Obituary reveals Sussex connections

Bruce's great uncle George William Graham
Bruce's great uncle George William Graham

I have lived in New Zealand since 1966, having emigrated that year from Haslemere in Surrey, where I previously lived.

I travelled out as a passage worker – “One Bob a month that was my Pay!“ as the old sea shanty says – on board the good ship MV Wellington Star.

My wife, Rosemary, sailed a month earlier on the MV Rangitoto.

I had jobs in several trades in New Zealand, from carpenter and joiner to a child welfare officer, general labourer and tutor of maritime studies.

Since retiring in 2002, I have set about working on my family tree, which has proved to be a fascinating experience, and hopefully will be of interest to my four grandchildren.

My latest discovery is the obituary and photograph of my grandfather’s youngest brother George.

The obituary told me things I did not know previously: that he had a middle name (William); his exact birth date; the date and place and nature of his death; the fact he was a married man; and the details of his wife and marriage.

I discovered that the Military Medal was awarded to First World War soldiers, not Officers, for Bravery in the Field of Battle – George was awarded one.

I would have felt privileged to have been able to meet him.

Great uncle George was a joiner when he signed up in 1914, and I have three hand tools, bearing his name, stamped on the Boxwood handles, namely one 3/8ths-inch firmer chisel; one half-inch bevel edge chisel, and a 12-inch piercing saw.

These are antiques as they were in his tool kit some years before the date he enlisted.

George’s eldest of four brothers was my much loved granddad, Edgar Graham.

I recently completed his biography, complete with family photos and ship photos.

The title of the book is ‘Two World Wars in the Royal Navy, Edgar Graham’s Story’.

If any reader would like any information which I have unearthed about my branch of the clan Graham, whose origins are in the Border Country, or my late mother’s families, the Hopkins and the Daveys of South Wales, please email me at:

If anyone has any further information they can provide me, I would also be very interested to hear from them.

I would also consider emailing ‘Edgar’s Story’ to anyone with a genuine interest in the Royal Navy, First World War or Second World War.

Bruce Edwin Graham

New Zealand