In last week’s blog post, Stockport volunteer Linda Davies told the story of Private Henry Mayer, a Stockport lad who became an Australian Soldier in WW1. This week, Linda reveals the unexpected discovery which first inspired her to find out more about Henry’s fascinating life.
I first became ‘acquainted’ with Henry Mayer in 2004 when I was helping to pack up books for my Church’s relocation to other premises. Tucked away in a large pile of books I found his Bible. I had a keen interest in history and especially in the two World Wars and I was fascinated to find this small book inscribed with his name, address and date.
I was interested to find out how an Australian soldier’s Bible could find its way to Stockport, so I took the Bible home with the thought that it would be nice one day to try and trace his relatives to return the Bible to them. For two years it sat in a bedside drawer until I came across it again and decided the time was right to do something about it.
I found a website for the Australian War Memorial and sent them an email asking how I could find any relatives. They emailed me back with more websites to visit. When I searched the websites I came across many details about Henry including that he was killed in action, the place of his memorial and a copy of a form completed by his brother Joseph, giving details for the Roll of Honour at Fromelles.
I checked the website for Mortdale which is where he lived and found a museum in Hurstville which was the closest to where he lived. As I was unable to trace any relatives I emailed the museum to see if they would like to have the Bible. They were delighted to accept. After the Bible arrived they arranged for an article to be published in the local press about the Bible’s journey and showing a photo of the inside cover. The article was eventually seen by 82 yr old Henry Mayer of Sydney (known as Harry) who was Henry’s nephew, being the son of Henry’s brother Oswald, and had been named after his war hero uncle. He and his cousin Helen (daughter of Henry’s sister Emma) later visited the museum and an article and photo of them with the Bible appeared in the local press.
From further research it would appear that the Bible was probably returned to Henry’s mother in England and eventually found its way to the Stockport church by way of relatives.
Interesting Note: an ancestor of Henry Mayer was Joseph Mayer, a founder of Stockport Sunday School, who also served as a teacher and Treasurer. The current building is called the Joseph Mayer Building.
Image 1: Hurstville City Museum and Gallery – Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hurstville_City_Museum_%26_Gallery,_14_MacMahon_Street,_Hurstville,_New_South_Wales_(2010-07-18).jpg?uselang=en-gb)