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A Long Way to Find a Wife

A Long Way to Find a Wife

Henry Harrison (Harry) Bennett was the 6th of 12 children, born into a West Coast mining family of Scottish descent. He enlisted at Westport on 9 February 1916 at the age of 21 and embarked aboard the Tofua for Devonport, England 15 weeks later. Originally with the 13th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Battalion C Company, he was posted to the 4th Machine Gun Corps in early 1917 and embarked for France in May 1917.

In June 1917 Harry was awarded seven days of Field Punishment no.2 and deprived of seven days pay for “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline in that he used insolent language to an NCO”. After 7 months on the Western Front he was admitted to hospital with a severe rectal abscess. While convalescing in the UK he was moved to Glasgow where he met and subsequently married his wife, Helen Howie Bennett. Their first daughter was born in Scotland, and the family embarked for NZ in September 1919 on the SS Paparoa with their 5 month old daughter.

They settled back at Seddonville, but Harry never fully recovered from his wartime illness, and died aged 30 in 1925 of tuberculosis of the spine. Harry’s name is recorded on the Roll of Honour for World War I at both the Westport and Seddonville War Memorials.

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