Leonard William Smith
(1888 - 1981) and
Mary Elizabeth Price (1881 - 1970)
During the latter part of World War One, Mary met a New
Zealand Soldier by the name of Leonard William Smith who was
convalescing at the New Zealand Hospital at Hornchurch. They were
married on the 12th April 1919. Convalescent Residences at time
Leonard: N.Z. Command Depot, Godford.
Mary: 67 Alfriston Road, Battersea.
Len and Mary, together with Eirlys and Alun, sailed from Plymouth aboard the S.S.Ionic on the 8th September 1919 arriving at Wellington, New Zealand on the 29th October 1919. Len and Mary settled on a farm in the Tauhoa-Kaipara Flats District some 55 miles north of Auckland. It is interesting to note that the comprising 160 acres was purchased for the sum of 3500 pounds. Their only child, Frances Mary (Bubs) was born in 1921.
From 1976-9 (when aged 88-91 years), Len Smith wrote some letters documenting some of the events over his life. They describe his time in the army, his meeting and years with Mary Price/ Tyler-Davies, buying the Kaipara Flats farm, the very start of Smith & Davies, and some details on Alun and Eirlys Tyler-Davies' early years.
His letters are transcribed below, in rough sequence of the events he described:
(His years with the NZ Expeditionary Force)
L Smith 12/24/76
16th Waikato Co
1st Auckland Battalion,
Total Service 4 years 284 days
A fellow was cleaning his Rifle and I was standing with my back towards him and at that moment he fired his Rifle. So I turned round and said you nearly shot me and he looked terrible with the fright.
|A postcard which Len sent to his brother Percy while on duty|
The other accident happened at a bombing (and ammunitions ?) of inspection about the 44th day. The Sergt instructing has forgot to release the charge he had placed in the barrel. so he tried to release it with his right by thumping it on floor right opposite where I was sitting but nothing happened. He then changed it over to his other hand and thumped it hard on the floor. It then went off. Blew his hand off and severed his leg very badly. He was sitting on a Box at the time. A few days later 4 officers held a court of enquiry and I was the only one called to give evidence and that cleared the matter up and no more was required. To finish it off we were examined and most of us passed as far as I can (remember).
|Carrying ammunition up
Shrapend Gully to the front trenches. I received a knock
on one knee, and had developed Dysentery that morning.
Coming back with a corporal who was carrying two wounded,
and I couldn't keep up, so I just sat down. The corporal
very concerned said "You'll get sniped at
there". But I thought I'm just too tired.
I went into Cairo from camp, we went to a friends place and believe it or not we just sat and talked and had no drinks. I arrived on the station to catch the 11 o'clock train back to camp and a picket picked me up for over staying leave. I was taken in a garry and put in the lockup for the night with about 70 drunk Aussies. What a night when one is sober. The Tommy's nearly ripped my tunic off searching me. What an experience. Then put me in the lock up.
Len's Certificate of Discharge
How We Met
|A Digger friend in my ward
(at the) hospital , Walton on Thames, asked me if I would
come with him as he had met 2 lady friends the day before
, and (they had) asked him to bring a friend with him the
next day for company, and at first, I said I have got a
date, so I said to Jimmy see me in the morning and so I
said "I'll go with you" and away we both went
and met the Ladies.
They had hired a boat and spent some of the time on the River Thames so that is how I met Mary Elizabeth Tyler-Davies.
We then got very friendly and got to know each other very well. She told me she had got two kids and would like me to meet them, this was arranged. So the next time I went up to London and near her home I met them and I thought what nice kids Eirlys and Alun were. From then on, I was there often and quite a few times, Mary would strike up on the piano and sing to me "Widows are Wonderful".
|Then as time went on, we got very friendly etc. so she took me to the Jewellers shop and showed me the diamond ring she wanted, so I took that as a proposal. She said "I've never had an engagement ring". "Oh! It will take some time for the money to arrive from NZ" (after a few weeks it arrived). Every time we met in London I would have to go with her and have another look at the ring. It had 4 diamonds set in Platinum.|
As the years went on, Mary gave the ring to Denise who is now in Sydney. She had the ring remodelled with 3 diamonds, and the other diamond is placed in a pendant worn round the neck. The diamonds, I understand are insured at a great price. Bubs has the wedding ring. I will now close with this story. Len at 91 years.
