Memories of Southland servicemen in World War I in a book

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Farmer and historian Oreti Bryce Horrell checks a proof of his book, Southland Sacrifice, which contains details of Southland military personnel who died during the First World War.

Kavinda Herath/Stuff

Farmer and historian Oreti Bryce Horrell checks a proof of his book, Southland Sacrifice, which contains details of Southland military personnel who died during the First World War.

A book about Southland’s service men and women who died in the First World War and later named on memorials across the province will soon be published.

Author Bryce Horrell said the book, Southern Sacrificehad been printed and copies would hopefully be bound in Auckland this month.

“I will be really disappointed if they are not here before Anzac Day.”

The 390-page book contains information on 1,407 servicemen from Southland, including a section containing 86 whose names do not appear on any of the province’s memorials. The names of servicemen and women are inscribed on 173 war memorials in Southland.

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About 6,000 Southlanders went to World War I, said Horrell, of Oreti.

Most of the 1407 servicemen and women in the book have a photo in their profile that also includes their military service, occupation before going to war, relatives, where they are buried, and the name of the memorial they are listed on.

Horrell, 50, began his research 34 years ago during a school project on the names of the war memorial in Oreti Plains Hall.

“My supervising professor suggested it was pointless because no one would be interested and the research itself would be pointless,” Horrell said.

“Although I was told it was a waste of time, I continued and researched the names. Over the years I continued to search for names on memorials and collected all the information when I found it.

Six or seven years ago, Horrell decided to put the information into a book.

War memorials conservator Ann Robbie, Auckland military historian Phil Beattie and Queensland’s Matt Pomeroy assisted Horrell with his research and information.

A farmer, Horrell visited libraries across the country as part of his research, as well as a variety of other places, including community halls, rugby clubs, lodges and museums.

He found photos of some servicemen and women through old copies of newspapers online or in print, in publications issued by clubs and groups, and photos provided by relatives.

At no time did Horrell think of removing the pin from the book.

“You would have enthusiastic phases, you would get stuck and do heaps [of research],” he said.

“Then you take care of something else, or you have a spunk and you put it aside for a while, and then you have another shine.”

Horrell received 25 orders for the book.

“I’m very happy with how it went,” he said.

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