SA-2699 / 2588 – GERALD ADAM PAUL
This is a fascinating, if rather lengthy, story of the commitment to military service by a number of families, all linked to the son of a New Plymouth brewery owner who: graduated from Wanganui Collegiate, joined the Royal Horse Artillery Volunteers of the Permanent Militia in New Plymouth, served as a Gunner with ‘H’ Battery of the NZ Field Artillery Corps in Nelson, fought with the New Zealanders in South African (twice), aspired to a commission in NZ Permanent Forces, fought with the Canadians in the First World War, and died in the USA.
Mike F. from Auckland sent a trio of WW1 medals (above) to MRNZ in November 2014. When they arrived I noted the medals had been pinned together by a two ribbon medal bar, not of the WW1 medals but of two campaign medals awarded for service in the South African (Anglo-Boer) War, 1899 – 1902 (aka the 2nd Boer War). The medals were correctly impressed and named to: 2588 SJT. G. A. PAUL. The unit was impressed in two variations on the medals: LD . S ’ CONA ’ S. H. and L. S. H. – R. C. – obviously not a New Zealander judging by those letters! These letters however piqued my interest since they did look vaguely familiar – I needed to at least resolve that mystery before considering the implications of researching the case.
After entering a series of combinations of the impressed letters on the edge of the medals into my computer, I soon had an answer … Lord Strathcona’s Horse (LSH and LdSH). Their familiarity returned as I recalled from my military service with the Canadian Forces many years ago; this was a cavalry unit, still in existence today as an armoured (tank) unit.
The small ribbon bar contained the ribbons of the Queen’s South Africa (QSA) medal and the King’s South Africa (KSA) medal, the later being awarded to very few New Zealander soldiers – only 178 were award among 6,500 New Zealand soldiers of the 10 NZ Contingents who had participated in the 2nd Boer War. 18 months service was required to qualifying for the KSA and on the face of it Sgt/Lt. Paul had not accumulated this with his two tours of duty with the 5th and 10th NZMR Contingents.
With the exception of his enlistment at New Plymouth and a father’s letter bearing a New Plymouth address, for all I knew he could have been any nationality, a recent immigrant or not? Although Lt. Paul’s WW1 medals were clipped together with a QSA and KSA ribbon bar, there was nothing on his file to indicate qualifying for or the issue of a KSA medal. In the absence of any information to the contrary I assumed at that point he had been issued both medals. I then had to figure out how he could have possibly qualified for the KSA. I surmised that if he had qualified, it would have been for accumulated service after King George VII’s accession to the throne upon the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, and after New Zealand’s commitment had ceased following the return of the 10th Contingent in August 1902.
The only other variable in this mix of ideas was the possibility that Lt. Paul could have returned to South Africa again after his discharge in NZ in 1902. Since his WW1 medals indicated he had joined a Canadian unit for WW1 service, perhaps he had made the connection in South Africa with either a Canadian or British (horse artillery?) unit, returned to South Africa to join one of these and then proceeded to return to Canada or the UK once their period of occupation in South Africa had ended? It was a ‘long bow’ however it was all I had in the absence of any hard evidence to the contrary.
Case assessment – this case technically involved finding a ‘foreign’ recipient, it would probably be very time consuming and so a lengthy search, therefore it would have to wait.
Whenever a medal arrives at MRNZ belonging to a non-New Zealander they generally to take second place to the medals awarded to New Zealanders. Researching a non-NZ soldier’s medal tends to be very time consuming as information is often much harder to source and can be potentially expensive. Aside from this, these WW1 medals had arrived while MRNZ was in Christchurch at a time when I was mid-stream buying a house in Nelson, would need to spend about six months gutting and renovating it, and then organise our re-location from Christchurch. All the while juggling a new job and spending what little time was left over trying to keep up with the current NZ cases.
Having completed both the Nelson house renovation (longer than expected) and relocation from Christchurch by August 2016, I decided to resign from my job to concentrate on medal research – I had already started into the back-log and so now had the time to take another look at Sgt. Paul’s case.
Anticipating a long and slow search, my first task was to find out what Sgt. “ G. A.” Paul’s forenames were. Not having these would make identification of the correct person and therefore the relevant records, very difficult. I searched the internet and all things Canadian, military, WW1 until eventually finding a single record relating to the LdSH – it was a partial Nominal Roll for the year 1915. Luck was on my side as 2668 Sgt. G. A. Paul appeared on the Roll – service number, rank, initials, age, unit, date and place of enlistment and birth – but no forenames. However what really caught my eye was the last column on the Roll: “Where Born …. New Zealand“. This soldier was a Kiwi ! – I was flabbergasted and instantly changed my research direction to seek out any New Zealand records that might build a picture of this man, how he came to be serving with the Canadians, and what his eventual fate was.
