Anne Frandi-Coory’s maternal Italian great grandmother Raffaela Marisi Mansi Grego




Wow! That ‘Raffaela’s Last Dream’ in Dragons, Deserts and Dreams,   is just so, so beautiful, and I love it. But then again I love everything you do, my darling Anne. You have put me by her bedside. You have me holding and squeezing her hand as I read and hear her, drifting through the pages of her life, with all the love and emotion of a woman who knows she will soon be flying through heaven, alongside the author of all things in the universe.
For beautiful Raffaela has already experienced hell on earth. And I, the reader was there when it was all happening, so cleverly condensed in, ‘the present tense’. You’re such a great writer Anne, you always have the ability to stir up my emotions.
After I finished reading, in the dark now, I closed my eyes and wept and sobbed out loud, as I often do, when I awake from such dreams. Dreams I have of my grandmother, the one person who never stopped loving me.
Dreams, nowadays in my secret place I call ‘La La land’. A place I find myself a lot lately as my body too, is almost worn out. A place where I’m not really asleep, but then again I’m not altogether awake. All I have to do is remain quiet, usually in the afternoon, close my eyes as I rest alone on my sofa, and I’m there, in my beautiful ‘La La Land’, where anything can happen.
Thank you so very much for introducing me to your wonderful, courageous and most lovely, ‘Raffaela’ Anne, I am so grateful to find her at last. She, like you will remain forever with me, as I know I will never forget you both.

-Arabella Marx, @thatmarxtart Australia 2017

‘Raffaela’s Last Dream’ by Anne Frandi-Coory

From Dragons, Deserts and Dreams


Raffaela and Filippo Greco


More comments from Rita Roberts, Crete:

Rita Roberts: This is so beautiful Anne, Thank you for sharing.

Anne Frandi-Coory: Yes Rita, it’s a comment that really touches the heart strings…Arabella has since died as she was quite elderly when she wrote the comment. We followed each other on Twitter initially because we both liked reading similar books. And then she bought both my books: ‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’ and ‘Dragons, Deserts and Dreams’. RIP lovely Arabella Marx.

Rita: So nice she was in touch with you before she passed though, Anne.

Anne: Yes Rita, and I treasure the fact that Arabella connected with me and my writing…I do feel so humbled. She had a very sharp mind, with an erudition I envied. xx


Comment 1. received on my blog page ‘ My Life & Rhymes’ from Ian D Martyn 16 August 2019: 
Hi Anne,
‘Captain Ateo ‘Little Arthur’ Frandi’
Just stumbled across your 2014 article re the Long Service medal named to Ateo, found by Verna Crowley of Otaki.  . If you haven’t already been apprised of exactly what it is, I can tell you – I am in the FREE business of reuniting military medals with families:
The medal is the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal (CAFLSM).
The Volunteer Long Service Medal (VLSM) was instituted in 1894 as an award for long service by other ranks in the part-time Volunteer Force of the United Kingdom. In 1896, the grant of this medal was extended by Queen Victoria to members of Volunteer Forces throughout the British Empire and a separate new medal was instituted, the Volunteer Long Service Medal for India and the Colonies.
The CAFLSM was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1899 as a military long service award for part-time members of all ranks in any of the organised military forces of the British Colonies, Dependencies and Protectorates throughout the British Empire. The medal gradually superseded the Volunteer Long Service Medal for India and the Colonies in all these territories, with the exception of the Isle of Man, Bermuda and the Indian Empire.
In 1930, the CAFLSM along with the Volunteer Long Service Medal, the Volunteer Long Service Medal for India and the Colonies, the Militia Long Service Medal, the Special Reserve Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and the Territorial Efficiency Medal, were superseded by the Efficiency Medal in an effort to standardise recognition across the Empire.
The CAFLSM could be awarded for TWENTY years of service as a part-time member of any rank in any of the Colonial Auxiliary Forces. Qualifying service could be had by serving in the forces of more than one Colony or Protectorate. Service in the Militia and Volunteer Forces of the United Kingdom was also reckonable (added), so long as at least half of all qualifying service had been rendered in the forces of the Dominion, Colonies or Protectorates. Service on the West Coast of Africa counted as double time. Service on the permanent staff was not reckonable.
Officers holding the CAFLSM who were subsequently awarded the Colonial Auxiliary Forces OFFICERS’ DECORATION were not required to surrender the medal, but were not permitted to wear it any more until such time as the full periods of service required for both decoration and medal were completed.
On 25 January 1923, the Royal Warrant was amended in respect of part-time members who had actually served, or accepted the obligation of serving, beyond the boundaries of the Dominions, Colonies, Dependencies or Protectorates during the First World War. Service on the active list during WW1 was counted as DOUBLE when reckoning the qualifying service towards the requisite twenty years, whether such service was in the Naval Forces, Military Forces or Air Forces, e.g. 6mths on active list (not necessarily at war overseas) counted as 12mths qualifying service towards the 20 yrs required for the the award of the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal.
Kind regards
Ian – Medals Reunited New Zealand©
Thank you Ian, for taking the time to post this information on my blog. Ateo’s other descendants will be interested in learning more about his long service medal, especially his great nephew to whom I gave the medal. – Anne Frandi-Coory.


