21 Apr 2015

Links to the front line

6:44 am on 21 April 2015

On Anzac Day, 2000 New Zealanders will stand on the same soil where even more of the country's soldiers fell at Gallipoli.

The War to End All Wars: Our Anzac 2015 Interactive

They were picked in a ballot. Among them will be three women from Auckland - Rosemary Steane, her sister Glenys Muir and Ms Muir's daughter Colette Muir.

Several of their relatives were involved in the First World War on the front line and elsewhere.

They're going to remember two in particular: Edward (Ted) Gasparich - grandfather to Rosemary and Glenys - and his older brother Joe Gasparich.

Radio New Zealand is following them on their journey in a multi-part video series. This is part two.

Follow this link for part one

Ted and Joe Gasparich both survived the First World War and went on to live long lives.

"My great uncle was Joe Gasparich, and he is the person in our family where there is more information," Rosemary Steane said.

"He was one of the first in Gallipoli and one of the very last to leave."

Glenys Muir said Joe's brother, her grandfather, arrived later in August and came back as a "very loving, devoted and very gentle-natured man".

Ted Gasparich, pictured in his uniform.

Ted Gasparich, pictured in his uniform. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Even though the family has more information about Joe Gasparich's time at war, it is his younger brother Ted they have often thought more about, because of how close they were to him.

Ted Gasparich's wallet, slashed by shrapnel.

Ted Gasparich's wallet, slashed by shrapnel. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

"It's been fabulous to look at what we believed were our family's connections - to be able to clarify them, to actually correct some of our misunderstandings," she said.

"It's been a lovely journey already."

During their interview, the family proudly display some of items that came home from the war.

There is a prayer book given to Ted Gasparich before he left for Gallipoli, that then went with him to France, before making it back to New Zealand.

There are his medals, which Glenys said he proudly wore every Anzac Day morning.

The family's most treasured possession is a brown wallet which still shows the scars of being sliced by shrapnel while it was in his pocket.

Ted Gasparich's medals.

Ted Gasparich's medals. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

There is also an on-ship newspaper Mr Gasparich kept in his wallet through the whole of the war, and which the family is giving to Auckland Museum.

An emotional journey

Glenys Muir's daughter, Colette, will be joining her at Gallipoli and said Anzac Day was always very significant while she was growing up.

Colette Muir.

Colette Muir. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

"The dawn parade, that was the one thing in our family that we absolutely went to every year. I went with my grandfather, and my grandfather was going in memory of his father.

"We went every Anzac Day, and if we weren't in New Zealand, we'd find a place to go or a place to be. You'd always know where you were for Anzac Day and make sure you could go to a service."

One of Colette's most pressing tasks at Gallipoli will be to try to find a plaque, with words from Joe Gasparich - something she "desperately" wants to stand in front of and read.

"I believe his words were 'this is a sheer waste of good men'. That probably sums the whole thing up really and I think it's really special Uncle Joe's words are on one of the memorials."

After the dawn service, she will go to Chunuk Bair where she plans to lay a wreath which she has been making on behalf of her family.

Thanks to Rosemary Steane, Glenys Muir, Colette Muir, Radio New Zealand producer Kim Griggs, Radio New Zealand head librarian Emma Hart, Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.