Gerald Adam Paul had been born in New Plymouth on 08 Oct 1880 to settler parents James PAUL (1862-1906) from Scotland, and Taranaki born Alice CUNNINGHAM (1869-1931), also of Scots settler parents resident in New Plymouth. James Paul had left the Clyde in Scotland aboard the ship ‘Jura’ in 1862 which was taking mainly prospectors to the Victorian goldfields in Australia. During the voyage James learned of the success miners were having a gold rush which had started a few months prior in 1861 at Gabriel’s Gully in Otago. As a result James altered his destination to New Zealand. The ‘Jura’ arrived at Port Chalmers Dunedin on 6th Oct 1862 and from there James made his way to Gabriel’s Gully at Lawrence, Central Otago.
It seemed the overwhelming numbers of miners, next to no facilities and an extremely cold winter environment was not quite what James had anticipated; as a consequence he decided to head to his originally intended destination of Melbourne and the goldfields at Ballarat,Victoria. Unfortunately James missed his Melbourne bound ship he was supposed to board at Invercargil and so boarded another carrying military settlers destined for New Plymouth. James decided to stay and took on labouring jobs and farm work in the fledgling town of New Plymouth. He also spent some time in the local militia as a volunteer soldier for the protection of local settlers against marauding natives during the period of the New Zealand Land Wars. In 1878 James (36) married Alice CUNNINGHAM (18), their wedding being held at ” Cairn Dhu“ the residence of Alice’s father William Cunningham. James Paul entered a partnership with several financial backers to set up one of the first breweries in New Plymouth, the Egmont Brewery, later the Egmont Brewery and Aerated Waters Factory, which when built in 1878 was the first concrete building in New Zealand. The brewery ran for 108 years during which time James had also served for a period as Mayor of New Plymouth.
Between 1880 and 1886 James and Alice Paul had a family of one daughter and four sons – Ida Grace, the eldest, Gerald Adam, Stanley Drynan, Ronald Cassells, and Sydney Victor Paul. The Paul boys were fortunate their father could afford to select the best schools for them – Gerald boarded at the prestigious Wanganui Collegiate boys school while Stanley, Ronald and Sydney attended the equally prestigious but closer, New Plymouth Boys’ High School.
After completing his secondary schooling Gerald Paul briefly worked for his father before taking a Brewers position at the Dodson’s Brewery in Nelson. Gerald had also voluntarily enlisted as a Gunner with the Nelson based ‘H’ Battery of the NZ Field Artillery Corps. The Battery’s armament comprised four six-pounder Nordenfeldt quick-firing guns, with harness complete. The Volunteers drilled every Thursday evening; and each November, the Battery went into a training camp for sixteen days, during which a thorough course of drill and gun training was carried out with all ranks being examined for efficiency badges.
Sydney Paul, being the heir apparent to the family brewing business, sunk himself into learning the trade.
Stanley Paul had studied chemistry at school and became a qualified pharmacist, establishing a dispensary in Blenheim (his married sister Ida Bennett, was a doctor’s wife living in Blenheim and also Stanley’s dispensary assistant).
Ronald Paul had remained working in his father’s brewery before eventually making his way to Wanganui, and then Auckland where he worked first as a shop assistant and later opened his own business as a general merchant. He remained in Auckland until his untimely death in 1934.
In 1899 New Zealand answered Britain’s call for a commitment to the 2nd Anglo-Boer War in South Africa. A mounted rifle contingent, the first of 10, was raised; the New Zealand Mounted Rifles (NZMR) 1st “Rough Riders” Contingent sailed for Durban South Africa in October. Gerald, who by the end of 1899 had completed 12 months of service with ‘H’ Battery, would be an automatic choice for the forthcoming reinforcements.
SA-2699 Sergeant Gerald Adam Paul was 20 years old when he embarked for South Africa with the 5th “Rough Riders” Contingent, NZMR on the S.S. Waimate in April 1900. Sgt. Paul’s artillery experience saw him attached to a Royal Horse Field Artillery unit for the majority of his 14 months in South Africa. He returned to NZ unscathed in Sep 1901 and was keen to volunteer for a second tour of duty. Gerald’s father was adamant that if he was to make anything of himself Gerald should become a commissioned officer.
After Gerald’s return home in 1902, his father James Paul who was a personal and professional friend of Lt. Colonel Stuart Newall, the Wellington District Militia Commander (the Wellington Military District at that time included the Marlborough and Tasman districts), wrote him a letter saying that Gerald would like to join the 10th Contingent if he could obtain a “junior” commission. A commission his father believed, would afford Gerald a better social status with which to “make associations from a social point of view and to pursue the many opportunities likely to be available for young fellows starting life” in South Africa after the war. This was backed up with a personal letter of application from Gerald Paul.
SA-2699 2nd Lieutenant Gerald Adam Paul had been appointed to a commission and assigned to the post of Troop Commander, ‘D’ Squadron of the North Island Regiment, Tenth Contingent New Zealand Mounted Rifles (or “Imperial Bushmen” as the were referred to by the British command). The Tenth sailed from Wellington on 19 April 1902 aboard the S.S. Drayton Grange and arrived at Durban on 27 May, just four days before the the peace negotiations successfully concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging on 31 May in Pretoria, effectively ending the Second Boer War. 2nd Lieut. Paul returned to NZ in mid July, 1902.
