HAROLD GEORGE TARLTON – Medals gifted to Stoke boy are reunited with marine archeologist Kelly Tarlton’s descendant family.


HAROLD GEORGE TARLTON was born in 1896 in Johannesburg, South Africa the second son of NZ born Howard Sidney Tarlton and wife Louisa Ackerst.  As a result of the imminent start of the Boer War in 1899, the Tarlton family of four returned to New Zealand and Howard went back to his former job with the Bank of New Zealand in Christchurch.  In 1912 Howard being a pacifist decided to relocate to D’Urville Island in the French Pass area of the Marlborough Sounds.  Howard the family settled into farming at Whareatea Bay.  It was from here that 44606 Pte. Harold George TARLTON was called up for war service with the 24th Reinforcements of the Canterbury Regiment in January 1917.  Harold embarked for France in October where he served until being gassed in August 1918.  Following a period of recovery in the UK he re-joined his unit and was promoted to L/Cpl to replace a fallen unit NCO.

L/Cpl Tarlton returned to New Zealand in June 1919 after 2 yrs and 61 days overseas service and was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his service.

After the war Harold returned to the family farm in Whareatea Bay until acquiring his own property in Motueka where he farmed continuously until his retirement and eventual move to Stoke, Nelson in the early 1950s. His widowed mother Louisa by that time was also living in Nelson.

One of Harold’s neighbours in Stoke was the Shattock family and it was their young son Dale who became the recipient of Harold’s WW1 service medals.  Harold and his Nelson born wife Adeline (Dell) Smith had never had children and there were no relatives left to pass them on to so he gave them to young Dale in the early 1970s just prior to making his final move to Te Aroha to live with his youngest brother Roy.  It was here Harold died in March 1976 aged 79 years.  Dale treasured and safeguarded Harold’s medals since that time until recently contacting Brian at MRNZ in the hope we could return the medals to the Tarlton family. 

Our research showed that Harold was one of five sons, the others being Eric Howard, Roy Francis (Engineer), Ivan Maurice (Chimney Sweep) and Ewart Fritz Tarlton (Farmer) all of whom were deceased.   As Harold and Dell had had no children, we focused on his Harold’s next eldest brother Ewart and his family which were easily located in the electoral rolls.  It transpired that one of Ewart’s sons, Kelvin Ewart Tarlton we quickly recognised as being the well known New Zealand diver and photographer, Kelly Tarlton of the ‘Eligamite’ treasure recovery and the Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium fame.  From this connection Rosemary Tarlton, Kelly’s widow, was located and still living in the Auckland area.  Rosemary advised me that in the absence of any other Tarlton family members, she had become the custodian of a great deal of Kelly’s and the wider Tarlton family’s memorabilia, including other family war medals.  As a result Rosemary was delighted to hear from me and that she would be the recipient of Harold’s medals.  Brian sent the medals to Rosemary this week.

Thanks to Dale for contacting us with Harold’s medals, and to Julie for her research assistance.

The reunited medal tally is now 41.

Dale Shattock hands Brian (MRNZ) L/Cpl harold tarlton's medals.

Dale Shattock hands to L/Cpl Tarlton’s medals to Brian (MRNZ)

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