Adam's Family History


 

The Jenkins family originally from Warwickshire, England!

Welcome to my page. I have put this page to together in an effort to find more people interested in researching the following families.
This page is a work in progress. I will add more stories as I come across them.




The 1918 Raetihi Bush Fire

The 1918 Raetihi Bush Fire As children we had been used to bush fires. February and March each year would bring heavy smoke palls over the sky and the sun appeared like a huge sulphur ball through the smoke.
But THE GREAT FIRE was different. All day the wind had been rising to gale force and the smell of fire was heavy in the air.
Our father was away on business and Mother alone with we three girls and Harold who was about two years old. Even though we felt the tension in the air, and everyone was longing for the wind to change, we were not really conscious of the terrible fear our Mother was facing. As darkness came the worry increased, as did the wind and the red glow of the approaching fires. We watched from the window, and the big hill behind our house was inky black against the angry red sky. We had gone to bed in the midst of all of this excitement. We must have slept, but were awakened by Mother who said “its time to leave now”. This we could not understand – leave the house in the middle of the night when the wind was a raging inferno carrying burning debris and even sheets of iron with it. The hill that had been inky black was now alight with burning trees, like living torches.
We dressed in our best frocks. Rita and I wore our new brooches – mine was a blue bird. Mother had packed the pram with some clothes and put Harold in it, and maybe Marge too, as she was very small. It was a big cumbersome pram, and I’ll never know how Mother pushed it, or even how we even walked to the town, as when the door was opened, we couldn’t stand against the force of the wind. Our eyes were smarting with the smoke and sparks and our mouths full of grit. The pram was blown over several times, but we made it to the outskirts of town where we all clung desperately to the wooden railing o f Freeman Jackson’s Salesyards. I had hidden my head, but some one touched me and tried to pull me up. It was mother and then I saw the wooden fences all around us alight. “Time to move again”.
Struggling people all bungled up and unrecognisable passed us. They shouted but it was impossible to her what they said above the roar of wind and fire.
Two words seemed to be repeated over and over “Drill Hall, Drill Hall” so we started off again, but when we got to the Drill Hall, its roof was sailing over our heads like a pocket handkerchief .Here Mother gave up. The pram was wrecked and useless. Some man loomed out of the chaos and took Harold in his arms, and now the cry was “the River, the River”, but we could not keep up with the man in the confusion we lost him and our little brother. We were in complete desolation!
At last we reached the river. Someone tried to give mother a child, but it was a little girl, and Mother said she had enough girls, she wanted her boy. Then somehow the man with Harold found us. Crowds were scrambling down the bank to the river but the man managed to persuade Mother to continue on to the Station as a relief train was being sent through from Ohakune to the rescue. So we went on to the Station. The bush was denser here and fires were raging everywhere, and looking back we saw the bridge burning behind us. Crowds were on the Station but no train. Then we heard its whistle blowing, and the screaming of cattle as they crashed from the Railway lines into the burning fires on each side. The train waited as long as possible to pick up stragglers, but it became dangerous to delay and we started moving at a snails pace with whistle again blowing to get the poor cattle off the line. Above the roar of the wind and fire we heard their screaming.
It was morning when we arrived in Ohakune and the wind had changed at last and a soft rain was falling. A stranger Lady was smiling at us and took us to her place for breakfast. Then the Salvation Army came with Relief and we were fitted out with clean clothes. Auntie Daisy took charge of us. Our Father must have come later. He had heard the whole town had been wiped out and that there were no survivors. One of us said, “can we go home now?” Mother replied “ there’s no home to go to.”and poor little Harold went around singing to himself “No w-i-n-d, No w-i-n-d, No more w-i-n-d, over and over.

Back to Adam's Homepage