Length of Service: 1 year 214 days (total for 5th & 10th Contingents)
Awards: Queen’s South Africa (QSA) medal with Clasps: Transvaal, Rhodesia, Cape Colony, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902
Gerald Paul resumed his work as a Brewer with his father after the war. In 1907 he married local girl Annie HARPER of New Plymouth however the marriage does not appear to have lasted. Upon the death of his father James Paul in 1909, Gerald’s younger brother Sydney was made head of the Egmont Brewery, his mother Alice having inherited directorship and her husband’s controlling shares of the Brewery’s partnership holdings. Whether Gerald became disenchanted with this situation and wanted his own career, or whether a rift had developed between he and Annie, or both, is unknown. Whatever the case something transpired which caused Gerald to leave New Plymouth to live with his bachelor brother Stanley in Blenheim. Stanley Paul, a qualified chemist, had established himself in his own dispensary in the town. Stanley and Gerald’s older sister Ida Grace Bennett (known as Grace) was also living in Blenheim by then, she working with Stanley as his dispensary assistant.
Ida Grace Paul had met and subsequently married a Glasgow doctor and surgeon, James Freeborn Bennett, who had practiced in New Plymouth since 1903. The Bennett’s moved to Blenheim after Grace’s father’s death in 1909, Dr. Bennett running a private practice until being appointed as Superintendent of Blenheim’s Wairau Hospital in 1915. He died unexpectedly in 1935. Gerald Paul meantime had taken a job as a trainee Auctioneer of land, farms, stock and farm equipment. His official occupation was that of “Land and Estate Agent” which soon led to the more lucrative occupation of “Wool Buyer” for which he enjoyed regular travel around NZ and occasionally overseas.
Why Canada ?
Gerald had originally wanted to pursue a military career and/or opportunities in South Africa however these ideas faded after his return to NZ and he returned to brewing. Any thoughts of returning to South Africa or a military career further faded after he met and married Annie Harper. Whether Gerald’s decision to leave NZ was motivated by a rift between he and Annie, or an unrequited desire to join the Royal Horse Artillery in England is unknown. He may well have been motivated by the friendships and associations with the English and Canadian artillery soldiers and officers he served with whilst attached to the Royal Horse Artillery during his two tours of duty to South Africa.
What is known is that 30 year old Gerald Paul left Wellington on 15 December 1910 aboard the RMS Ruapehu bound for Montivideo. Gerald’s given occupation on the passenger manifest was that of “Stock Salesman”, he being one of only eight Saloon passengers, the others being four Wool Classers, a Commercial Traveller and a Jockey. Nothing is known of Gerald’s movements from that time however it may be assumed he had made his way to the UK since the next record he appears on places him on a shipping manifest in 1913.
A 1913 shipping manifest of the S.S. Canada confirmed the arrival from Southampton and immigration of “Mr. G. Paul” to Quebec, Canada. Gerald had arrived in Canada at a time the Canadian government had offered a 10,000 troop contribution to the Imperial Forces for service in Egypt and France. Recruiting was in full swing with territorial militiamen being called up to boost recruit numbers. Gerald’s military experience and war service with the NZMR, as both a Senior NCO and a junior Officer with the Royal Horse Artillery in the South African campaign, made him perfect recruiting material.
WW1 – Lord Strathcona’s Horse (R.C.) (Royal Canadians)
2588 Sergeant Gerald Adam Paul was 32 years of age when he enlisted at Valcartier Camp, Quebec on 24 August 1914, and was attested on 23 Sep 1914 at the Canadian Cavalry Depot, Quebec. At the time of his enlistment Gerald had been working as a Fireman in Vancouver and gave his contact address as: C. Robinson, c/- No 2 Fire Hall, Vancouver, BC.
His medical inspection at Valcartier recorded his being: FIT – 5′ 11½” in height, medium complexion, brown/hazel eyes, hair – Iron Grey; tattoo – butterfly back of left or rt. forearm (record states both ?)
Gerald Paul’s previous war service with the NZ Mounted Rifles and Royal Horse Artillery in South Africa, resulted in him being taken on strength of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) with the rank of Sergeant on 23 Sep 1914. Sgt. Paul was appointed the Squadron Quarter Master Sergeant (SQMS) of “C” & “D” Squadrons of the Strathcona Horse.
Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) had seen war service in South Africa however had been disbanded after their return to Canada in 1902. The unit was re-raised in 1914 as mounted infantry to form part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) that would be sent to France. Strathcona’s Horse was initially assembled at the Canadian Cavalry Depot in Quebec and then moved to the newly constructed CEF mobilisation camp, also in Quebec, that had been built within the town boundaries of Saint Gabriel de Valcartier – the camp being named “Valcartier Camp”. A large portion of the town had been appropriated to build the WW1 training camp becoming the largest in Canada with some 32,000 men and 8,000 horses at its peak. Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) – to give the unit its full regimental title – still exists today as a mechanized armoured (tank) brigade of the Canadian Forces. The LdSH (RC) are still based at the former mobilisation camp that is now known as Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Valcartier.
