Not Forgotten

I haven’t been able to keep up with all the photos we’ve taken this year so I’ve got an ‘archive’. I took this photo of young pine trees at Queens Park in Invercargill on 24 February and it seems the best fit for my post today, beautiful fresh young trees with lots of life in them, you could say they have a bright future, but growing in the midst of light and shadow. Southland, New Zealand.


When my mum was a girl her dearly loved father died when she was four. Her mother died when she was seven. I remember her speaking with great affection of her older brother named John. She also had younger sisters/half-sisters – her mother had married again before her death. I knew her sisters a little bit, one married my dad’s twin brother. After their mother died the children got separated and stayed with various relatives or were fostered out, quite a saga and it was a very fraught time for them as they grew up.

I knew that her brother John had died at sea in WW2 and I thought he’d been on a ship called the Leander. On Anzac Day someone tweeted a photo of an ancestor who’d been on that ship and it spurred me to do an online search for mum’s brother. It turned out that her brother had actually been on HMS Neptune (a Leander Class Cruiser) that was to stand in for the Leander. The HMS Neptune hit a minefield in the sea near Tripoli and there was only one survivor (all 150 NZers died, 764 deaths in total). John’s military rank at the time he died was Leading Seaman.

My uncle died at the young age of 20 years, December 1941



Portrait of Able Seaman John Charles Wardle, Auckland Weekly News, 4 February 1942. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19420204-25-19. Image has no known copyright restrictions.

The story of what happened to HMS Neptune is in these Biographical Notes

Posted by Liz; Exploring Colour (2020)

19 thoughts on “Not Forgotten

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  1. How nice that you found this photo of your handsome Uncle, Liz. There was so much tragedy during the war and sad that your mother lost so many of her beloved family. There is a peace in the photograph of the pines that is fitting for accompanying the shot of Uncle John.

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  2. A beautiful photo and an equally beautiful tribute to the uncle you were never able to meet. Some years ago following the death of someone very dear to me, I was sent a card that I framed. It has a hand drawn ink picture with these hand printed words beneath : “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal. – Inscribed on a headstone in Ireland.” If one believes as do I, that a person is not completely lost in death as long as their memory is kept alive in us, your mother and uncle live on in the here and now within your heart. Thank-you!

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  3. Very sad and tragic, Liz. Yet your photo is so full of light and freshness … pushing back the shadows and life new growing strong … yes of hope. Beautiful image and spirtitually uplifting especially during these times now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your beautiful response Peter. I smile as I read it and outside the bright sunshine is welcome after a rainy day yesterday; today is our first day at Level 3 lockdown – a slight relaxing of the rules – enabling us to ‘loosen the collar’ just a little, encouraging greater hope in the heart.


  4. Such an interesting post, Liz! I’ve spent many years researching my family’s history so I know how exciting it can be to discover facts like these. I had a great-uncle who we originally thought had been on the ‘Black Prince’ when it was sunk at the Battle of Jutland during WWI. It turned out that he was actually on the ‘Indefatigable’, unfortunately with the same results.

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  5. I read the wartime story, horrific losses. Your uncle looks like a happy-go-lucky guy in his photo, with the jaunty cap, I’m sure he was proud to serve on such a ship, trading blows with the Italian navy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is sad Kay but I was especially pleased to find the photo. I see a sweet open face like my mum and I believe they had a close bond. I found there’s an ‘online cenotaph’ and it has his name so on Anzac Day I ‘virtually’ laid a poppy against his name and left a message about how she loved him. It felt special to be able to do that.

      Liked by 2 people

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