Comment  2. received on my blog page ‘My Life & Rhymes’ from Ian D Martyn 17 August 2019: 

My pleasure Anne. The era these medals were produced was a confusing one as there were a number that to the uninitiated appear to be the same among the 18 different long service medals issued by the UK and NZ between 1895-1940ish. There were four versions of Long Service medals of Ateo’s type alone that transitioned 3 sovereigns – Victoria, Edward VII and George V.

Ateo’s medal was the Edward VII version (apologies, I said Geo in the my previous comment) of which there were 2 types identified by the little claw that the ribbon suspender is attached to the medal by. There is a single-toe and a double double-toe claw – Ateo’s is the later. The sovereigns head (Victoria, Edward VI George V) was the only way to tell the difference as the wording on the other side was the same although ER VII words were set in an ornate frame on the medal.

The medal itself to a collector is quite valuable (in good condition with ribbon, NZ$350-$550) since most militia & volunteer medals only had a short life in medal terms before being transitioned either by amendments to their Royal Warrant, or by being made obsolete and replaced with a new award.

The Edward VII CAFLSM having a life of only 30yrs before it was made obsolete meant that Ateo had to be serving at least from 1910 otherwise he would have got the replacement award, the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers Decoration (OD).

If he did qualify for the OD, he would have had to remove the CAFLSM. (maybe the reason it was found?) We know Ateo was a Captain in 1911 so he would have had to serve at least until 1931 to get the OD, depending when he enlisted.
If no OD, all 20 qualifying years would have to have started at the latest by 1910.

The only way to know whether Ateo’s medal was obsolete or valid, is to know his enlistment date, length of service as a soldier/NCO, length of service as an officer, date he was commissioned, and his date of Discharge. Confused?



Not confused at all, Ian, and thanks once again. It does make sense as to why the medal was found in the collection of a non-relative. I know that Ateo was a military man through and through and although he was born in Italy, he was very loyal to New Zealand.

Anne Frandi-Coory



Captain Ateo Frandi 


Comment 3. received on my blog page ‘ My Life & Rhymes’ from Ian D Martyn 19 August 2019: 