The LdSH (RC) having mobilized on 14 September 1914, embarked for England on October 3rd to undergo preparatory training and rehearsals on the Salisbury Plain before their arrival at Etaples, France on 05 May 1915. The LdSH (RC) fought as dismounted infantry in the trenches of the Somme with Seeley’s Detachment (really the Canadian Cavalry Brigade). In Jan 1916 the Regiment resumed its mounted horse (cavalry) role as part of 1st Canadian Cavalry Brigade with whom they continued to fight in France and Flanders until the end of the war.
The Battle of Festerburt (15-25 May 1915) was conducted in the Artois region of northern France. Strathcona’s Horse as part of the 1st Canadian Division had arrived in Festerburt on 04 May 1915. Their attack was preceded by a 60-hour bombardment by 433 artillery pieces that fired about 100,000 shells. This bombardment failed to significantly damage the front line defences of the German 6th Army but the initial advance made some progress in good weather conditions. The attack was renewed on 16 May and by 19 May two of the German Divisions had to be withdrawn due to heavy losses. On 18 May, the Canadian Division, assisted by the 51st (Highland) Division, attacked but made little progress in the face of German artillery fire. The British forces dug in at the new front line in heavy rain while the Germans brought up reinforcements and reinforced their defences. From 20–25 May the attack was resumed and Festubert was captured.
The German artillery bombardment of the Canadian Division on 24 May resulted in Sgt. Paul sustaining shrapnel wounds from exploding shells around his trench. after immediate Field Ambulance treatment he was evacuated on 26 May to No. 13 Static Hospital (the Hospital Ship Salta) berthed at Boulogne. His wounds included a severely fractured humerus of the left arm, shrapnel wounds to and embedded in his left shoulder, and he was suffering from the effects of Mustard Gas poisoning. On 28 May Sgt. Paul was evacuated to the Connaught Hospital, Aldershot England for specialist treatment. Sgt. Paul remained at Connaught for six weeks to stabilise his injuries before being moved to the Military Hospital at Weybridge for a further eight weeks during which time the shrapnel was extracted from his arm and shoulder and his rehabilitation commenced. After two weeks in the Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Monks Horton – a total of 95 days in hospital – Sgt. Paul was medically re-assessed on 16 Sep for his fitness to return to the front. The result was: “Nerves unstable (nervous shock), short of breath, some loss of muscle power in left arm and hand, marked tremor on extension, heart action fair, headaches frequent.”
It was recommended Sgt. Paul when fit enough for duty, he remain in England and serve on in a ‘home service’ capacity until the end of the war. This however was overturned on 20 Sep 1915 to a recommendation for: “Return to Canada for Discharge”. Sgt. Paul returned to Canada on the SS Corsican on 25 October 1915 and was transferred from the CEF to the Canadian Cavalry’s Discharge Depot in Quebec on 02 Oct 1915. Gerald was temporarily released from the LdSH (RC) as being “Medically Unfit” on 26 Jan 1916 and was to undergo further post war treatment and rehabilitation of his wounds.
Gerald had indicated on his enlistment application his proposed post war occupation would be that of “Rancher”. A Regiment colleague, Major Michael Sims, would vouch for him and help him to get work on a farm in Winnipeg in Michael’s home province of Manitoba. Once Gerald’s medical treatment was concluded and the strength returned to his hand and shoulder he went to Winnipeg to stay with his army friend, taking the opportunity to learn various essential farming skills. He also undertook a course of occupational training sponsored by the army as part of a veteran’s rehabilitation program. Gerald attended a course in animal husbandry at the Sycamore Sheep Feeding Yards which was just across the Canada-US border in Sycamore, Illinois. By Jul 1917 he had completed the husbandry training and that same month returned to the Canadian Cavalry Discharge Depot in Quebec to obtain his final clearance and discharged from the Regiment.
Awards: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-18, Victory Medal; Valcartier Camp Mobilization Medal 1914
Length of Service: 1 year 64 days (24 Aug 1914 – 27 Oct 1915)
** Gerald Paul’s name is recorded on Wanganui Collegiate School’s Roll of Honour for his service with the NZMR in the Boer War service.
Two of Gerald’s three brothers served with the NZEF in WW1, whilst a nephew (only son of his 3rd brother Ronald) served during WW2.
- 3/1350 Staff Sergeant Stanley Drynan PAUL – a chemist from Blenheim, enlisted as a Sergeant into the NZ Medical Corps and assigned to the staff of HMNZHS #2 – NZ Hospital Ship Marama. Stanley completed the 1st (Sgt), 5th & 7th (SSgt) Charters (voyages) with HS #2. For his service he was awarded; 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 914-18 and Victory Medal. SSgt. Paul opened a pharmacy in Wellington after the war. A lifelong bachelor, he died in July 1944 whilst on holiday in Sydney, Australia.
- 10/2274 2 Lieutenant Sydney Victor PAUL (2 files) – was single and living at home with his mother Alice Paul whilst managing the Egmont Brewery & Aerated Waters Factory after his father’s death in 1909. Sydney was called up for service in Nov 1914 and joined the 5th Reinforcements of the Wellington Infantry Regiment in Jan 1915. Promoted to Corporal then Sergeant, Sydney Paul was commissioned in the field as a 2nd Lieutenant, in September 1917. After partial recovery from the effects of severe ‘shell shock’ that resulted from an extended period of bombardment, 2Lt. Paul was subsequently Killed In Action during the Battle of Passchendaele at Ypres, Belgium on 23 Oct 1917. 2Lt. Paul was awarded; 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. A Memorial Plaque and Scroll was also sent to his mother. # Sydney Paul’s sacrifice is recorded on the Memorial Gates of his old school, New Plymouth Boys’ High School.
