Ruth and Alexander

Lance Corporal Alexander John Grant, known as “Aldo” was born on 24/4/1890 and had lived in Earn Street Invercargill, New Zealand, working as a traveller or representative. He was well known in the rowing and rugby world.

At the beginning of WW1 he was drafted into the 2nd Battalion the Otago Infantry on 14 August 1914 as a Private. After the necessary initial training he embarked for the Dardanelles, via Alexandria, in April 1915. At some point he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

Very shortly after arriving there he was severely wounded in the neck and jaw and evacuated to the General Hospital in Alexandria in May of that year. When recovered sufficiently to be moved he embarked on the Hospital Ship Nevasa for England. Once there he wrote a moving letter, which we show, to his father Mr John Grant of Invercargill which vividly portrays not only his horrific injuries, but also the conditions the men endured on the battlefield. He tells his father that he anticipates returning to the Dardanelles, but as we know this didn’t happen. Alexander came to Mount Felix, met Ruth and, as they say, the rest is history!

He and Ruth would have had a very happy day in August 1915 when King George, Queen Mary and the Prince of Wales made a private visit to Mount Felix, speaking to each patient and taking tea on the lawns.

Following their wedding, Alexander and Ruth made the long journey to a new life together in New Zealand in November 1915. He was subsequently awarded The Military Medal for his bravery.

Ruth was the fourth of six children, 3 boys and 3 girls, born to Edward Hyacinth Thomas Rosewell and his wife Esther Margaret. They were a well established and close family in Halliford, both as boat builders and ferrymen, and also as licensed victuallers of The Red Lion public house.

Ruth’s grandfather Edward kept a diary about his daily life in Shepperton and this was published in 1907. We are told that he looked after the swans on the river.

Thomas Sedgewick Rosewell, born in 1798 was Ruth’s great great grandfather. He was also the grandfather of John Sedgewick Rosewell, born in 1861, who lived at the Old Manor House in Thames Street in Walton, also boat builders and innkeepers. They lived in the Old Manor House for four decades.

Ruth, as a young lady who lived locally, would have been invited to the newly opened Mount Felix Hospital. She would have been there to welcome the first exhausted wounded soldiers brought to England by dedicated hospital ships such as the “Marama”. It is said that this was early in 1915 when she was 19 years old.

There she met Lance Corporal Alexander Grant, we are told “over an ivy clad wall”, and their romance was swift and decisive. His recuperation must also have been speedy as the couple married on 6 October 1915 and within a few weeks, on 17 November, they had departed from Plymouth on the “Rhine” bound for Auckland New Zealand.