Last comment Anne.
Ateo’s titles:
1891, Jan to 1911 >>> 179 Private to Sergeant – Wgtn City Volunteer Rifles; Zealandia Rifle Volunteers
1911 up to 18 Jan >>> 179 Colour Sergeant AGL Frandi – ‘G’ Company, 1st Battalion Wellington Rifles.
1911 from 19 Jan >>> 179 Captain AGL Frandi – 31st Company, Senior Cadets, the Office i/c YMCA Cadets, Wellington
1914 enlisted WW1 >> 10/1169 Captain AGL Frandi – 9th Company, Wellington Infantry Battalion, NZEF – 2nd Reinforcements
I have worked the medal stuff out … I first went through the military service files of all five Frandi brothers, all of whom served in WW1 with only Alfred Joseph serving during WW2 as well (and also his son Reginald but of course he was a generation later).
These gave me a good sense of what military service the family had been involved with however I found an additional file of Ateo’s in the NZ Archives which ran into 96 pages and gave me the answers I needed. The other useful clue was the photo on your blog of Ateo sitting wearing a sword and the date year 1912 which confirmed my findings.
In the photo Ateo is a Captain and is wearing two medals. 1912 is the year the NZ Volunteer Militia system transitioned to the NZ Territorial Force. Ateo had enlisted in the Wellington City (Volunteer) Rifles on 19 Jan 1891 as a Private. By Feb 1902 he was a Sgt and had completed 11yrs 41 days of “Efficient” volunteer service. To be passed as Efficient in any one year, a soldier had to attend so many training days and attend an annual camp, plus pass all the requisite skills required of them – then the could be recorded as being “Efficient”.
Accordingly, in 1903 Sgt Frandi was awarded the NZ Volunteer Service Medal (inst1902-1911, plain khaki ribbon) for completing 12 years of Efficient service. His next award came four years later in 1907 having completed 16 years of Efficient service. At that point he (still a Sergeant) the NZ Volunteer Long and Efficient Service Medal (inst 1887-1931, maroon ribbon with two central white stripes).
In 1911, having now completed 20 years and 15 days Efficient Volunteer & Territorial service, Ateo applies for the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal (CAFLSM) – it is approved. This medal replaced the 16 years NZ LESM in 1911.
The two medals Ateo is wearing in the photo (dated 1912) is the 12 year NZ VSM (plain khaki ribbon) and the 20 year CAFLSM (plain dark green ribbon). This is proven by the design on the back of the medal posted on your blog (GR VII version). I cannot see any particular reason why he should not also be wearing the 16 yr NZ LESM as well unless. That was 1907….
So – the question, where his NZ LESM (maroon/two white stripes) might be now?
It also means the CAFLSM that was found was NOT obsolete, it was a valid medal to be wearing until Ateo’s death.
In Mar 1910 Ateo, now a Colour Sergeant, transferred from the Wgtn City Rifles to the Zealandia Rifles Wgtn to start a new company of Cadets.
In Mar 1911 Ateo applies to be commissioned after 20 yrs of Volunteer service. This is where his file gets interesting. Ateo is commissioned in 1912 and almost immediately sits and passes his Captain’s promotion exam thereby confirming him in rank. Defence commissions a civilian (nil mil experience and not qualified by exam) also in the rank of Capt however with seniority for rank greater than Ateo’s! Result – to say Ateo is irate is an understatement as his file shows. Ateo resigns from the Volunteer Force after a flurry of public protestations. A public war of words erupts, covered in the NZ Times of the day (I guess even a man’s career wrangles with his boss was newsworthy in 1910s Wgtn).
Ateo writes to General Godley (head of NZ Military Forces then) …. the arguments for/against are all published in the newspapers ……… my take is that Ateo was technically in the right BUT, he was trying to overturn an entrenched Army policy …. junior officers’ never win those battles … you have to read his file to grasp it all (see NZ Times, see 20 Sep 1912) ….. The net result – Ateo publicly withdraws his resignation via public letter to Godley, and is reinstated.
Ateo enlists for WW1 NZEF service 12 Aug 1914 at Trentham – goes first to Egypt for training; on 25 Apr 1915 he is a “First Day Lander” with the Wellington Battalion at Gallipoli. Killed by a sniper leading an attack between 6 and 10 May 1915. (8th selected arbitrarily) – body not located.
For his service in WW1, although mother: Annunziata Frandi was NOK, medals were sent to sister Italia [Corich] at 16 Murphy Street, Thorndon, Wgtn. Italia was sent Ateo’s medals in 1922 as follows: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal 1914-18, Victory Medal. Italia also received Ateo’s Memorial Plaque & Scroll (sometimes called Death Plaque, Death Penny, Deadman’s Penny etc) and a Certificate of Service.
So, Ateo’s medal bar should have SIX medals on it. If you or others in your family are interested, Replica medals are available and can be worn as being representative of a deceased ancestor’s awards – they are permitted to be worn on Anzac Day and Armistice/Remembrance Day by descendant relatives (and …. there is no limit to the number of relatives who can wear a replica set of medals). I can help with this if interested.
In looking at the files of the brothers, I noted that three went to Gallipoli – Ateo, Alfred and Richard. Only two of these came home. In 1967, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli the Australian and NZ govts struck the ANZAC (Gallipoli) Commemorative Medallion. Eligibility for the plaque was for all living Gallipoli veterans, and the next of kin of those who were killed or who died within two years of leaving Gallipoli/returning home. Those Gallipoli veterans who returned alive also received a miniature version of the plaque with their service number on the back which was a lapel badge.
The unique thing about the plaque was that it had to be applied for – it was not automatically sent out to families (an impossible task 50 years after the landing anyway). This also allowed the plaques to be engraved with the soldiers name on the back. The medallion was not designed to be worn but comes in a black case and is a display piece.
Fifty years, on many veterans had died by 1967, or did not hear about the plaque’s availability, were not interested, families were not really aware they could claim for a dead family veteran. There were hundreds left in Defence, but after 100 yrs, all have now been disposed of. As a result of new claims being raised by descendants who have found they would have been entitled (were they alive) brand new ANZAC Plaques are being produced for descendants who are making valid and approved claims (when they hear about it – they do from me).
I have found no evidence on any of the eligible Frandi men’s files that their ANZAC Plaques have ever been claimed !! Normally there is a stamp on the top page of a file which is signed off and dated on the day the Plaque/lapel badge was issue – there is nothing.
So far I have arranged for the issue of 5 of these in the last two years that had never been claimed. So, as I see it this may be your lucky blog post. There are three ANZAC Plaques with the Frandi name on them if you want them – some proof of Ancestral connection is required of course, however I can talk you through the requirements and pass you the relevant applications if you are interested (providing they have not already been claimed of course?). Email me if you decide to pursue this and I can get the ball rolling.
Kind regards
I. D. Martyn
[Maj. Rtd – NZ Army]
Medals Reunited New Zealand©

Thanks once  again, Ian.  I have altered Italia’s name above; it was often spelled  incorrectly on official documents.