- Third brother Ronald Cassells Paul, a merchant and hairdresser of Auckland, was not required to serve. He married Gwendoline CASEY; their daughter Margaurite Alice Marie Paul died at 3 years of age; only son Sidney served during WW2. Ron Paul died in 1934. 259352 Sergeant Sidney Maurice James Paul, an accountant (and later bookseller) served in Italy with 3rd Divisional Signals Brigade, 2 NZEF from 1943-45; he returned safely and married Moira Ellen YOCKNEY in 1956. No family.
During Gerald Paul’s occupational training in Illinois, at some point whilst visiting Chicago Gerald met divorcee Tina “Pearl” WHITE (known as Pearl WHITE, formerly CROWELL) from Kansas, Missouri. Gerald (37) and Pearl (34) married after Gerald had discharged from the army in 1917 and together they returned to Winnipeg and farm work. By 1927 they had purchased their own farmland in Polson, Montana where Gerald and Pearl spent the rest of their lives breeding and raising sheep.
Pearl Paul had two children by her former husband Addison Jeremiah CROWELL – Addison Perry (1903) and Marjorie Suzanne (1905). Marjorie had married a Leslie BEAN and in 1920 a son, also ‘Leslie’ was born. The marriage was short lived and Marjorie subsequently studied to be a nursing, training in Chicago, Illinois. In order to do this she chose to put young Leslie into an orphanage, however the boy kept running away and so was taken into care by his grandparents, Pearl and Gerald Paul. Pearl and ‘Jerry’ (as Gerald was then known) were by then farming the property in Polson, Montana. Marjorie reverted to her maiden name of Crowell and re-married, Robert Kenneth ‘Kenny’ GREGG in 1927. Her mother Pearl however believed it would be better for five year old Leslie to remain with them. Jerry decided that if the boy was to stay with he and Pearl, then he was to be adopted as their own, and so named after him. Henceforth ‘Leslie Bean/Crowell/Gregg’ became Jerry (Jnr) Conrad Paul. Jerry and Pearl Paul did not have any biological children of their own and it is unknown if Jerry Conrad’s adoption was ever formalised.
Jerry C. Paul grew up in Polson, graduated from Polson High School and in due course married Edith Louise LUNGREN. They moved to Oakland California for Jerry’s training where he graduated from the Boeing School of Aeronautics with licenses for aircraft and engine maintenance.
The WW2 “Draft” saw 23 year old Jerry called up for service into the US Army Air Force on 23 March 1943. As a result of his civil aircraft engineering training 39042803 Private Jerry Conrad Paul was employed in aircraft maintenance for the duration of his military service. Jerry discharged with the rank of Sergeant in mid 1946 and he and Edith returned to Polson where and bought a wardrobe cleaning business and raised a family of two children – Robin Stanley PAUL (1945-1969) and Susan Pauline HOLMES (1947 – current). Susan and Michael Holmes have four adult children.
Gerald (Jerry) Adam Paul and Pearl both lived out their lives in the Lake County of Montana. Tina “Pearl” Paul passed away on 25 April 1951 aged 68, and Gerald Adam Paul on 01 Sep 1968, aged 87. As far as is known Gerald Paul never returned to New Zealand.
And what of Gerald Paul’s first wife, Annie Paul, back in New Plymouth? As indicated above the reasons for their permanent parting are unknown. Whether Gerald was intending to have Annie join him once established in England or Canada, or whether something else had happened since their marriage that caused Gerald to leave is unknown. Annie Paul however remained in New Plymouth, later declaring her status as “widow”. She remained at 296 Devon Street in New Plymouth for the remainder of her life, never re-marrying, until she died in the care of her Harper relatives at Waitara, Taranaki in 1973, aged 66 years.
Tracing Gerald Paul’s descendants
Tracing Gerald Adam Paul’s history in New Zealand was not difficult since he was only in the public and military records for a short period of time. However trying to reconstruct his life post his Boer War service has been very time consuming as records of him are so scarce, possibly due to travel.
A reply to one of the queries I had placed with the author of a family tree on Ancestry that showed ‘Pearl WHITE’ as a family connection, was in the form of an apology in that apparently the author had made an error by including Pearl WHITE – she should not have been in their tree! – no relation at all apparently? However, in the process of discovering this error the tree’s author, “Doty of New York”, had stumbled on the 2004 obituary of Jerry Conrad Paul in a Montana newspaper, and sent it to me. The obituary proved to be an unexpected bonanza of Paul family information. It detailed each family member, dates, associations and towns of residence to the extent I was able to confirm that I definitely had the correct descendant family of Gerald Paul. USA phone books provided confirmation location and contact numbers of some of Jerry and Edith Paul’s children listed in the obituary with whom I was able to make email contact after locating two of them on Facebook. This then put me contact with their mother, Jerry Conrad’s daughter, Suzanne Pauline HOLMES. A late email from another Ancestry tree author, Tony B. of Lakewood Colorado, whose extended family contained Jerry Conrad Paul, had unbeknown to me, also passed on my query directly to Jerry’s daughter Sue Holmes.
