Newly uncovered photos and a diary of an injured New Zealand soldier are giving a personal insight into the role of the New Forest in World War 1.
The diary of Rifleman Octavius George Garlick of the 1st Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade has come to light as part of research for the New Forest National Park Authority’s New Forest Remembers WWI project. The diary includes a personal account of convalescing at the No.1 New Zealand General Hospital in Brockenhurst, having journeyed from New Zealand by troopship to Egypt, then on to France and Belgium.
Hospitals, industry, camps and training areas took over the Forest during the Great War of 1914 to 1918 and had a significant impact on local residents.
Details of the role the Forest played in the Great War can be discovered in the last few days of the New Forest Remembers WWI exhibition at the New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst, which closes on 1 May. After, the exhibition panels will be on display at Lymington Town Hall until 6 June before touring other New Forest venues for the rest of the year.
Rifleman Garlick’s time in the Forest began when he was transferred to Brockenhurst on 12 June 1917 by boat and train after being wounded while in action at Messines, Belgium.
Once he arrived in the New Forest, Garlick’s photos show a relaxed pace of life for him and other injured New Zealand troops. This included regular visits to woodland near Sway organised by a local woman called Mrs Sladen, tea parties at her house and a trip from Balmer Lawn, Brockenhurst, by horse and cart.
The photos also show servicemen relaxing in hammocks in the Kia Ora Club, which was the hospital social club located on Brookley Road, Brockenhurst. Garlick is shown with his arm in a sling, with other photos showing him at the basket-making school at the hospital as part of his rehabilitation.
WWI project officer Gareth Owen said: “The online documents and photographs held by the New Zealand National Army Museum give a real insight into the care and treatment given to the New Zealand troops at the hospital at Brockenhurst.
“Rifleman Garlick’s photos and diary are one of the few accounts directly linking the New Forest to the theatre of war in Europe and we are very thankful to the museum for allowing us to add this information to our online interactive archive.”
You can explore more of Rifleman Octavius Garlick’s photos and memories, as well as other wartime stories from the New Forest, on the growing online interactive archive www.newforestheritage.org.