When two Israelis, Yossi and Michal Essed unexpectedly turned up on Warren Dawson’s doorstep, he had no idea it would lead to a journey to Israel to trace the footsteps of his grandfather who fought in WW1’s Palestine Campaign.
Yossi was drawn by the name of Warren’s home – Sarona Park. Sarona was the place that New Zealand soldiers recuperated after the fierce battle of Ayun Kara. A friendship was soon made between Yossi and Warren with Yossi insisting that Warren and his wife come to Israel.
Warren’s grandfather, Cpl. Gerald Dawson kept a detailed field diary, which enabled Yossi to create an itinerary tracing his footsteps. Gerald Dawson fought at Ayun Kara and took part in all the campaigns which the New Zealand Brigade fought in the Holy Land during the years 1917-1918.
In writing about New Zealand’s contribution to the Middle East campaign during WW1, General Sir Archibald Murray spoke of his pride in having these fine soldiers serve under his command and offered the opinion that their fellow “New Zealanders should be proud of their record.”
After the 1915 disaster of Gallipoli, the Middle East Campaign was a part of our War history overshadowed by the tragic events of the Western Front. As a result, the magnificent achievements of these brave men were largely forgotten. It is our duty and privilege to remember them.
Warren is part of the Israel New Zealand Friendship Association which is seeking to have a memorial erected in Israel to remember the 18,000 soldiers who fought in the WW1 Palestine Campaign and to honour the 53 who died. They hope to unveil the sculpture as part of Anzac commemorations in 2023.
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