I must say we had a happy time with Mary's family at Bwlch in Wales and other Welsh centres. We both attended a few rugby games. At that time they called the teams "NZ Army playing the Mother Country". Many games were played, and at Cardiff one day, we had an idea to call at the Pub and have a couple, the two doors were wide open, but no beer only a bit of hard stuff left, anyway we saw the game and NZ Army won.
Xmas Day 1919
Mary's father sent her a Turkey for Xmas dinner. She invited her boss, a Mr Fissell for Xmas dinner and said it would be ready at 2 o'clock. It was still early, about 11 o'clock in the morning, so Fussell and I took a short walk to the Local and returned at 2 o'clock as promised full of all the good things and sat down to dinner and I kept saying this is a lovely tender turkey Mary. Another catch was being caught under the mistletoe above the door, all good fun, and the girls enjoyed it all. Cheers from Len, 91 and love.
Our Wedding, 60 years ago, 1919
The Rev Jones officiated at the Service, and all went off well. Eirlys was the bridesmaid and Oliver Cottell Jones was the Bestman. We now retired to the Registry office and the usual signing was done. Kisses all round with Mary's friends and goodbyes etc. Before arriving at the church, Alun and Oliver took me to the wrong church, so we had to go around another block and there they were all waiting. More goodbyes and best wishes and love.
Then Mary and I set off by taxi to the station, Victoria, I think, and travelled to Goldbury where Mary had booked rooms. On arrival, we were shown the Lounge, Dining room and the Bedroom. The bed has brass rails, and the mattress was a bit soft and spongy but it took the strain etc.
|Next morning was Sunday and
breakfast was served later for people like us. William
was the Butler and looked after us like a gentleman. He
would busy himself round us at any time and see that we
were getting first class attention.
After a meal we would retire to the lounge and Mary would have a cigarette and start up on the Piano and get them all going and I would have a few drinks etc, but I was reasonable, others at times would keep on etc, but really all were good.
The time just about up, we returned home to London. Of course after being married, Eirlys and Alun wanted to know what to call me, I said, tell them to call me Len and that's how it always was.
After returning to London, the next day we travelled down to Wales and took Alun and Eirlys with us and we all stayed with Mary's parents and family. After staying over a few days in Bwlch a Welsh village, we all moved on. Alun and Eirlys went to an Aunt in Lampiter and stayed there till we returned from the North of England. Mary and I went on to Monmouth and stayed with Uncle Johnston for a few days. He gave Mary a silver dish with a cover, all silver. Mary and I then travelled to the North of England and stayed at Newcastle with my relatives, then on to Dorsett, three families there, also Aunt Mary, a widow who had a son George, a chemist, another son Henry, a butcher and another son Robbie, and still worked, also another cousin married in Durham, and another at Bradford where my father was born on the 11th November 1858 John Leonard Smith.
Later I went back, Percy was with
me, and called on friends in York and saw the first Railway
Engine built in Britain, it was parked on York railway station
and I believe it is still there. The next move was a big one for
us all, to get to Torquay, this was done in stages. First to
Hornchurch, then on to Codford, Exeter, Newton, Albot and finally
Torquay. I had a awkward job, and that was to get Mary's piano to
N.Z. The shipping Co. were no help, neither was the Army. I think
the Army suggested I try the YMCA and they took charge, that was
a great win for us. I suppose I could write a lot more, but I do
not find the job easy with failing sight, so I hope all who reads
this will enjoy the contents.
From Grandy 91, 1979.
P.S. William the Butler gave us his card when we left the Hotel, wishing us all the best and a most sincere goodbye. Percy and I also saw York Cathedral about the time we saw the first Railway Engine.
The five girls names in the Morris family, Dorothy, Janie, Gladys, I have forgotten the others. Emily in the Robinson family, the rest I forget, it is now about 70 years since I met them. At one time, I wrote to four families, it was the time when my wife Mary went home. I sent the letters Air Mail, and all were returned, all gone away, no address, so I don't know where they got to or went to, so I did not go to England.
(The First Years in New Zealand: 1918 - 1920)
|Len & Family left
Southhampton for NZ about the end of September 20 1918 on
the S.S. Ionic with a full complement of Married Couples,
including 127 babies with Parents 237. The remaining
Party would be round about 800 all married. With about 50
single men returning from Service to all Parts of NZ. We
travelled via Panama Canal passing Pitcairn Island and
arriving at Wellington N.Z.
In Oct 1919 The South Island Co. went on by a special Boat to Lyttleton and then went by trains to their Homes. The Wellington Draft left the Ship Ionic and returned to their homes in the Wellington Province.