Ian, I have contacted my cousin to whom I gave Ateo’s medal and asked him if he would like to request the three unclaimed ANZAC Plaques. One of us will be in touch.

Kind Regards,


The following post about the life of Italia Frandi’s daughter Helena, is an excerpt taken from the…

1918 Influenza Karori Cemetery Project

Researched and written by Max Kerr and Jenny Robertson



WOODWARD, Helena Arethusa
Born July 1888; died 28 November 1918; buried 28 November 1918

Helena WOODWARD’s mother, Italia Maria FRANDI, was born in the Tuscan city of Pisa in 1869. 



Italia Maria Frandi (35 Years)


Italia was the second child and only daughter of Aristodemo and Annunziata Frandi (née FABBRUCCI) and had an older brother (Francesco Garibaldi, 1866), and a younger one (Ateo, 1873) born in Pisa before the family left Italy for the other side of the world:

Aristodemo Frandi blog

Aristodemo Frandi

Annunziata Frandi

Annunziata Fabbrucci Frandi









“The Frandi family travelled to New Zealand on an assisted passage upon the steamship Gutenberg, which left Livorno, Toscano Coast, Italy, on 15 December 1875 and arrived in Wellington, on the North Island of New Zealand, on 23 March 1876. From there they travelled by ship to Jackson Bay on the west coast of the South Island and then on to the Special Settlement’ at Okuru…….”

…From Anne Frandi-Coory’s book Whatever Happened to Ishtar? A Passionate Quest to Find Answers for Generations of Defeated Mothers pp. 279-280. (2010). Anne Frandi-Coory is a great-niece of Helena….

While living in the Okuru Settlement Aristodemo built a hut for his family to live in and Annunziata gave birth to two more sons, Italo Giovanni in 1877 and Antonio Raffaelo in 1878. When the Okuru settlement failed the family moved to Wellington, where Annunziata gave birth to four more sons: Enrico Carlo in 1880, Benito Ranieri in 1883 (lived for three months), Alfredo Guiseppe (my grandfather) in 1884 and Giovanni (stillborn) in 1887.”


Aristodemo appeared on the 1896 Wellington electoral roll as a fishmonger with premises in Molesworth Street, a business that he continued for at least 15 years.

Italia Frandi married on Christmas Day 1886 in what was then known as St Mary’s Cathedral, Hill Street (i), when she was 18. Her husband, John CARRENGE/CURRANGE, originally KARENTZE, was also a native of Pisa who had migrated to New Zealand. It appears that he was of Greek heritage and was employed as a wharf labourer. The couple had a daughter in 1888, registered with the name Ellen Harriet but from at least the time she was enrolled for school, she was known formally as Helena Arethusa and within the family and at school, usually as Lena.  A son, named Aristidemo Leo, was also born to the marriage in 1890 but died at 7 months old around February 1891.

Lena grew up in Thorndon, attending Thorndon School from 1896 until 1901, when according to her school record she left on ‘doctor’s orders’. The family lived either in the same or adjoining houses with Italia’s parents and some of Lena’s uncles in Murphy Street or Wingfield Street (a narrow street that used to run off Molesworth Street towards Murphy Street, alongside what is now the National Library). This would have been a convenient location for Lena, close to school, handy for her grandfather working at his fish shop, and convenient also for her father working on the wharves.


16 Murphy St Fernglen

‘Fernglen’ – 16 Murphy Street Wellington

As a young girl, however, Lena may have witnessed scenes of domestic violence. In April 1900, Lena’s mother appeared before the divorce court seeking a dissolution of her marriage on grounds of cruelty and drunkenness.  Lena’s father had deserted his family some 6 weeks earlier (ii).  The Evening Post reported (on 9 April 1900) that almost from the start of the marriage, Italia’s husband ‘had given way to drink’ and that he had frequently ill-treated her.  When she had remonstrated with him, he told her to clear out. The judge granted a decree nisi.

In the following year, Italia married a second time. Her new husband was Peter CORICH, a seaman of Austrian descent who had come to New Zealand in about 1885 and who was naturalised in 1899. The new couple had a daughter, Elvira Maria, known as Vera, in 1902.


Elvira and Helena on the right, dressed in clothes designed and made by their mother Italia

In 1889 (iii) Italia had established a dressmaking business to support herself, working from home, and around the time of the divorce she was advertising for ‘improvers’ (or apprentice workers or more likely, beginners) as well as a girl for housework. With the business being run from home, it is likely that Lena would have made herself useful with small sewing tasks and creative uses of fabric from an early age. Peter Corich died in 1906 and was buried in the Catholic section of Karori Cemetery. It was fortunate therefore that the enterprising Italia had developed her own income-generating business.

