Trust looks for the author of rare field notebook
Paraparaumu woman Diana Sawrey (88), who has recently donated a field notebook, recording the graphic experiences a Marine fighting in Guadalcanal, Tongatapu and Tulagi during World War 11, to the Trust is keen to connect with his family in America.
The book, hand-written by Jim Wallace who served in the 2nd Marines, provides a rare first-hand account of the very grim life and conditions of a Marine during the Pacific War. It has been transcribed by the Trust and is available for viewing.
Mrs Sawrey, formerly Diana Johnson, met Jim Wallace at Webby's Club in Wellington. The popular club, which featured the American Army Band was open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights for dancing and suppers.
Diana remembers Jim Wallace giving her his field notebook, probably at a dance in Wellington, and asking if she would send it to his grandmother in Wisconsin. For some reason, she never sent it, and the book has languished in her top drawer for the past 45 years!
Over the years Diana says she's felt guilty about not following up on the request so, she decided to donate the notebook to the Trust, assuage her conscience, and see if any of Jim's relatives could be located to receive it – albeit belatedly.
Diana, who was about 20 at the time, thinks Jim would have been in his late 20's.
Looking back, she says she didn't learn too much about him, but felt he was older than some of the Marines and perhaps more senior. He was stationed in Paekakariki. "They were all incredibly smart and all looked as though they were officers from our point of view," she says.
After the dance, Marines, like Jim would ask if they could show the girls home. They would catch the tram to her house in Karori, where Diana's father would be waiting for them at the tram stop. They would socialise, have something to eat and drink, and either catch a taxi or walk back into Wellington.
Diana remembers Jim inviting her to a dance at camp Mackay. She came up to Paekakariki on a bus with a group of 'girls' from Wellington. She didn't correspond with him, when he was fighting in the Pacific. He just turned up from time to time. She was aware he had been quite sick with Malaria, and thinks he may have been in the Silverstream Hospital.
She says he didn't talk much about his life or his war experience.