Voices from the Past

Motueka Jeweller Dies at the Daisy Patch

Alexander Elder Forsythe was born in Thurso, Caithnesshire, Scotland on 1 February 1886. Thurso is the northernmost town on the UK mainland.

Alexander Forsythe had previously served for five years with the Royal Highland Volunteers in Perthshire, Scotland before moving to New Zealand to begin a new life. At the outbreak of World War One, Alexander was working as a jeweller and optician in Motueka.

Alexander Forsythe enlisted on 12 August 1914 as a second lieutenant after receiving his commission due to Territorial service with the 12th (Nelson) Regiment.

He was posted to the 12th Nelson Company, Canterbury Infantry Battalion and after a period of training, he embarked with the Main Body on 16 October 1914 from Wellington aboard the Athenic bound for Egypt.

On arrival at Alexandria in December, the men entrained to Zeitoun Camp on the outskirts of Cairo and began the tough training regime of musketry drill, bayonet fighting, sand-bagging and of course, plenty of route marches. In their downtime, the men experienced the nightlife of Cairo. It was an eye opener for many a young man, with drinking dens and brothels.

In January 1915, the men were required to guard the Suez Canal against Turkish attacks. The Canterbury boys were camped at Ismailia and patrolled until being pulled out in late February.

On 8 April 1915, prior to his unit embarking for Gallipoli, Alexander Forsythe was promoted to lieutenant.

6/228 Lieutenant Alexander Forsythe went ashore at Gallipoli on 25 April with the rest of the Canterbury men. They were all ashore by 12.30pm and came under Turkish fire. They moved inland, dug in and fought small battles over the next few days.

On 5 May, the New Zealand Infantry Brigade and the 2nd Australian Brigade were shipped to Helles to reinforce General Hamilton’s efforts to capture Achi Baba (the Second Battle of Krithia).

On Saturday the 8th of May, the New Zealanders and the Australians attacked Krithia and moved across an area known as the Daisy Patch. At 10.30am, Alexander Forsythe and the other Canterbury boys moved forward in two lines. The attack was slow moving and the men passed the trenches of two British units before being hit by a hail of Turkish machine gun fire and were cut to pieces. Alexander Forsythe was killed in the attack. His body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Twelve Tree Copse (NZ) Memorial, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Turkey.

His photograph album is held at the National Army Museum Te Mata Toa in Waiouru