8/695 Private Frank Leslie Ross (part two)


A story featuring Frank Leslie Ross was published on this website in March 2013 (read first story here). This story resonated with many Plimmerton residents who remember Frank and offered further insights to this gentleman and his wife Lillian. The writer was also put in touch with Frank’s only son Bob who provided a number of photos of Frank (Rossie) and Lillian (Lill) Ross and a written family history. I will now add to that previous story.

 
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Private Ross c1914

8/695 Private Frank Leslie Ross prior to his departure on 16 October 1914 from Port Chalmers, Dunedin, with the main body of the Otago Infantry Battalion for overseas service. Private Ross is wearing a slouch hat with the New Zealand Onward badge. On his shoulders are brass ‘NZ’ over ‘Otago’ shoulder titles and on his collars the badges of the 4th Otago Rifles Regiment.

 
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4th Otago’s collar

The slouch hat was standard issue in 1914 for the majority of New Zealand infantry regiments. The ‘Lemon Squeezer’ had been introduced in 1911 by Lieutenant Colonel George Malone, who gave heroic service in the Gallipoli campaign. This hat was initially intended for the Taranaki Rifle Regiment (11th), designed to mirror the outline of Mount Taranaki and to allow the ‘run off’ of rain. In 1912 the hat was introduced into the uniform of the Wellington Rifles (5th) Regiment. On 1 January 1916 the New Zealand Infantry Division adopted the ‘Lemon Squeezer’ as it standard issue (1). Private Ross’ war service can be read in the March 2013 ANZAC story, but following his discharge in May 1919 ‘as no longer fit for war service because of wounds suffered (gas poisoning)’(2) he returned to Dunedin. In January 1921 Frank Ross married Margaret Ellen Bradbrook but sadly Margaret passed away in April 1922. Two other major events happened during this time in Otago. The first was a meeting between Frank and Jim Casey in Otago; this friendship would be continued in Plimmerton. The second was Frank’s ongoing love of yachting; his boyhood friend Tom Bragg from Opua on Stewart Island, sailed X-class yachts for many years, representing Southland in the inter-provincial sailing championships for the Saunders Cup. Frank Ross was a supporter of Tom Bragg’s Murihiku crew in January 1924, when Southland team came to Wellington for the 1924 competitions. ‘About this time Frank would meet Lillian Draiper, who was living with her parents in Lyall Bay, Wellington (3).’

 
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Murihiki at Evans Bay

Frank moved permanently to Wellington after the competition and began work in 1924 ‘with the team laying the 220,000 volt high-tension power line between Paekakariki and Otaki. On the completion of the line Frank joined the Hutt Valley Electric Power Board as a resident linesman/trouble shooter for its Western Region, based in Plimmerton.(4)’ Frank married his second wife Lillian in 1926. They built a house at 50 Motuhara Road, and while the rear of the section was steep it provided plenty of land to establish gardens and grow vegetables for which Frank was reknown.

 
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50 Motuhara Road 2013

In 1931 Frank and Lillian’s only son, Bob was born. It was also a time when the Great Depression was impacting New Zealand and felt in Plimmerton. Frank was a member of committee for organising relief food for the Plimmerton region; especially he is
remembered for delivering vegetables to needy families. He is also remembered in his official capacity as an employee of the Hutt Valley Electric Power Board for his reluctance to cut off people’s power supply, often reporting that ‘no one was home.’ Frank was also known to pay some accounts himself, as a last resort (5). This community support was common in the village of Plimmerton older residents remembering the local baker Andrew Cochrane, left bread at people’s letterboxes and the local butcher Jim Casey, made sure that there was ‘something’ available to those families who were struggling. (See The Casey family history in History/families) For his work with the community, Frank Leslie Ross in 1937 was awarded the George VI Coronation Medal. There were 90,000 of these silver medals issued through Britain and the Empire as a ‘personal souvenir of his majesty’s Coronation (6).’

 
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Coronation Medal

Frank and Lillian were involved in many community activities – Frank in the All Blaks musical troupe; Plimmerton Rugby and Paremata-Plimmerton Rugby Club; Plimmerton Bowling, Croquet & Tennis Club; Plimmerton Boating Club; Plimmerton Home and School Association, NZ Defence League and Plimmerton Returned Servicemen. He became a life member of many of these clubs and associations. Lillian was involved in Plimmerton Plunket, Plimmerton Red Cross, Plimmerton Bridge Club and the Plimmerton Play Readers (7) and worked for many years in the Plimmerton Post Office.

 
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Frank and Lillian (Lill) c1960’s

After Frank retired from the Hutt Valley Power Board he was offered a part time position at the Casey Butchery and became popular with his banter. His son suspects that the Casey’s ‘viewed him as most valuable for entertaining the customers (8).’

 
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Frank at Casey’s in 1970

Frank and Lillian’s son Bob moved to Australia in the late 1950’s and they visited him and his family on a number of occasions. It was after one of these visits and after a particularly bad Plimmerton winter, the couple who both had bronchial problems, (Frank’s stemming from gassing on The Somme) announced in 1978 that they were selling up and moving to Sydney to be close to Bob. At this stage Frank was 83 and Lill 81. They would eventually settle in Bronte, Sydney just a walk away from the beach. Frank passed away in 1983 at the age of 90, and Lill passed away in 1985 (8).


Thank you to Frank and Lill’s son Bob who kindly allowed much of the information on his parents’ life in Plimmerton to be used in this article.
Allan Dodson – June 2013


References

  • (1) New Zealand Army Museum
  • (2) Archives New Zealand: 8/695 Private Frank Leslie Ross
  • (3) Ross family papers
  • (4) Ross family papers
  • (5) Oral history Jim Gyton & Mary Casey
  • (6) 1937 Coronation Medal: Wikipedia
  • (7) Ross, Plimmerton: Papers Past
  • (8) Ross family papers

Photos

  • 1914 - Private Frank Leslie Ross – Ross family
  • 4th Otagos Collar badge – private collection
  • 1922 - Murihiki, Evans Bay - Alexander Turnbull Library
  • 2013 50 Motuhara Road, Plimmerton – Allan Dodson
  • 1937 Coronation Medal – Wikipedia
  • Frank and Lillian Ross 1960’s – Ross family
  • Frank Ross in Casey’s Butchery 1970’s – Ross family
 
     
Last Updated: 27/06/2013 7:40pm