Sue Holmes and I corresponded briefly but since her father (Jerry Conrad) had been adopted, she knew very little of her grandfather’s background or life before his adoption. Sue only ever remembered meeting her grandfather Gerald as a very young girl so really could add little information to that I already had. Not an ideal family link for the return of medals but the only potential recipient I had at that time.
Who should have the medals ?
Having collected all relevant genealogical information (or so I thought) regarding Gerald Paul and his family in NZ (in itself highly convoluted and confusing) and Canada, I then had to make a rather difficult decision as to whom the medals would go to – either a descendant of any of his brothers who had survived, or the descendants of his adopted son, the late Jerry Conrad Paul – not an ideal choice but apparently the only choices I had.
Regrettably Gerald’s brothers were relatively easy to rule out – Stanley had remained single, Sydney died in the Battle of Passchendaele, and Ronald and Gwendoline Paul’s only surviving son, Sidney Maurice James Paul although married (Moira Ellen YOCKNEY) did not have children.
I was about to rule in favour of Jerry Conrad Paul’s daughter Sue Holmes when it suddenly dawned on me that whilst I had spent a good deal of time looking for descendant options the Paul males left me, I had completely overlooked the existence of Gerald Paul’s older sister Ida Grace PAUL. Ida would be my last opportunity for a potential direct descendant …. and what a fascinating journey of revelations it was!
IDA GRACE PAUL
Ida Grace Paul was the first born child of James and Alice, in New Plymouth 1881. Ida had worked at home and in the brewery during her formative years until meeting a Scottish doctor who had arrived in New Plymouth in 1903.
James Freeborn BENNETT was the son of William and Annie Bennett (nee FREEBORN) of “Lilybank House” Linlithgowshire, West Lothian, Scotland. Dr. Bennett was born in Glasgow in 1879, educated at the High School and University of Glasgow graduating with commendation and distinction in 1899. Prior to his arrival in New Zealand Dr. Bennett had completed his post graduate training as a Surgeon, F.H.C.S.(Edn). Dr. Bennett was then appointed assistant dispensary surgeon to a large children’s hospital, and subsequently spent a few months in Burma. He was for a year in South Africa during the late Anglo-Boer war before returning to England, and shortly afterwards came to New Zealand.
For two years he held a private practice in New Plymouth, where, for about ten months he was assistant surgeon to the public hospital. In 1905 Dr. James F. Bennett M.B., Ch.B had also married – every man’s dream, the daughter of a brewery owner – Ida Grace PAUL.
Ida’s father died in 1909 after which the Bennetts relocated to Blenheim where Dr. Bennett had been appointed Medical Officer for the Wairau Hospital in 1910. He also ran a successful private practice there for many years. Ida’s brother Stanley Paul later established his dispensary in Blenheim, with Ida acting as his assistant. The Bennetts had two children – a daughter, Pauline Alice Grace (‘Susie’) Bennett in 1905 in New Plymouth, and a son, Ronald James (‘Ben’) Bennett at Blenheim in 1909.
Whilst in Blenheim Dr. Bennett had also become an accomplished private pilot with the Marlborough Aero Club at the Omaka aerodrome and was also made Honorary Surgeon to the Club. Dr. Bennett had also taught his daughter Susie to fly until she was a competent solo pilot and gained a licence. At the age of 54 Ida Bennett died suddenly on 2 Feb 1936 and her husband James, severely shaken by her untimely passing, himself died just 10 days later on 12th, aged 57 years. Ida and James were buried at Omaka Cemetery, Blenheim – in site of the aerodrome.
The PAUL & BENNETT connection in England
‘Ben’ Bennett had been a boarder at Nelson College where he gained his education until eligible to for entry into Cambridge University in 1925. After graduating, Ben joined the RAF in 1930 as a trainee pilot, gained his ‘Wings’ and became a very experienced pilot. By WW2 Ben had been promoted to Squadron Leader and was fulfilling a non-flying appointment as an Armament Officer with No. 202 (Operations) Group, formerly RAF Egypt Group, in North Africa. On 12 April 1941, 29199 Squadron Leader R. J. Bennett was in a vehicle on the road between Tobruk and El Adem when he was killed by shell fire during the German assault on Tobruk. An Australian patrol discovered his body six days later on the night of 18/19 April, and he was subsequently buried in the Tobruk War Cemetery, Al Butnan, Lybia – ‘Ben’ Bennett was 32 years of age.
Ben’s sister, Pauline ‘Susie’ Bennett, had been educated at St Mary’s in Blenheim. When her education had been completed Susie followed her brother to England where she continued with her flying activities, gaining her UK Pilot’s Licence registration at the Hampshire Aero Club, later qualifying as the first female to gain a commercial pilot’s licence.
