Saturday, February 21, 2009

An Avondale memorial to Lt. Wesley Neal Spragg

I referred to the memorial, in the George Maxwell Cemetery on Rosebank Road here in Avondale, in my earlier post on such war memorials at the cemetery. As I recall, it is a raised stone monument, horizontal, with the inscription etched in stone on one of two sloping sides to the top. The plot, No. 145E, is shared by Charles Robert Dearnley Spragg, born 3 June 1892 and died 4 March 1893. This was Wesley N. Spragg's full brother (he had half-sisters by his father's first marriage).

Wesley N. Spragg's story on the Cenotaph database at the Auckland War Memorial Museum's website, along with a photo.
"He was an Armament Officer and was believed to have served operationally in France. Spragg left Heliopolis in a Maurice Farman S11 on a training exercise. The plane dived into the ground at Heliopolis after the plane's port wings collapsed while passing overhead and to the rear of the Aotea New Zealand Convalescent Hospital. The pilot, Lt A. C. Upham, was pinned under the wreckage and seriously injured. It took 12 men to lift the plane clear of him. Spragg was thrown clear but suffered a head injury from which he died a few minutes afterwards without having gained consciousness."
There is the main Spragg memorial, an obelisk at Kaitarakihi on the Manukau Coast near Huia. That's the only one mentioned either in articles on Wesley N. Spragg, or on the Museum's website. The Avondale memorial is forgotten.

The story of Wesley Spragg, his father, is summarised fairly well here.

Question is: if Wesley Spragg senior lived in Mt Albert both before and after his last son's death, (close to today's Mt Albert shopping centre, between the shops and McLean Street) and he went to such trouble and expense to erect an obeslisk memorial to him on the West Coast -- then why have a memorial stone in Avondale? He himself was buried at Waikumete in 1930.

Hopefully, more information comes to light as to the Spragg family's connections with our district.


  1. Ah I just read the information on his father. Guess what. He was at the meeting concerning the Maungaturoto License at the Forester's Hall along with Mr Fowlds, Rev Davidson, Rev Gittos and cohorts. Oh this is too cool Ice!! Awesome! Small world aint it.

  2. Too right -- considering, as well, that George Fowlds came to live just across Mt Albert Road from Spragg!

  3. Wesley Spragg was my Grandmothers Grandfather and my Aunt has a lot of his personal information (journals) which I am about to return to NZ (Am in the UK) to work through. I will let you know if I uncover more connections.

  4. the Memorial Stone @ the George Maxwell Cemetery, is over a Family Plot.

    1. Yes, I know that, Unknown ... but it is still a memorial.