Sherryl Abrahart

  I’m a New Zealander who now lives in the UK. I’ve been a technical author for most of my working life, but I always wanted to be a ‘real writer’. Now my first book, An ANZAC in the FAMILY, is due to be published in New Zealand.  This book has taken almost three years to write. Along the way I developed a new passion for history, especially uncovering the records that show how ordinary people react and cope as they live through major world events. I’ve learnt new skills and lots of patience. By carefully searching through records and uncovering facts, I’ve started to understand what life was like for the 2,500 ANZACs who shipped to Gallipoli with the 4th Reinforcements.  Historians and writers are blessed in New Zealand with an awesome amount of data and records, all made freely available to us, much of it online. Our museums and local history centres, both large and small, have staff that welcomes our questions and research. It gives us an opportunity to write family stories with respect, honesty and a lot of love.

Genre:

Skills:

Branch:

Overseas

Location:

Surrey

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An ANZAC in the FAMILY

Private Leslie McAlpine is my uncle. My father told me stories about his beloved eldest brother, who teased him, shouted him lollies, then went off to war and never came back. At family gatherings my uncles and aunts would talk about Leslie, wondering what happened and where his medals were. They found Anzac Day very painful. When the Commonwealth War Graves Commission released their records online, working with a cousin, I found Leslie’s grave – in France, not in Gallipoli as we expected. For the next three years, I slowly pieced the story together. To understand Leslie’s life, I also began to research the lives of the 2,235 men in the 4th Reinforcements and this book follows their lives and deaths. The 4th Reinforcements don’t feature in many accounts of the First World War but they have a proud tradition. They fought at Gallipoli, Egypt, Salonika, and the Western Front. They did it all. Based on three years of research, An ANZAC in the FAMILY includes a complete listing of the men of the 4ths: name, rank, next of kin, where they came from and, if they were killed, where they are buried. Leslie’s story shows how decisions, made in the wider world, affect our lives and our opportunities. Using stories passed down by Leslie’s brothers and sisters, An ANZAC in the FAMILY shows the pride, the worry and the painful loss felt by them and Leslie’s parents.