FOUND IN NEW ZEALAND
TOP: Kenneth Hildebrand & Betty Jean Eaton
BOTTOM: Averil Shakes-Pears
A MISSING LETTER LED TO THE DISCOVERY
While visiting my aunt over a decade ago, I went through all of the material about Uncle Kenneth that my grandmother had saved, including a scrapbook containing many letters. Grandmother had pasted the envelopes of these letters onto the pages of the scrapbook in such a way that the letters could be removed, read, and then replaced back into their original envelopes. I read through all of the letters and scanned or photographed the more important ones. One of the envelopes was empty and I did not scan it, but I made these notes:
"Envelope to letter from: Mrs. A. E. Shakes, 113 Waipapa Rd, Wellington, New Zealand, after Kenneth's death. Looks like postmarked on 20 or 30 January 1944. Katherine Shakes somehow connected to letter. Also, in one of his letters, Kenneth mentions Mrs. Shakes' daughter Averil."
The envelope was addressed to Ken's mother (my grandmother) in Tucson AZ, and was postmarked about two months after Kenneth's death. Since discovering the empty envelope, I have been curious about what the letter contained.
A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION POSTED
|Once again, Mr. Peter McHardy in New Zealand came through for me. I had mentioned the envelope to him in 2006 and he was kind enough to take several photographs of the home at 113 Waipapa Road, Wellington, NZ and to research the name Shakes in the NZ Electoral Rolls. Based on this new information, I was able post the entry shown below on this website, inside the New Zealand Friends section:|
In March 2008 I received an email response from Averil's son after one of his sisters had seen the posting on this website.
He spoke to his mother about Kenneth and she remembered him. Averil told him that, although she had never dated Kenneth, he was a visitor in their home on at least two occasions. The first being before he left for Guadalcanal and the second after he returned and was released from Silverstream Hospital.
Averil said that Kenneth seemed "devastated" by his experiences on Guadalcanal, but he never spoke directly about it, or shared any specific details. Averil was unaware that Kenneth had been killed at Tarawa and her mother may have withheld the information from her, fearing her reaction to the news. Averil's fiance had been killed the preceding year (1942) when the P-38 he was flying was shot down over Europe. It is thought that Averil's mother may have seen Kenneth's name in the casualty lists that were often posted in NZ newspapers and decided to write to Kenneth's mother. We will never know for certain.
Averil found a photograph of Kenneth in her family photo album, but she did not know where it was taken and could not identify the homes seen in the background.
I found the answer in Kenneth's own photo album -- a photo of Kenneth's girlfriend Betty Jean Eaton that was apparently taken at the same location. I contacted Betty Jean and she remembered that the home belonged to one of her mother's friends who lived in San Diego. Betty Jean stayed there for a few days while she visited Kenneth who was in training at Camp Elliott. A composite of the two photographs can be seen at the top of this page.
AVERIL SHARES ADDITIONAL WWII PHOTOGRAPHS
ON LEFT -- A 1943 PHOTO OF AVERIL SHAKES, CORPSMAN LINTON C. MOUDY,
AND AVERIL'S AUNT BREMNER
TAKEN AT 113 WAIPAPA ROAD, WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND
ON RIGHT -- A 2008 PHOTO SHOWING THE SAME LOCATION
The entrance seems to have changed little since the days when Kenneth entered there.
TWO MORE WWII PHOTOGRAPHS
These additional photographs all include Linton Moudy, who was a friend of Averil's and someone her family permitted her to date. Linton was a USN Corpsman, assigned to a Marine Regiment and can be seen in both his Navy and Marine uniforms. He landed on Tarawa with his Marine regiment and was wounded during the fighting there. The other man in the photos is an unidentified friend of Moudy's and must also have been a corpsman. He is shown with his date in one of the photos -- she has also not been identified.
LINTON C. MOUDY
Linton C. Moudy passed away on June 22, 2008 at the age of 88 years. He was a decorated World War II and Korean War Veteran, serving in the Navy, Marines and National Guard, and retiring as a Major after 25 years.
He attended Arkansas Tech and he received his Bachelor of Science and Masters degree from the University of Arkansas. He began teaching in 1954, and taught for 22 years at the Danville High School, teaching vocational agriculture and science and serving as sponsor of the Future Farmers of America. He was the first Unit Commander of the Danville National Guard, and served in that capacity for 13 years.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Linton Moudy - Averil Shakes - Unidentified
LEFT TO RIGHT: Linton Moudy - Averil Shakes - Unidentified - Unidentified
I am very grateful to Mr. Peter McHardy for the countless hours he has spent conducting research in New Zealand on my behalf.
Thank you Peter -- and my apologies for taking so long to update this new information after all your hard work.
- Jim Hildebrand 8/12/09
PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
j i m @ t a r a w a 1 9 4 3 . c o m