Thu, Apr 28, 2022 8:50 AM
By Cathie Bell
A Springlands woman’s 20 year search to find out what happened to her uncle who disappeared during a bombing raid over Germany during World War 2 is the subject of a new book.
The Photo on the Wall was launched last Wednesday in front of a small but attentive crowd at the RSA Clubrooms in Blenheim.
Wendy St George never knew her uncle, who never returned home to the family farm in rural Taranaki. He was just a photo on the wall, and a subject the family didn’t talk about.
“He was never talked about,” she said.
“My grandparents couldn’t, or didn’t want to, revisit the grief they endured when Edward never returned home. I believe they were told only that their son was missing.
“Edward was going to inherit the family farm; he was their future. They had little choice but to sell their farm and move into town. Their health suffered. There was no funeral, no eulogy, no personal ceremony to mark his passing. There was only the photo on the wall.”
Wendy describes the frustrating delays and official intransigence but also her excitement at key discoveries during her search. After many false leads, she eventually found the exact time and place of the crash and even the name of the Luftwaffe pilot who shot down her uncle’s Royal Air Force Halifax bomber.
The most amazing and unexpected discovery came in 2003, with an email from one of Edward’s crew, wireless operator Sergeant Ron Wisson, who said he had bailed out of the plane just before it crashed in 1943; the sole survivor. Ron, despite living in Cornwell, became a close friend of Wendy’s and greatly helped her research.
“He made Edward real for me, not just a dusty photo,” Wendy said.
“All the hours of research that Ron and I did not only answered many of our questions, but also went some way to help heal the emotional wounds.”
Wendy, who owns and operates run Jessenka Boarding Kennels & Cattery on Old Renwick Road with husband Stephen Woollett, says she never thought she would ever write a book, but is proud that she has been able to do so in a way that gives a proper story to her uncle.