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Poppies proliferating on our streets

Hastings is leading the charge nationwide in the drive to help ensure our military history is not forgotten.

At a ceremony this morning (December 16) the addition of nine poppies on street signs was celebrated. Poppy Places is a national project identifying the streets and land marks which have been named to recognise the contribution of New Zealand to international conflicts.

The nine new streets in the Mayfair suburb are: Jellicoe St, Beatty St and Beatty Pl, Hood St, Anson St, Cunningham Cres, Norfolk Cr, Sussex St and Haig St.

Eight of the streets are linked by a common maritime theme – all being named for admirals or battleships. About 7000 New Zealand officers and ratings served with the Royal Navy for varying periods during World War II, hence the naming of the streets and the addition of the poppies. The ninth, Haig St, is named for Field Marshall Douglas Haig, a New Zealander who became a key leader in the British and Commonwealth forces in World War I.

Friday’s commemoration, hosted by Hastings District Council and the RSA, brought the places in Hastings marked with a poppy to 18.

Children from Mayfair School attended, with four of them reading out the stories behind two of the names they had researched.

Poppy Places Trust representative Joe Bolton, based in Lower Hutt, said so far there were about 100 streets across New Zealand that had been researched and adorned with a poppy. “Hastings by far leads the project with the number of streets it has completed. We use Hastings District Council as an example to the rest of the country on how it can be done.”

He envisaged that there would be about 3000 streets named for returned service men and women and the vessels they had served on.

The plan is to add a QR code on the posts under the street sign so people can scan the code to get the story behind the name.

The names behind the new streets:

Jellicoe Street

Jellicoe Street was named for Sir John Rushworth Jellicoe in 1916. He helped design the battlecruiser HMS Dreadnought and in World War I commanded the Grand Fleet (1914-1916).

Beatty Street and Beatty Place

Beatty Street and Beatty Place were named for Admiral Beatty, Admiral of the Fleet in WWI. 

Hood Street

Hood Street was named for Rear-Admiral Sir Horace Lambert Alexander Hood who served with Beatty and in at the Battle of Jutland in WWI. He was killed during that battle when the HMS Invincible was sunk.

Anson Street

Anson Street was named for HMS Anson, one of the battleships assigned to the Pacific Fleet.

Cunningham Crescent

Cunningham Crescent was named for Admiral Andrew Cunningham who served in the Boer War, WWI and WWII, becoming Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet.

Norfolk Crescent

Norfolk Crescent was named for the HMS Norfolk, part of the fleet that sank the Bismarck and was one of the major combatant ships of the Royal Navy. Lieutenant R.S. McNaught, RNZNVR, who was born in Hastings, was one of the New Zealanders who served on the HMS Norfolk.

Sussex Street

Sussex Street was named for the fourth HMS Sussex, a major combat ships in the Royal Navy in 1939. The ship played an important role in WWII and the surrender of the Japanese forces in Singapore was accepted on board the HMS Sussex.

Haig Street

Haig Street used to be part of Park Terrace and was renamed in 1922 for Field Marshall Douglas Haig, one of the key leaders of the British and Commonwealth forces in World War I. One of his enduring legacies was setting up the Haig Fund to help servicemen who were either financially hard up or incapacitated due to being wounded, which eventually became the Poppy appeal. 

Mayfair School research

Jellicoe St (Noah and Tristan)

We did the research on Jellicoe Street. We found out that the street was named after Sir John Rushworth Jellicoe.

John Jellicoe was the Admiral of the British Grand Fleet in the Battle of Jutland in the First World War. The three Admirals in that Battle were Beatty, Hood and Jellicoe, which were the first three streets named in this area. Sadly Hood died in the battle after his ship was blown up.

New Zealand’s connections to John Jellicoe were that after the war he came to New Zealand and was the second Governor General in 1920-1924. He had a passion for sailing and was the patron of many Yacht clubs in New Zealand at that time. On return to England Jellicoe was named Earl Jellicoe.

Anson St (Calais and Hollie)

We have been doing quite a bit of research for the last six months and we have found out a lot of history behind the name of your street, Anson St. It took a long time and a lot of hard work but finally we found the New Zealand connection to George Anson.

George Anson had a battle ship named after him it was originally going to be named Jellicoe but she was renamed Anson before she took service in World War 2. They renamed her Anson because ships are usually not named after people who are still alive, Anson served in the royal navy and they thought it would be more appropriate.

The connection to New Zealand is that they had sailors from all around the world serving on the ship including at least 9 new Zealanders. Unfortunately the only 3 New Zealanders on the ship we could find information were Kenneth Aldwyn Norman Johnson, Alfred Vivian Kempthorne and Richard Everley Washbourne, because there was absolutely no written history we could find of the other 6, but the 3.

The most interesting thing we found out about was a war that George Anson served in between Britain and Spain was a war named the Jenkins Ear. The story behind the name of the Jenkins Ear was that a British sea captain Robert Jenkins who people think was a smuggler got caught smuggling by the Spanish coastguard and as punishment they cut the sea captains ear off and that’s what started the war and how it was named. Apparently some British leaders had wanted to go to war with Spain for a long time and eventually they used Jenkins ear as an excuse to go to war – eight years after the ear was severed!

4 October 2017

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