diligent search. Enough praise cannot be given to those who so untiringly gave their help, especially Mr Annabell. The body was placed in a handsome casket made by Mr Chesswas and taken to Feilding for interment. We extend our deepest Sympathy to Mr Jack Blunden and his family in their bereavement.
Harold Charles Blunden died 19 June and was buried at Feilding cemetery 11 July 1918. His black-edged bereavement card includes the following lines:
He left his home in perfect health.
He little thought of death so nigh.
But God saw best to take him home
And with His will we must comply
The shock was great, the pain severe
To part with one we loved so dear;
Our Trial’s hard we’ll not complain,
But trust in God to meet again.
An invoice from the Borough of Feilding Cemetery exists giving the cost of Harold Blunden’s burial, including a double plot, as six pounds seventeen shillings and sixpence. This invoice was endorsed as ‘paid by cheque from G. Marshall’, Jessie’s husband.