Stevenage woman makes contact with descendants of First World War New Zealand soldier

PUBLISHED: 12:02 30 December 2018

Sue Milliken with the wreath she laid at the Stevenage war memorial. Picture: Rosemarie Jenkins

Sue Milliken with the wreath she laid at the Stevenage war memorial. Picture: Rosemarie Jenkins

Archant

A Stevenage resident taking care of the grave of a First World War soldier from New Zealand who is buried in the town has managed to make contact with his descendants.

Sgt George Vivian Thomas Moore's grave. Picture: Rosemarie JenkinsSgt George Vivian Thomas Moore's grave. Picture: Rosemarie Jenkins

Back in May, the Comet covered the story of New Zealand Divisional Reserve Signal Company, who were based in Stevenage before heading to the Western Front.

Among them was Sgt George Moore who, upon returning from war, died from pneumonia at Hitchin Military Hospital on December 10, 1918, aged 41.

He was buried at St Nicholas Church in Stevenage, where his grave remains to this day.

His story inspired Sue Milliken, a fellow Kiwi who lives in Stevenage, to tend to his grave.

Sue Milliken at the grave of Sgt George Vivian Thomas Moore. Picture: Rosemarie JenkinsSue Milliken at the grave of Sgt George Vivian Thomas Moore. Picture: Rosemarie Jenkins

“When I learnt there was a New Zealand soldier buried in St Nicholas’ Churchyard, I really felt, as a fellow Kiwi, that I wanted to look after him and for him not to be alone on this side of the world,” she said.

“I also wanted to trace any descendants to let them know he was being cared for, so immediately started finding out as much as I could about Sgt Moore.”

After speaking to Rev Dave Brown of St Nicholas Church, who had contact details for Sgt Moore’s descendants, she was able to make contact with them.

“Within 24 hours of giving Rev Brown my email, I had a response from one of Sgt Moore’s great-nieces, Pat, in New Zealand. I was thrilled,” said Sue.

Sue Milliken on Remembrance Sunday. Picture: Rosemarie JenkinsSue Milliken on Remembrance Sunday. Picture: Rosemarie Jenkins

The two now communicate regularly – with Pat revealing that an album of 90 photos taken by Sgt Moore, as well as letters written by him to his mother, currently reside at the National Army Museum in Waiouru, New Zealand.

Thanks to her work in tracking down Sgt Moore’s relatives and taking care of his grave, Sue was asked to take part in the Royal British Legion’s Remembrance Sunday service in November.

She said: “I felt incredibly honoured to be asked to lay a wreath on behalf of New Zealand soldiers on Remembrance Sunday, and also to take part in the march.

“There was a tremendous turnout for the whole occasion.

Sue Milliken on Remembrance Sunday. Picture: Rosemarie JenkinsSue Milliken on Remembrance Sunday. Picture: Rosemarie Jenkins

“Becoming involved with Sgt Moore brought me into contact with the Royal British Legion, and has sparked a real interest in all our brave soldiers.

“It has been an amazing journey which I feel will continue.”

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