a souvenir for the family at home with love from len.
For many of the men volunteering, the war was supposed to be a "great adventure" that would be "over by Christmas". A chance to travel the world and get out of little old New Zealand. To see the pyramids in Egypt and the great open seas.
That’s what Leonard Truscott thought when he left the Waihi Mining Company and enlisted in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. Len was part of a big mining family from Waihi.
You can see from Leonard's Casualty Record that he arrived in Egypt just before Christmas in 1915. He must have bought this silk handkerchief while he was there and sent it home to Waihi as a souvenir to show his family the amazing sights he was seeing on his great adventure. The embroidery ‘With Best Love from Len’ was a personal touch so they knew he was always thinking of them. Almost like a postcard.
Len arrived in France in April 1916 and died in October that same year. Len's family carefully kept the souvenirs he sent home for many, many years. Each year they placed a notice in the paper on the anniversary of his death.
Len's handkerchief became a token of his life and death at war, a memento to remind us of how so many like Len lost their lives on their ‘great adventure’.
You have been given Len's silk scarf that he sent home to his parents as a souvenir of his adventures. You are now tasked with discovering more of the story behind Leonard Truscott. How much of his story can you piece together? The suggestions below will help you on your research journey. The How We Find It Fact Sheet will also be a helpful tool in helping you discover the pieces of Leonard's puzzle.
FIND LEONARD'S RECORD OF SERVICE
You're in luck. Leonard served in the New Zealand Army so his records can be found online at the Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph. This is your most important search. Collect as much information as you can. Once you've found Len's Serial Number move to Archway and search for his service documents there.
FIND LEN'S GRAVE ON THE MAP
Leonard's mother, Mary Denton, would have had a special card delivered to her with a photo of Len's grave and the exact location should she ever be able to visit. Use Leonard's Service Number to search for the location of Len's grave. Download the Cemetery Plan and use it in conjunction with Google Maps to find his final resting place.
MAP LEN'S FAMILY TREE
There were many Truscotts in the Waihi and Thames area. Lots of Len's documents give us clues about Len's family. Archway gives us his parents' names; Papers Past and Google give us school awards and memorial notices. Can you create a family tree of the people in Leonard's family? How many of them can you connect?
Uncover more pieces of Len's story
FIND OUT ABOUT LEN'S LIFE AS A MINER BEFORE THE WAR
Leonard was from Waihi. In 1914, Waihi was a mining town, just as it is today. Leonard was a miner at the Martha Mine where he worked for the Waihi Gold Mining Co. The Waihi Museum even have records of his name in the Martha Mine Pay Book. Len and his father John worked in the mines and had connections with gold mining and with the Miners' Union. Use Papers Past and Len's Pinterest Board to search for connections between the Truscott men and the mines of the Waihi and Thames area.
UNCOVER LEN'S LAST WISHES BEFORE HE DIED
Leonard has 21 pages of documents in his Archway file. On the first page there is red scrawly writing that records what Len wanted to happen to the money he had saved. The Public Trust was often in charge of making sure that a soldier's 'last wishes' were carried out. One page in Len's file shows us that he changed his mind about his will. Can you find it? How did he record that his wishes had changed?
Did Leonard go to a Girls' School?
This article from the Waihi Museum indicates that Len's older siblings attended the Kaueranga Girls' School. It seems that there is evidence of Leonard and his brothers and sisters attending the Kaueranga Girls' School, The Kaueranga Boys' School and something called The Kaueranga Sanders School. Use Papers Past to search for Truscotts attending these schools. Can you work out whether they still exist? Can you find a connection with the Thames South School of today?
Help solve the Unsolved Mystery
where is the waihi district high school roll of honour?
Leonard is remembered on at least two war memorials - the recently rediscovered Waihi Wesley Memorial Church Roll of Honour as well as the The Waihi District High School War Memorial which hung in the Kings' Theatre in Waihi. Descriptions of the memorial suggest it was very detailed.
... it is an artistic piece of work, plainly yet richly framed. An appropriate design shows the figures of Britannia standing in the upper right hand corner, sounding a clarion call to arms across the globe of New Zealand, represented in the lower left-hand corner by a sturdy young colonial in football costume, who, hearing the call, is in the act of dropping a football and grasping a rifle with fixed bayonet. At the head are the words. “Waihi District High School” and the school motto, “Duty our watchword.” Below, resting on the globe, is the scroll containing the names of the old boys who have enlisted, with, in four or five instances, the further sad announcement, “Killed in Action.”
But the Roll of Honour is missing. Where could it be? We know that Leonard's name was on it and we know that there is a team searching for it. Surely no one could have thrown it away?
Len's souvenir of Egypt is connected with the story of Leonard (Len) Truscott who attended Kaueranga Girls' School and Waihi District High School. The original cloth is held by Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. #1999.223. Despite best efforts relatives of Leonard were unable to be contacted.
Find documents connected with the life of Leonard Truscott here
The Truscott men worked at the Martha Mine
Thames South School
The Walking with an Anzac Team found the first clue in Len's story when they visited Thames South School (which the Kaueranga schools were merged into). This drinking fountain (now a sundial) was donated "In Memory of the Scholars who served in the Great War". Further research on the same platforms you have used today allowed us to discover Len's Story.