Generations of Genes Copyright © Phyllis Jeans 2000
All rights reserved ISBN 0 473 03868 4
PEMM Publishing Cambridge, New Zealand
[p7] [The Jeans Line]
Jim was selected to deliver a bouquet of flowers with the Major’s compliments. He was surprised to see beds of beautiful flowers around the convent but presented the flowers with a little speech. The Mother Superior’s eyes twinkled and the company of nuns smiled. Explanations followed. It was horse manure to enrich the soil of their flower gardens they wanted.
There is a photograph showing a long trail of men and horses somewhere in the desert. A postcard shows Jim and two other men on camels in front of the pyramids. He would have received some of the parcels the good people of Cambridge sent to their own ‘boys’. Comforts, such as tobacco, condensed milk and coffee, a handkerchief, sweets, socks, notepaper, razor-blades and other items were packed into individual parcels and sent overseas. Sometimes the latest copy of the Waikato Independent was included.
Jim was to survive in good shape his four years and forty-eight days of soldiering. He was not wounded. He did, however, have a period of sickness, spending time in a rest camp and in hospital. On 24 May 1919 he left the desert forever when he sailed from Port Said to Marseilles on the Princess Julianna en route to the United Kingdom. He spent about ten weeks in England, seeing something of that country and taking the opportunity of making the acquaintance of his mother’s family. There are only snatches of stories; a map reading exercise in London to find a short cut home during a bus-strike; a visit with a policeman kinsman to the rather shady districts of a big city, an odd postcard or two. One of these shows a stretch of the Thames near Richmond and the message ‘I wonder Jim if ever you will visit Richmond again, I’m often there a sweet place, I wonder if you remember this view, love Louise’. A postcard of Bolton is marked with a cross to indicate the approximate place where he stayed. There is a photograph of a large family, whether relatives or friends is not known; a street address. Jim’s mother Ellen Wadsworth died in April 1917. Jim probably did not keep in regular contact as he settled back into civilian life and the links with the old country weakened and were lost.
Tainui. Dickie Collection. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. Ref. No. G- 2431-1/1-.
On 8 August 1919 Jim sailed from England, aboard the Tainui, with hundreds of other soldiers, five nurses, war brides and children and a few returning civilians. The ship’s papers (held by National Archives,Wellington) contain various reports and notices from the voyage. Discipline and health had been excellent. There had been no influenza on board. No doubt the complusory fumigation parade at the ‘Disinfecting and spraying room’ on each of the first three days at sea proved an effective precaution. Jim was listed with sixteen other men to parade at the Dental Surgery at ‘1000 today’ (Ship’s Routine Orders, part 1, No. 6, at Sea, 14 August, 1919). Church services were voluntary as were the education classes which offered about a dozen different subjects ranging from building construction to bookkeeping and from dairy science to shorthand.
There were two ports of call on the voyage. At Norfolk, Virginia (U.S.A.) the YMCA had billetted and entertained the troops. Another break in the voyage was at Colon, Panama Canal. A number