Grandfather’s wartime diaries made into drama

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Timaru school teacher Glenys Whittington has turned her grandfather’s war diaries into dramatic work she will perform later this year.
Ms Whittington’s grandfather Harry Osborne was sent to war in 1917 and kept diaries of his experiences during the Battle of Passchendaele.
Mr Osborne returned to New Zealand in 1919 and died in 1972.
“The anniversary of the third battle of Passchendaele occurs in October this year [and it was] where many Kiwis lost their lives,” Ms Whittington said.
“I have devised a dramatic work based on the war diary of my grandfather, Harry Osborne, a Timaruvian, which I shall present at the South Canterbury Museum on October 11, 12 and 13.”
Initially joining and being conductor of a brass band, her grandfather found himself “going over the top” as a stretcher bearer on the initial successful assault on October 4, 1917, Ms Whittington said.
“On October 12 he was among the hundreds of men seconded to clear the battlefield following that day’s disastrous failure.
“Owing to the appalling conditions, it took some three days to bring in all wounded and many of those were from South Canterbury.”
The dramatised presentation would include a roll of honour of those men associated with South Canterbury, she said.
The diaries were first passed on to Ms Whittington’s mother when her grandfather died.
“I was always interested in his story.
“This is a way of honouring him and it is not just his story.
“I don’t think we appreciate the enormity of what took place on those battlefields.”
Ms Whittington is a graduate of the musical theatre programme of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) and teaches at Craighead Diocesan School.