Friday, February 12, 2010

Reginald Fitt's World War I certificate

Click to enlarge.

One wet day, 2004 or 2005, I was on a site on St Judes Street in Avondale. An old house there was being cleared out by the owner, and I took the opportunity of looking in the rooms with permission, taking photographs. Out the back, on a driveway, I spotted what looked like an old picture frame, soaked. I turned it over -- and found the above. 

This is a Great War Certificate of Service, another example to be found at the link. Not for someone connected with Avondale, though. Reginald William Fitt had a mother living in Campbell Terrace here in Auckland (now called Logan Terrace), but enlisted at Gisborne, and served with Otago Mounted Rifles from 1915 to 1920 when he was discharged.

This large certificate had to be scanned in two pieces, hence the join you can see. The frame was soaked. Water had got in between the certificate and the glass of the frame, and when I got it back inside (the owner said I could keep it for the historical society), it seemed touch and go if I was going to be able to save anything.Wet frame, backing, certificate nibbled at on the edges by silverfish. But it's a tough piece of paper, this. Not even much in the way of foxing mold, after all these years. It's dry now, stored in our collection for the moment.


  1. This is FABULOUS! I love reading of things being saved. Especially precious documentation :-))))

    Not only is what the certificate REPRESENTS...

  2. What a lovely little gem to find and, thankfully, save from the weather!

  3. I don't know if you trawl Paperspast [via Nat Lib. NZ website but there's a nice wee article here from the Poverty Bay Herald in 1917:

    His draft is also mentioned in the paper 24 July 1915 here:

    There is a Reginald William FITT dying aged 55 on 8 October 1950 death register entry 1950/30964 [gleaned from Dept Int. Affairs website]

    Surprisingly Archives NZ do not list him or his service records at all.

    Burial databases for Purewa, Waikaraka, Hillsborough, Onetangi, Waiheke Island, Otahuhu, Gisborne cemeteries do not list him. Maybe he went back down South, although i have come across missed entries in cemetery databases in other research in the past.

    [Just incase descendants come across this post :) ].

  4. Following on from your comment, Sandy: he turns up at Waikumete Cemetery here in Auckland -- buried there 10 October 1950. At that stage, his occupation was given as tally clerk.

    The Auckland Museum's Centotaph database lists him as well.

  5. Well how interesting! LOL the one i didn't think of to look at *rolls eyes* and the one i've spent many hours in!!! Terrific!

    Re Cenotaph yes indeed he does... i saw that - Cenotaph is up on a tab on my computer constantly - i've sent dozens of photos in [many to still be attached] - i get a gentle chiding for keeping my workmates busy LOL! :-) and today is no different... sent a few more *grin*.

    Pleased Mr Fitt is placed!

  6. Cheers, Sandy. I'll hunt up those Papers Past references sometime a little later as well. Your links didn't work, so -- I take it you did a search for Fitt?

  7. Grr how annoying. I don't know why they don't appear as a hyperlink. They work if you copy and paste in to new browser.

    Yes i searched without his middle name. I think his family would be interesting to research more, especially as his grandfather was John FITT, sometime Mayor of Parnell and involved in the Maori wars.

    There's a couple of links to Magisterial columns mentioning Reginald also if you do a search.


  8. Hi Sandy,

    Feel free to put together some of your research on the Fitt family -- I'd be only too willing to post it in the blog with your credit.

    I did try copy/paste into a new browser window this afternoon, because I saw your links weren't live. I can see one of them now, though.

  9. Tempted i am! I've got so much stuff to research here before i upload on my own blog though, and to flickr i don't know if i'd do it justice! I'm creating a monster for myself with my hobby for sure, but i'll keep Mr Fitt in the back of my mind incase i can slot more of his story in to research :-)

  10. Replies
    1. Hello Reginald William Fitt was my grandfather who died by accidental death before I was born. His sister lived in St Jude Street.

  11. Hi there Reginald William Fitt was my grandfather who died in an accident before I was born. His sister lived in St Jude Street. It was great that you rescued his war certificate. I am thinking about him especially with ANZAC Day coming up. Regards, Deborah

  12. Thanks for that -- explains why the certificate was in St Judes Street. Ta!