When she left school, Lena found work in a related occupation, as a milliner. She was employed by Cenci’s, primarily a millinery establishment when it was founded in about 1900 in premises in Vivian Street, but business growth over the next few years led to a broadening of its range to ladies’ outfitting in general and relocation to new premises at the corner of Lambton Quay and Panama Street. In 1905, at the firm’s annual picnic, Lena was reported to be the winner of the 440 yards handicap race for junior millinery hands (New Zealand Times 18 March 1905).

On 7 October of that year, Lena married Frank Hubert WOODWARD in St Paul’s Cathedral. The Social Gossip column in the Free Lance (3 November 1916) reported on the wedding. Lena wore ‘a pretty cream gabardine suit, with a wide Leghorn hat’ (that is, one made of fine plaited bleached straw), and her sister Elvira acted as bridesmaid. The paper added:

The bride is a niece of the late Captain Frandi (iv)who was last year killed at Gallipoli. She has many other relatives whose names are on the Roll of Honour, and some of whom have made the supreme sacrifice. Naturally, the luncheon after the wedding in the Rose Tea Rooms was of a very quiet kind, only relatives and very intimate friends being present (v).

Lena’s husband Frank was the eldest son of Helen and Charles Woodward, then living in Ellice Street, Mount Victoria. Like Lena, Frank was aged 28 when they married. Born in Lewisham, London, he migrated with his parents after serving with the East Surrey Regiment in 1904–05 and joined the Zealandia Rifles, one of the volunteer groups set up during the 1900s. At the beginning of 1914 he wrote to the Army District Headquarters in Palmerston North seeking a place on a course for aviation instructors, explaining that had studied the principles of ‘mechanical flight’ and as an amateur pilot had experience with two types of monoplane. It is not clear what came of this request, but in September 1914 he attested in Awapuni with the Main Body of the NZEF. In March of the following year he was transferred back to the District as unfit for camp duty. He re-attested in Trentham on 2 October 1916 and embarked for Plymouth (England) later that month, less than 2 weeks after his marriage. He served in Europe until his discharge in April 1918 when he was deemed no longer physically fit for war service because of ‘defective vision’. He was then taken on the strength of the Wellington Military District as Area Sergeant-Major and so continued to serve as a soldier.

Not long after Frank’s return Lena became pregnant and on 26 November 1918 she gave birth to a premature daughter, whom they named Helena, but the infant lived for just 6 hours. Lena was probably already sick with influenza and she died 2 days later, on 28 November, at the age of 30. Lena and Frank were living with her mother Italia in Murphy Street, Thorndon, at the time. Lena and her daughter were both buried on the same day, 28 November, in plot 142E in the Anglican section at Karori Cemetery. The headstone on Lena’s grave incorporates a Latin quotation ‘Anchoram habeus animae tutam ac firman’ (translated as ‘The anchor we have of the soul, safe and firm’) based on Hebrews 6:19 about the central importance of hope.


Read more about Helena here in the original

1918 Influenza Karori Cemetery Project


Anne blog

Author Anne Frandi-Coory


In 2010 I wrote a book ‘Whatever Happened to Ishtar?’ – A memoir and family history told in two books entitled  ‘Italian Connections’  ‘Lebanese Connections’ … My Catholic childhood filled with fear, abuse, and gross neglect.

“Give me a child for seven years and I will give you the [woman]”

Anne in convent clothes

Anne Frandi-Coory at 8 years of age – just removed from Mercy Orphanage for the Poor in Dunedin



The theme running through the book relates to my passionate quest to find answers for generations of defeated mothers on both sides of my family tree. It’s about the brutal men in their lives, the endless pregnancies, and the women’s strict adherence to CathoIicism. In the end, the patriarchal Catholic Church betrayed their trust. Would Ishtar the Babylonian goddess have been a better role model and protector of female rights than the Virgin Mary turned out to be?

I know that in my mother’s case, if she had sought help from professionals rather than endlessly praying to her imaginary god, her life would have been far different.

I now live in Melbourne with my partner, Paul.


Julia Grego Smith was my grandmother Maria Grego Frandi’s younger sister. The following post was written by Julia’s grandson, Larry Smith. 18 October 2015.

Images and text copyright to Anne Frandi-Coory All Rights Reserved 18 October 2015.


