23 April 2019
Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) sailor Shaun Jenkins’ journey to Gallipoli with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) contingent to conduct the Anzac Day services has been a personal story of discovery and reconnection with family.
In 2004 Able Rate Combat Systems Specialist Jenkins’ family left Palmerston North to live in Redcliffe on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.
However, in 2017 he returned to New Zealand to join the RNZN. It was a tough decision to leave his family but he’s had some huge highs with the RNZN as a radar operator and watchkeeper.
“I have already travelled to the sub-Antarctic Islands since I joined the Navy and being selected for ceremonial duties at Gallipoli is one of the proudest moments for me. I’ve never felt so honoured,” he said.
On Anzac Day, Able Rate Combat Systems Specialist Jenkins will perform catafalque guard duties at the Dawn Service and at the New Zealand National Service at Chunuk Bair later that morning.
Earlier this week he delivered a reading at the NZDF ceremony at the Chanak Consular Cemetery in Çanakkale. The cemetery includes the graves of 11 Canterbury Mounted riflemen who died after the regiment returned to Gallipoli in 1918 to recover and bury their missing comrades.
“My relative, Trooper Thomas Morris-Jenkins, fought alongside the Canterburys at Hill 60 on 21 August, 1915,” Able Rate Combat Systems Specialist Jenkins said.
“He was missing in action and declared killed in action by a Court of Inquiry after the evacuation in December.
“Thanks to the efforts of the Canterbury Mounted riflemen who returned in 1918 his body was recovered and buried – one of the few marked graves at the Hill 60 Cemetery.”
The research Able Rate Combat Systems Specialist Jenkins has undertaken into his family history has also reconnected him with relatives in New Zealand. Cousins found through the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Cenotaph website have provided him with family links and anecdotes. One relative also revealed that he had served in the Royal New Zealand Navy from 1965-1974.
“The wider family has helped me so much with my research. It’s really helped me connect with my past and my family in New Zealand today,” Able Rate Combat Systems Specialist Jenkins said.