Susie Bennett had been introduced to RAF pilot, Flying Officer Kenneth Duke KNOCKER in the early 1930s, and in July 1934, they married at Barraekpore in Bengal, India where Kenneth was then serving with the RAF. The following year their first son Paul Bennett Knocker was born. Susie and 5 month old Paul returned to the UK in 1936 where she was able to take up flying again. The Knocker’s second son Kenneth Christopher was born in Westminster in 1937, later married, and passed away in 1991 aged 54 years.
Susie’s husband, the then Wing Commander Ken Knocker was immersed in WW2 flying operations with 214 Squadron, No. 3 Group, Bomber Command. On the night of 2/3 July 1942 whilst piloting a Sterling bomber over Groningen, Holland his aircraft was shot down by a German night-fighter; all eight crew members perished and were buried in Holland. Susie Knocker was re-married in 1954 to a New Zealander, Jack Mulcock (‘Buck’) BUCKERIDGE of Christchurch. Unfortunately Jack died just eight years later in 1962 leaving Susie a widow until her death 26 years later.
Gerald Paul’s medals ?
Having been at the point of sending Gerald Paul’s medals to Canada to his nearest descendant, albeit grand-daughter Susan Holmes , daughter of his adopted son Jerry, the revelations that followed my unravelling of Gerald’s sister Ida Alice (Paul) Bennett and husband James Bennett, her children Ronald (‘Ben’) and Pauline (‘Susie’), clarified the destination of the medals.
The first generation of direct descendants from Ida & James Bennett were their children, Susie Knocker and Ben Bennett. Ben had been a bachelor when he was killed in North Africa in 1942, leaving only his sister Susie as the next descendant. Both Susie (Pauline) and Kenneth Knocker had long since passed away leaving their family of two sons, Paul Bennett and Kenneth Christopher, as the last generation of eligible direct descendants. I discovered that Christopher Knocker, Paul’s younger brother, died in 1991 leaving Paul Bennett Knocker as the sole remaining direct descendant of the Paul family and therefore the entitled recipient of Gerald’s medals.
I again started with Facebook to try and trace Paul Bennett Knocker, a former Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Reserve (RNR). Paul and his wife Jenny had since retired to the Isle of Wight. I could not find Paul on FB however of their three adult children – Juliet, Richard and Simon, I did mange to locate both the brothers – Richard Kenneth Knocker (ex-RAF war veteran and current commercial helo pilot) and his brother, Simon Paul Knocker (former Capt. the ‘Green Howards’ and currently a company director). It was Richard with whom I made first contact and he linked me with his father. Paul Knocker (81) and I have since corresponded by email and able to confirm his position in the maternal lineage of the descendants of James and Alice Paul, late of New Plymouth, New Zealand – Paul Knocker is the grand nephew of Gerald Adam Paul.
Kenneth Duke Knocker was the son of Elizabeth (ka “Elsie”) Blackall SHAPTER (1884-1978) and Leslie Duke KNOCKER (1875-1921). They had married in 1906 after Elsie had completed her nurse’s training at the Children’s Hip Hospital at Sevenoaks. Kenneth was born a year later however the marriage failed and by 1912 Elsie and Leslie Knocker had divorced. Life from this point would take on a life of its own as Elsie began midwife training at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital. Being a nurse, a divorcee and young mother did not slow Elsie down. She was an ardent amateur motorbike enthusiast and racer. Elsie possessed a number of motorbikes, all of which she maintained herself, including a Scott, a Douglas solo, and a Chater-Lea with a sidecar which would travel with her to the Western Front.
When war was declared in 1914, Elsie wrote to her friend and fellow motorcycle fanatic, Mairi Chisholm suggesting they go to London to become dispatch riders for the Women’s Emergency Corps. When Chisholm was chosen to join Hector Munro’s Flying Ambulance Corps she was able to convince Munro to accept Knocker as well seeing as she had some training as a nurse, was an excellent mechanic and chauffer, and spoke both French and German.
Together the women travelled to Flanders and for the next two years, being affiliated to the Belgian Red Cross, provided nursing care and comfort to the sick and wounded at the Belgian front, driving ambulances and acting as stretcher bearers, always in danger and often under fire. They were largely funded privately from donations, fund-raising drives and from within their own means. After disassociating from the Belgian Red Cross the two struck out on their own to provide care much closer to the front. Elsie and Mairi set about establishing their own aid post in the cellar of a bombed out Belgian house in Pervyse, just 100 meters from the trenches where they remaining dispensing their services for two and a half years – caring for the wounded soldiers, civilians and animals – any living thing that was in need. They were eventually officially seconded to the local Belgian garrison so they would no longer have to rely on private fund raising and private finance to support their work.
In January 1915, Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm were rewarded for their courageous work on the Belgian front lines when they were both decorated by King Albert I if Belgium with the Order of Leopold II, Knights Cross (with Palm).
During her service Elsie Knocker had caught the eye of a young Belgian Flying Corps pilot and nobleman, Harold, Baron de T’SERCLAES de RATTENDAEL (1889-1952) with the result they married the same year, Elsie known as Elizabeth, Baroness de T’Serclaes. Alas it was not to last – the Baron, a staunch Catholic, had discovered Elsie was a divorcee (she said she had been widowed), a situation the Church and the Baron found intolerable. The marriage ended in 1919 however as part of the settlement, Elsie was permitted to retain her title (in name only), being known as Elizabeth BLACKALL, the Baroness de T’SERCLAES.