Julia and Herbert Smith

Julia and Herbert Smith (image: Larry Smith)


Julia Grego married Herbert (Minto) Smith of Great Hockham, Norfolk in 1920 at the Church of the Holy Rood in Watford town centre – after Minto’s return from First World War service in the Middle East. On the marriage certificate, Minto is described as a 25-year-old bachelor and engineer’s fitter of 31 Ashley Road, Watford; and Julia as a 20-year-old spinster of 193 St Albans Road, Watford. Her father was Filippo Grego, a greengrocer. Their witnesses were Edward F. Didd and Filippo Grego (who signed with a mark). Both of Julia’s parents, Raffaela and Filippo Grego were illiterate.

Minto’s father and grandfather were agricultural labourers.  At the age of 19 Minto enlisted in the 4th battalion of the Norfolk Regiment in Norwich in September 1914. The battalion was training at Colchester, but in May 1915 it moved to Watford, which is when Minto met Julia. Unfortunately we have no stories about how they happened to meet.

Minto’s battalion was deployed to the Mediterranean in July 1915 and landed at Suvla Bay, on the Gallipoli peninsula, on August 10 – some months after the initial ANZAC landings in April. The entire Gallipoli campaign against the Turks was a failure, with almost 400,000 casualties on both sides. All Allied forces were withdrawn by late December 1915. However, in early December Minto had contracted typhoid and was evacuated back to England. After a year’s convalescence he was deployed to Egypt in January 1917 and was wounded in the second battle of Gaza. He was later posted to garrison duties in Egypt and ended the war as an acting sergeant.

After being demobilised at Purfleet in Surrey in July 1919, he headed for Watford to meet up with Julia again. After their wedding, Minto and Julia lived in Watford for a time and he worked for Filippo Grego briefly in the fish and chip shop. They moved around a bit before settling in Ashford, Middlesex in about 1939. At various times he was a chauffeur, drove a hearse and worked in a diesel engine factory. Julia and Minto eventually had two sons, Douglas and Roy.

Douglas enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment in 1939 and was deployed to North Africa in 1942, serving in Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Italy. After the war he spent two years in New Zealand as an approved migrant under the assisted immigration scheme, but returned to England in 1954 and married Valerie Diamond (d. 2010) in 1956.They produced no children.

Julia’s younger son, Roy, enlisted in the Royal Air Force and was posted to the Bahamas, where he married Barbara Malone, a Bahamian, on Harbour Island in December 1944. Barbara was the eldest daughter of district commissioner Ronald Malone (originally of Hope Town, Abaco) and Una Higgs (of Spanish Wells, Eleuthera). Roy and Barbara Smith went on to have two children – Larry and Luanne.

The Bahamas had been a British Crown colony since 1718, and it was the chosen place of exile for the ex-King (the Duke of Windsor) who was appointed governor for the duration of the war. Nassau (the capital) was used by the RAF as a training base for bomber crews, flying twin-engine Mitchell B-25’s and four-engine Liberator B-24’s.

Leading aircraftman Roy Smith was posted to the RAF’s No. 250 Air-Sea Rescue Unit. Equipped with motor torpedo boats, their function was to rescue the crews of aircraft which came down at sea (about four or five a year), to co-operate with naval forces in the area hunting German submarines, and to tow bombing targets. Some 3,000 British and Canadian personnel were stationed in The Bahamas during the war.

There were no hostilities near the islands, so operational flying training could be undertaken safely, and there was good flying weather year-round. The location also enabled Canadian personnel to crew up with their RAF counterparts. After training at Nassau, many crews would join 45 Air Transport Group to ferry aircraft across the Atlantic for active service.

Roy was transferred back to England in early 1945, and Barbara followed him a few weeks after VE day via train from Miami and convoy from New York. They returned to Nassau in 1948 where Roy helped start a wholesale business.The Bahamas had a population of about 70,000 back then.

In 1955, after the wholesale business foundered, my parents, Roy and Barbara moved back to Britain with their two young children, running a succession of small shops around London. But during a family reunion in Nassau in December 1961, they decided to return to The Bahamas for good. Roy eventually became manager of a large car dealership called Nassau Motor Company, which holds the Honda and General Motors franchises for The Bahamas. He retired in 1985 to Spanish Wells, where he still lives today. Barbara died in December 2011 at the age of 84 from complications due to a ruptured appendix..

Barbara’s paternal line descends from the widow of a loyalist militiaman from South Carolina, who moved to the Bahamas after the American Revolution. Her maternal line traces back to the Eleutherian Adventurers, Puritans who settled The Bahamas in 1648 from Bermuda.

Julia was born 25 February  1900 in Watford and died 18 June 2000 at a nursing home in Ashford. Douglas Percival was born in 1921 and died in January 2012 at a nursing home in Egham. Minto was born in 1895 and died at his home in Ashford in 1981.

