ABRAHAM (ABRAM) HADLEY
1 January 1870 – 27 November 1918
Regimental No. 37739
Abraham, known as Abram, HADLEY was born on 1 January 1870 in Forster, New South Wales, Australia. He was the sixth child of 19 children (15 sons and 4 daughters) born to a well-known Forster couple, James and Christina Josephine (nee CLAYDON) Hadley who had married in Maitland, New South Wales on 12 March 1861. They were a long-lived couple, James dying at the age of 92 in 1934 and Christina aged 91 in 1935. All except their son Joseph Edwin who died in an accident in 1879 at the age of 14, lived to adulthood. Abraham’s father James worked in the local sawmill.
In 1904 at the age of 34, Abraham came to New Zealand. One older and six of his younger brothers also left Australia to live in New Zealand. In May of 1904 Abraham passed the 2nd Class Stationary Engine Drivers Certificate of Competence in New Zealand.
“A stationary engine is an engine whose framework does not move. They are used to drive immobile equipment, such as pumps, generators, mills or factory machinery. The term usually refers to large immobile reciprocating engines, principally stationary steam engines and, to some extent, stationary internal combustion engines.”
At the time there was lots of work in the centre of the North Island where the Main Trunk railway line was being pushed through, eventually being opened for service between Auckland and Wellington in 1908. There was also large-scale felling of native forests, both to service the construction of the railway and to provide timber for many other uses. Abraham seems to have been amongst the men who used his qualifications and skills to earn his living based on bush work.
In December 1906 he was taken to Wanganui Hospital by train when he was badly injured “his injuries, consisting of severe bruises about his loins and a crushed foot, while bushfelling at Moawhango, near Taihape.” Wanganui Herald 14 December 1906.
On the 1911 and 1914 Waimarino Electoral Rolls he was described as a Donkeyman and he was living at Taihape. “Donkeyman” is usually used in a maritime context, and is a ship’s crew member whose job is to deal with the operation and maintenance of any and all assorted machinery other than the ship's main engines. Presumably Abram was skilled with machinery and looked after a range of larger and smaller engines providing power at sawmills, and in the bush.
In 1911 Abraham’s is brothers Harry and Thornton were also living in the Taihape area, Harry in Rangataua (close to Ohakune) as a yardman and Thornton in Raetihi as a mill hand; all three were unmarried. Another of the brothers, Arthur, was also a mill hand working at Taoroa. The other four brothers were all married and living in Wellington in 1911.
Sometime after 1914 Abraham moved from Taihape to Napier. On 23 April 1917 he was living at Munroe House, Napier when he volunteered to join the Samoan Relief Forces as an Infantryman. He stated his occupation was a Steam Engine Driver for the Napier Borough Council. His medical examination showed that his ‘apparent age’ was 47 years and 3 months; he was 5 feet 3½ inches tall, he weighed 149 pounds and his chest measurements were 34½ minimum and 37½ inches maximum. He had fair complexion, blue eyes and grey hair. His religious profession was Church of England. He had a scar above his right knee, possibly caused by the accident he had in 1906, as well as scars of burns on his left forearm. His eyesight was 6/6, his hearing and colour vision normal; his limbs, joints and chest well formed, his heart and lungs were normal. He was free from hernia, varicoele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease and he had a distinct mark of vaccination. He was in good bodily and mental health with no slight defects to cause rejection.
Abraham was given the regimental number 37739 in the New Zealand Infantry Regiment. As a man who had lived in the bush Abram would have known how to shoot and ride so with very little training he left Napier on 9 May 1917 on the ‘Talune’ to join the Samoan Relief Force. He arrived in Apia on 28 May 1917 in the Infantry regiment and became one of approximately 350 men who were in the garrison force following the “capture” of Samoa on 29 August 1914. There was very little for the men to do, except train and keep an eye on the wireless station. On 15 July 1917 Abraham transferred from the Infantry to the Mounted Infantry.
In early November 1918 the influenza pandemic that was sweeping the world was introduced to Samoa when the passenger and cargo ship ‘Talune’ arrived in Apia on 7 November.
“Unfortunately, the acting port officer at Apia, that capital of Western Samoa, had not heard about the flu epidemic in Auckland……and he allowed all passengers ashore, including six serious flu cases. Two of them died within a few days, and a week later the flu was spreading with ‘amazing rapidity’ on the main populated island of Upolo and had reached the larger island of Savai’i.”
Infection quickly spread amongst the population, nearly all of whom had almost no resistance.
“The disease spread rapidly through the islands. Samoa's disorganised local health facilities and traumatised inhabitants were unable to cope with the magnitude of the disaster and the death toll rose with terrifying speed. Grieving families had no time to carry out traditional ceremonies for their loved ones. Bodies were wrapped in mats and collected by trucks for burial in mass graves.
The total number of deaths attributable to influenza was later estimated to have reached 8500, or 22% of the population.”
According to Geoffrey Rice New Zealand soldiers helped nurse the sick until they dropped from exhaustion, and at least two died from influenza themselves. One of those was Abraham Hadley, who died on 27 November, aged 48.
He was buried in grave 7 in the Magiagi Cemetery in Apia. There are 11 men from the Samoan Relief Force buried in this cemetery; six of them, including Abram, died of influenza in November 1918. Another man named on the Brooklyn memorial, William Henry McKenzie who died of influenza a week before Abram, is also buried in this cemetery.
A report in a local newspaper, Samoanische Zeitung, in Apia on 7 December, claimed the epidemic was practically over, and in their report of deaths, they gave a short pen-portrait of each of the seven men of the garrison who had died. Of Abraham they reported:
"He was of a quiet, amiable disposition, ever ready to give a helping hand where needed, and was very popular among his comrades."
Abraham’s Plaque and Scroll were sent to his father at The Retreat, Forster, NSW on 4 September 1922. His father received his British War medal in October 1923 at the same address.
Abraham’s brothers Harry and Thornton also served in the New Zealand Army and survived, Harry dying at age 89 in 1965 and Thornton in 1934 at age 46. Although none of the three lived in Brooklyn, they are all named on the Brooklyn war memorial, their names probably having been submitted by their brothers Walter, Ernest and/or Albert who with their families resided in and around the Brooklyn area.
Research conducted by Ann Walker
 Arthur (1866), Charles (1871), Robert Henry (Harry) (1876), Albert Amos (1877), Ernest (1880), Walter Andrew Forster (1881) and Thomas Percival Thornton (Thornton) (1883)
 About 12 kms to the east of Taihape, in the Rangitikiei district
 Charles was a labourer, Albert an engine driver, Ernest a storeman and Walter was a carter.
 Black Flu 1918: The story of New Zealand’s worst public health disaster, Geoffrey W. Rice, Canterbury University Press, 2017, p. 54