By the end of the war Elsie and Mairi, universally known as “The Madonnas of Pervyse”, had become the most photographed women of the war. Both had been credited with saving the lives of thousands of soldiers on the Western Front in Belgium and for this they were both decorated for bravery in the field with the Military Medal (MM) and also made Officers of the Order of St John (OStJ). The war for these ladies ended on 17 March 1918 after an explosion filled their aid post with arsenic gas, which killed one of their assistants and Elsie’s constant companion, a terrier she named ‘SHOT’. They had to return to England to recover.
Elsie’s continued her military service during WW2 when she joined RAF becoming a senior officer in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) working with Fighter Command, and twice Mentioned in Dispatches for her work. After her son Wg Cdr Kenneth Knocker was killed in July 1942, Squadron Officer Elizabeth BLACKALL (Baroness de T’SERCLAES) OStJ, MM, MiD** left the RAF. After the war she busied herself raising funds for the RAF Association and the Benevolent Fund, and was devoted to her pet dogs. The Baroness died on 26 April 1978 aged 93. Elsie’s WW1 friend and colleague Mairi Chisholm from Nairn Scotland, died on 22 August 1981 aged 85.
** A commemorative statue of these two WW1 heroines was recently unveiled in Ypres, Belgium. The project was conceived and executed by Diane Atkinson, an English author, secondary school history teacher, and more recently lecturer and curator at the Museum of London, specialising in women’s history. Diane has written a fascinating book about these two intrepid ladies which I commend to you: “Elsie and Mairi Go to War: Two Extraordinary Women on the Western Front”
You can read more about Diane’s works and the statue project here: www.dianeatkinson.co.uk.
Where have the medals been ?
With all medals that surface in families possessions that do not belong to any known family member there is always the one burning question – ‘how did they ended up with the medals named to someone they have never head of ‘? Some times there are answers, often there is not – with Gerald Paul’s medals however I was able to find that connection.
After Mike F. had sent me the medals I looked for any possible family link. After fleshing out the family trees of the Pauls and others directly related, there was nothing apparent. I went back to Mike and pressed for more clarification. It was actually Mike’s wife Trish who was the owner of the medals having inherited them from an aunt, Mary (Mollie) Jennings GARDINER, nee FRISBY, the sister of Trish’s late mother Patricia Marie ROBSON. To try and keep this simple I will start with Gerald Paul to give you some idea of how difficult it can be to trace the history of medal ownership – down to Trish:
Gerald Paul sent/or had his WW1 medals sent, to his mother Alice Paul in New Plymouth at some point after WW1. Most WW1 medals were issued between 1919 and 1924.
Before or after Alice Paul died in 1931 Gerald’s medals passed to his his brother Ronald who at time was a merchant in New Plymouth. Ronald Cassells Paul died in 1934 and it is assumed that his wife Gwendoline Theresa Rose, nee CASEY, had retained the medals. As all of Gerald’s brothers had died – Sydney Victor at Passchedaele 1918, Ronald Cassells 1934, and Stanley Drynan, the Blenheim chemist in 1944 (and sister Ida Bennett, nee Paul, had emigrated to England), Gwendoline Paul passed the medals to their only son Sidney Maurice Paul who was also a WW2 veteran. Sid was married late in life to Moira Ellen YOCKNEY but they had no children. Sid died in 2008 and Moira in 2014 thereby ending the Paul family’s existence in New Zealand.
Moira Paul’s sole surviving sibling, brother Bryan Rex YOCKNEY, administered his sister’s estate and thus was the next custodian of Gerald Paul’s medals. Bryan Yockney married Ann Marie Robson GARDINER (dau of Jim and Mollie Gardiner, the sister of Trish’s mother Patricia Marie ROBSON). In due course before her death, Ann Marie passed the medals on to her niece, Trish F., daughter of Patricia Marie, and Mike’s wife.
This was a relatively easy trail of medal ownership – most are far more complex and not worth the effort required.
Gerald Paul’s WW1 medals have now been safely delivered into the hands of his grand nephew, Paul Bennett Knocker on the Isle of Wight. With a long tradition of military service running through the interconnected families of Paul, Bennett and Knocker, I have every confidence that the medals of 2588 Lt. Gerald Adam Paul, late Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) will be a valuable addition to the family history and remain with his direct descendants for generations to come.
The whereabouts of Sgt. & Lt. G. A. Paul’s medal for his Boer War service (QSA) is unknown. If you can provide any information regarding this please contact MRNZ.
Thanks to Mike for sending MRNZ this project – it certainly did not disappoint and challenged our research capabilities to the max. Thanks also to Tony B. of Lakewood, ‘Doty’ of New York, and Andrea R. in the UK for their valuable contributions which have assisted me to resolve this case and revive the memory of a long forgotten New Zealander and soldier from one of New Plymouth’s notable early settler families.
Thanks to Phil Beattie (“Onward” Project) for the correction re: medal entitlement – Jun 2018.