-Larry Smith


Roy Smith's RAF crashboat

RAF Crash Boat Roy Smith served on during the war (image: Larry Smith)







early 19C parliament buildings Nassau

Early 19th Century Parliament buildings in downtown Nassau on a Sunday minus traffic. Statue of Queen Victoria resides over the town square (image: Larry Smith)



Julia’s sister Barbara Grego Johnson and brother  Joseph Grego double wedding.  

(image:Larry Smith)

Rear L to R: Filippo Grego, bride Floss’s brother, Jessie Grego with baby, bridegroom Joseph Grego, ?, bridegroom Laurie Johnson, Julia Grego, ?, Laurie Johnson’s father.

Front L to RPhilomena (Emmie) Grego, Raffaela Grego, bride Floss, bride Barbara Grego, Laurie Johnson’s mother, Lillie Grego.


Read More about the Grego family – Our Family Tree

All images and text on this page are Copyright To Anne Frandi-Coory

All Rights Reserved 10 August 2015


REGINALD ALFRED FRANDI 1919 – 1975: They Built Them Tough In Those Days.


Reg Frandi on the left of photo

Before he fought in the Second World War, my maternal uncle Reginald (Reg) Frandi trained as a fitter and turner at Cable Price. However, he returned from the war with very serious injuries and had to stay in Wellington hospital for quite some time, after which he was transferred to Rotorua for a long period of rehabilitation. He was advised to work out in the open air as he had spent three to four years in the desert during the war which left him with long term adverse effects on his lungs and stomach.


Reg Dawn wedding

Reg and Dawn Frandi (20 June 1945)


When he had regained his health and strength, Reg decided he wanted to become a farm cadet and was subsequently placed on a farm which was situated about 30 miles from Gisborne. It was on this farm that he eventually met his future wife, Dawn Marguarite Kelly. They were married on 20 June 1945 after dating for only three months. Subsequently they found work at Tawhareparae, about one and a half hour’s drive from Gisborne. After working there for a short time, they moved to Whatatutu, roughly two hours drive from Gisborne. At that time, the roads were all unsealed so they had to have a safe, reliable car.


Reg Frandi

Reg really enjoyed farming and eventually he was sent to Wanganui River to work for the Maori Affairs Department. This was a great challenge for him because he had to clear and break in the allocated land, to make it suitable   for sustainable farming. There was no reticulated hot water, so it had to be heated on a wood stove. He was a good rugby player and was adopted by local Maori as one of their own. In fact his whole family was very highly respected in the area. After about ten years, Reg and Dawn decided to move with their children back to Gisborne to live where Reg had a complete change of employment.


Friends of the couple had opened up a quarry in Patutahi and Reg agreed to work for them. He was a very clever and able man who could turn his hand to anything and according to his daughter, Michelle, he was busy almost daily   fixing and repairing this or that. During his years working at the quarry he was to prove to his family time and again just how strong he was in dealing with severe pain. He suffered many injuries such as being crushed by rocks, breaking his jaw and eye socket and even losing some teeth!  When he lost fingers in a crusher, he went home to Dawn and asked her to bandage his hand. On another occasion when he suffered severe injuries, he was admitted to hospital for four days and hated every minute of it.

Michelle relates the story about the time her father complained that he couldn’t get his boot off. They took him to the doctor and it transpired that his foot was broken and had to be encased in plaster; he had been walking around on it for three weeks! Reg then insisted on being fitted for a walking boot so he could get back to work! It’s reminiscent to me of Colin ‘Pinetree’ Meads who played a rugby test match for the All Blacks with a broken arm! They certainly built them tough in those days on the North Island of New Zealand.

Reg and Dawn built a house down the road from the quarry where Reg established a huge vegetable garden with “every vegetable you can imagine” thriving there. Michelle recalls that they all had to help in the planting of potatoes and then when they were ready, help to dig and pick them up. She says that as children they weren’t too happy about it, but upon reflection, they were good times for the family.


Reg & Marguerite

Reg and Marguarite


Apparently Reg was a great reader who once a month drove the whole family into town to visit the library, and afterwards out to dinner. He would take out five to ten books and read them all within a matter of days. He insisted that everyone choose books to take home because he wanted them to learn as much as he had from books. Reg didn’t earn much money, so they couldn’t afford to buy furniture. Instead, “he spent hours building little things for us, as well as tables, chairs, and beds.”

During summer months he would ask Dawn to pack a picnic dinner to take to the beach so that the family could all go surf casting; all had their own lines.  They would stay until it got too dark to see. Relatives had a holiday house at Ohope Beach, something like three hour’s drive north of Gisborne, where they often holidayed, sometimes for up to four weeks. Reg absolutely loved it there, and spent the time pottering about, fishing and reading. Reg and Dawn  had a very happy and fulfilled marriage, which was sadly cut short when Reg was killed in a quarry accident.