The Ionic then Steamed for Auckland Port and we arrived on Friday just before Labour weekend. On arrival at Auckland, we were all met by relatives and friends. My Father was almost one of 1st to come on board to greet us and welcome us all to N.Z. It was (a) great morning, and then after long welcome by other relatives and some other Friends. A Volunteer Person with a Car took 5 of us to 32 Halston Road. This was my Fathers home and all was made ready for us with Miriam & Percy as well.
Harry Miriam's husband was down at Summer near Christchurch for treatment. After a few days he returned to Auckland fit and well. The other relatives and friends returned by Trams and Car. Harry and Percy had already met Mary and the children in London. Percy attended to the luggage we brought with us. 1 Leather Case. 1 strong Box which Locked and a large Strong brown tin trunk. That same day Mary and I returned to Queen St by Tram. And she passed George Courts shop. She saw a sewing machine in the Window so we purchased it right away it was a treadle model. So we goes on further and met some of Ship mates. I waved & one poked her tongue out at me and made a nasty face. I was now dressed in Civvies and she did not know me. Then later returned home by tram and settled down for the night as we were all in a state of Holiday mood.
We left Eirlys and Alun with Harry and Miriam and some times with Grand Dad and Percy. Mary and I took off for the South Island and stayed with Aunt Rose and Uncle Willie Smith near Christchurch. Had a few days in Ch.Ch. then back to Wellington. Travelled up to Dannevirke. Saw the Hirst Family and then on to a place called Norsewood and stayed with Cousin Laura and Bill Dean. The next move was to Palmerston North and looked up Connie and Jenny Hume who came out on the same ship. From there we went on to Halcombe for 2 or 3 days. Saw the Sigle Family (father's side). Also cousin Nellie Carrie Rose & (Sohiy?). All now have passed on. Next call was at Fielding and saw Sis Clarry. Chris (Heights). Next move was to go to Hawera Taranaki and stay a few days with Aunt Adeline my mother's sister. This completes the trip at this stage. Made a call at Taihape to see Hine & Monty Barnard. Then aboard the express for Auckland.
The Xmas week was now catching with us so we got that one over with the Family, but no mistletoe this time. This custom is not carried out in NZ kissing people under the doorways as they enter. With the school holidays lasting to 1st February 1920, Eirlys then went to Brains College as it was known then. The college was very close to Milne & Choyce shop. She took up a course of Accountancy and at the end of the year Miss Brain got her a job at the Milne & Choyce office and she was there until she got married.
Alun went to a halftime school for 2 years and rode a horse. His school days were Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The teacher, Ernest Sharp, had two schools and he had to teach 6 days a week.
Mary and I were still in Auckland. I gave up the idea of chasing a job and it was a bit hard to pick and choose. Anyway I spent my time farming before the war. So it happened that was to be my line.
I noticed a farm advertised in the Herald one morning and it was advertised as a model farm. I read it and saw the agent in Auckland, and got some more particulars about it and where it was. The agent said you will have to go up on the express to Kaipara Flats and you will be met with a North Auckland Agent who will meet you with a horse and take you to the farm. So I went but I had not ridden a horse for 5 years. Anyway I arrived at the property and had a general inspection as regards to stock. It was a dairy farm doing 35 cows or thereabouts. Large shed fitted with Milking Plant and Anderson Engine. House of solid Heart of Kauri, large rooms. Well I returned to Auckland the same day and I said the farm is not bad but it seems miles from nowhere. No stores etc for miles but I did see the Hall out near the farm. There was a piece of land near Kaipara Harbour all flat and looked very good, over 1000 acres. So I said to Dad and Mary you both go up and have a look so they went and met and taken by car from Kaipara Flats. Were quite impressed with the place and surroundings so the next thing an offer was made and it was accepted. So we took possession February 1920. Cows were still being milked and I carried on milking till end of May 1920.
Moving from Auckland a lot of our stuff for the house went up by rail. My father gave Mary and I an oak bedroom suite. Harry and Miriam a dinner set and other household stuff was collected. We also bought some of the household stuff on the Farm so we then had all we needed for a while. Mary named the farm (Brognanoor?), meaning in Welsh a small hill near the sea, with rolling and flat land etc.
After being on the Farm for a short time 5 maori ladies called to welcome Mrs Smith to N.Z. and then they asked her had she any old clothes which they could exchange for some Kumaras. She then said I'll have a look. The then offered them a cigarette each, and they were quite surprised and said she smokes!
|Soon after this cream
cartage in the district with horses and a wagon by a
contractor was giving it up. So we said we would get a
truck and the Farmer said we would have all his work in
the way of Cartage to his Farm.
So a meeting was arranged with the farmers to meet in the Tauhoa Hall and so it was.
Our offer was for 2 years with the options of a 3rd year and was accepted by the Farmers.
About 2 years later a Goat Farmer saw me and asked me if I take on the (Goat?) run to Hellensville Factory so we had a meeting and it was decided we do the cartage of Cream on the same basis as the Tauhoa contract. So that was accepted. So Smith & Davies got going in many other contracts and job. In the early part we had mud roads to contend with. I will now close now the History of Smith and Davies. Len & Alun.
About 53 years of Faithful Service and still going with more trucks & tractors.
(Bubs' birth 1921)
Mary left the farm about [date confidential] and stayed with my Dad, Percy, also Eirlys was with them. About the [date confidential] Mary was taken to maternity home in Remuera and the baby was born [date confidential] 1921. I always called Bubs a 1921 model it was I suppose I got the idea from cars etc although there were not many around in those days only Fords. I think the baby was about 8lbs. I did go down one day to see them both and was a little excited with it all. The nurses were very nice to me and passed a few remarks etc. I returned home the same day.
A few days later Mother Baby and Eirlys returned to the farm. Eirlys stayed for a few days then returned to Auckland back to Milne & Choyce. Bubs grew into quite a strong child and was always amusing and more so as she got older. When about 31/2 to 4 we used to have a few baby talks about things and were quite amusing. We would both sit beside the fire on a small seat. I had an alphabet with pictures in cloth pinned to the wall and then I would point with a long stick and I would say "What is F for?" and she would read the picture and say F is for Dad and K is for Child and O is for Cow and so on. She was a good scholar also. She finished her education at the Auckland Girls Grammar School then took on hairdressing etc.
|About 1944 she married
Dennis Presland who was called up for the Second World
War. (They) had 2 Sons and 1 Daughter.
Now they are all married: Derek with 2 Boys and 2 Girls; Kevin with 2 Boys; and Denise in Sydney 1 Boy & 1 Girl. So they have 8 Grand Children. Some are now going to school and others will follow later on.
This information comes from
their Great Grandfather now aged 91.
This was written on Sept
Monday 10th 1979.
The Hockey Team Girls
Mrs Smith, Mary, was in charge of the Rodney Hockey Girls Club which included, Tauhoa, Wellsford, Kaipara Flats and Port Albert. She acted as chaperone in the 1928 and 1930 period and were billeted at a boarding house at the top of Symonds St., the Castle Bar.
Country week hockey was a busy time for the girls, but they enjoyed it. One evening, they got into our room and apple-pied our bed. It was difficult to get into, but we did not get it put right altogether, but we managed even if we had one leg out. The girls were a lovely lot and always enjoyed Country week. Mrs Smith was in charge of them quite a few times for their Hockey week. Cheers.
Eirlys was married to Mr Roy Kelly in 1933 in the Paraki Church near Helensville. Bubs was the Bridesmaid at the age of 12. The Kelly's had 2 children. A girl she called Dale. The other a boy he named was Tyler. (The Kellys) were all settled in (Kactai?) for a number of years. Tyler married Margret and they had 2 children 1 Boy and a Girl and are now parted and all are in Australia at present.
(Alun's Schooling and later years)
Alun rode a horse to School from the Farm, Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays 3 days a week. Mr Ernest Sharp was his teacher and he had 2 schools. One was (Mangakara?) and the other was (Glorit?). So he taught 6 days a week for about 3 years from 1916. Then Alun had a term at Mt Albert Grammar School. Alun attended a School reunion about a month ago arranged at Tauhoa where the schools are now united. Alun is now 70 years of age.
Alun and Ethel were married in the Pitt St Church Auckland 1937. Bubs was a bridesmaid and they had 2 children, Davina and Glyn and are both in the Smith & Davies Firm at Northcote Kawana St.
Davina married Ian McKinnon and they have 4 sons.
Glyn married Noleine Simpson and they have a son + daughter Donna and Brent and now have rooms on top of the Building Office and Workshop and also building their new home 1979 some short distance from the business. A very nice place I think I could say nearly all Glass with Black & White carpet and a Bar is in the main room, dining room, a very large and cosy room, the Bar is almost automatic, a most comfortable setup which gives a stunning view.
|Thank you Len for these wonderful stories! Your memory lives on.|