Including the four serving or former soldiers, there were 31 passengers aboard the Wimmera on her final voyage who were travelling alone – by far the largest cohort of travelers.
William Liddle, otherwise known as Will Beresford, “the popular baritone”, was another performer aboard, who was leaving for Sydney at the conclusion of his engagement at the King’s Theatre, Auckland. For eight months he had been trying to persuade the military authorities of the propriety of his claim to travel, and had finally been successful.
Two of the older passengers booked on board the Wimmera on this trip were Mrs Elizabeth Gould who had celebrated her 70th birthday a month earlier and Englishman “Colonel” Henry Graham, aged about 67.
Elizabeth Gould was travelling alone and was on a holiday to visit relatives in Australia. The war had already touched her through the death of her 28-year old son, Alfred, a Private in the 1st Battalion, Auckland Regiment, NZEF, who was killed in France the previous October.
Englishman, Henry Graham, was continuing a journey which had begun from his home in London. Travelling first to North America he crossed the continent to Vancouver where he had joined then joined the Niagara reaching Auckland on… A brief stay in Auckland then saw him ticketed for the Auckland to Sydney leg by the Wimmera.
Frederick William Mole, of Brisbane, a long serving Queensland public servant and now the State’s deputy public curator, had caught the train from Wellington to Auckland in order to join the Wimmera and return home after a holiday. His own son, Cyril Bayard Mole, was then serving as a Sergeant in the 11th Bde HQ AIF in Europe and, no doubt, on his mind…
Jessie Kenman, another native of Queensland, but a long-term resident of Auckland, also had a son in the AIF. John Cruice Kenman, who was born to an unwed Jessie in Brisbane in 1898, had enlisted during the previous November and embarked for Egypt aboard the Ormonde from Sydney in early March but had been admitted to hospital in Suez with influenza. Two of her younger brothers also enlisted in the AIF – Charles, in 1915, and Robert William Kenman, in 1917. Whilst son John and brother Robert returned in 1919, Charles was reported missing in France in July 1916 – to be later recorded as Killed in Action.
Jessie was the proprietor of Waikato House, a boarding house located at 79 Shortland street in Auckland.
© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021