Michelle wrote in her letter that family was very  important to her dad, and it was what had made their lives so special:

He was a wonderful father, always had time for his family, and showed a deep sense of pride in all of us. This seemed strange to me as he had very little contact with his extended family, but I guess he had his reasons. Dad didn’t like lies and he didn’t expect anyone else to lie. He didn’t suffer fools; if he didn’t like someone or something, he would tell you.  My father didn’t drink much alcohol, and if he went out with mates, he always came home sober. He had a sweet tooth, loved chocolate, and when mum stewed fruit for dessert, he always added a lot more sugar.


Marguerite Reg Katrina Dawn Michelle Kelly

L to R: Marguarite, Reg, Katrina, Dawn, Michelle, Kelly


Reg helped to build St George’s Anglican church in Patutahi, but tragically he died before he could see it completed. His love of working at the Patutahi Quarry cost him his life. He was crushed to death when a tractor rolled on him.

Dad had the biggest hands; hands of a man who had had to work hard for everything in his life. Though a gentle man in many ways, he did lose his temper occasionally, but he got over it quickly, almost as soon as he had lost it. He taught us children so many great values in life, which in turn has helped us immensely to deal with whatever life might bring. We never wanted for anything when we were growing up. We weren’t spoilt, and learned from dad that nothing in life is free.

Michelle goes on to tell me that it would have broken Reg’s heart if he’d lived to witness the deaths, so early in their lives, of two of his daughters, Marguarite at 51 years and Katrina at 45years. Both Marguarite and Katrina died from cancer. Dawn lived on for another 30 years after Reg died, and never re-married. They had one son, Kelly.


Keith  18 Michelle  45 Bruce Matthew 14

Keith, Michelle, Bruce and Matthew Downie

Information contained in this Short Life Story was contributed by Reg Frandi’s youngest daughter Michelle Elizabeth Downie, in a letter she wrote to her cousin Anne Frandi-Coory in July 2005. Images: Parkhill Collection.

This page, including text and images, is Copyright To Anne Frandi-Coory
All Rights Reserved 6 August 2015
Excerpts from a letter sent  to Anne Frandi-Coory by Sister Bernadette Mary, Archivist
Home of Compassion, Island Bay Wellington, New Zealand.

February 2002

Dear Anne

In response to your enquiry about the time your mother spent as a novice with the Sisters of Compassion, the following is what I have found in the Convent’s Register:

Your mother was 19 years old when she entered the Convent at Island Bay on the 7th December 1939 as a postulant. This is a kind of probationary period to find out whether or not a person is suited to the religious life. There was a separate wing set out as the Novitiate in the red brick building which had been built in the early 1930s, and was where all the novices were trained.


Novitiate Home of Compassion

Sisters of Compassion Convent (Image and text Sister Bernadette Mary)


A note made four months later, in April 1940, reveals that the Novice Mistress found Doreen to be a very highly strung person, but her manner was always pleasant. By July, Doreen always seemed to be worried about her family at home, especially her mother. However, she wanted to become a novice and looked forward to her reception into the Novitiate, the next stage of training to be a Sister of Compassion.

In July Doreen had to write to the Superior General asking to be admitted into the Novitiate, and giving her reasons for wanting to do so; that is the usual procedure. Apparently she was formally accepted, for on 15th  September  1940 she was received as a novice, together with four other young women. She was given the name Sister Mary Martina.


Home of Compassion

Postulants wore a black dress, cape and hat, Novices in white veils as on the front left of photo.  Sisters’ habits were navy blue with  light blue piping. (Image: Sister Bernadette Mary)


We all had to go through the same kind of training that Doreen would have had during her postulancy and Novitiate days, and although looking back, things were hard, we were never unhappy or abused in any way. Most of the time we were kept very busy indeed, either working in the laundry or caring for the babies and children, which didn’t give us much free time for idleness, I can tell you from experience.


Original Home of Compassion

(Image and text: Sister Bernadette Mary)


At the age of twenty Doreen requested to go home and subsequently left the Convent on 16th November 1940. There are no further comments in the Register. Any medical records were returned to Doreen when she left and there is no record of her being sick or having a nervous breakdown during her eleven months at the Convent.

I believe that Doreen often came to visit the Sisters after she had left the Sisters of Compassion. She rode out to the Convent on her bicycle which she had named ‘Martina’.

Yours Sincerely

Sister Bernadette Mary


Doreen & friend

Anne Frandi-Coory’s mother Doreen on right of photo (Image: Parkhill Collection)


The old Home of Compassion and Convent were demolished in the 1980s.

Read More: Letters To Anne Frandi-Coory

%d bloggers like this: