About

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Helen & John

This blog is about our trip to Turkey  in June and July this year ( 2013). As usual we’ll be recording our experiences and responses to the people, the food and the culture. But this time our travels also have another more serious side. We are going to take the opportunity to visit some of the places where Helen’s grandfather, Maurice Delpratt, was held for over three years as a prisoner during the First World War. He returned to Australia in 1919, married Mary Esther Davies and had three daughters, Barbara, Catherine (Helen’s mother) and Janet (who is travelling with us). He died in 1957, only a few months after Helen was born.

Jan

Janet

The catalyst for this, is  reading for the first time the old letters that Maurice wrote from the prison camps. These have been kept by the family and recently were presented to the Queensland State Library. There are over 200 letters and they paint a poignant picture of a modest and decent man surviving the daily hardships of a prison camp in the remote mountains of Central Turkey.

pic envelope POW croissant rougeJohn’s grandfather, Ernest Strambini, also fought at Gallipoli. It turns out that our grandfathers, both from Queensland units, were there around the same time and probably dug in on the Gallipoli Peninsula not too far from each other. We hope to learn more about this from Australian military historian Bill Sellars who lives in Eceabat on the peninsula. Bill has very kindly offered to show us around the Gallipoli battlefields and point out where our grandfathers saw action, and in Maurice’s case, where he was captured.

2 responses to “About

  1. Jacqueline van den Berg

    Hello! It is so nice to read your journey! I did almost the same journey. Only hadjikiri I missed. I did the whole journey by train with a ladyfriend. It was2012. We had a lot of laughs with the railwaypeople specially in Nusaybin when we started. We found also a POW hospital in Adana. It stil is there I hope. We had a meal in Belemedik station with the brother of a german Turk who brought us to the camp. We also saw the graves of the Germans. We had a talk with a Mongolian looking woman who lived in the camp. Her grandfather worked at the railway. We thought he must have been an Russian POW. He stayed there after the war and she is still living overthere.
    I have also a lot of pictures, but I am trying to get old pictures of the railway for my book about my grandfather. He also was at Gallipoli he was English 7 th N.Staffordshire Regiment. Please let me hear something! Maybe you knoew were I can get pictures of that time? I am Dutch but my mother is English therefor a English grandfather. My book will be issued in spring 2015. My grandfather was captured in Mesopotamia. Terrible time! He returned one of the few.
    Bye hope to hear from you
    Jacqueline van den berg
    Javdbadam@gmail.com
    Amsterdam

    • Hi Jacqueline. How lovely to hear from you, and how interesting that we were both following the history of our grandfathers in the mountains of Turkey in WWI! What was your grandfather’s name? There are many letters from my grandfather from the POW camp and sometimes he mentioned other prisoners arriving and departing. I can have a look and see if he met your grandfather.
      Kind regards
      Helen

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