Anzac Day: Parishioner killed by friendly fire

Holy Trinty Church Reverend Liz Cheyne alongside a plaque which commenorates Ivan C de la Mare, a former parishoner at the church, who died while a prisoner of war in 1941 at sea.

A FORMER Holy Trinity Church parishioner in Windsor is remembered with a wall plaque, which acknowledges his death as a prisoner of war at sea.

Reverend Liz Cheyne said many parishioners remembered the De La Mare family.

“The De La Mares had been a part of the church family from the early days until recently.”

When she was a girl and as a young married woman, Rev Cheyne recalled Ivan’s mother, who lived in Windsor, worshipping at the church. His brother, Bill was the church’s sacrosent (a person who looked after the altar) for many years, and a number of other close relations were former parishioners.

Part of the plaque states “Ivan C De La Mare, Lost at sea while prisoner of war, August 17th, 1941. A server in this church.” Although the plaque said the year was 1941, his army records and other historical records state 1942.

Lance Corporal De La Mare served during World War 2 with the New Zealand Corps of Signals, as a signalman. It was while serving in the desert campaign in Libya, he was taken prisoner to a prisoner of war (POW) transit camp in Benghazi before being transported to an Italian POW camp.

On August 16, 1942, Mr De La Mare, along with 2920 allied troops, including more than 160 New Zealanders, were crammed into the Italian cargo vessel Nino Bixio with the intention of sailing to Italy. It had been used to transport war supplies for the German North African campaign, but on the return journey to Italy, it was transporting POWs, without displaying any signals or markings to indicate this.

This meant they would be recognised as an enemy vessel and an attempt could be made to sink it. The next day, just before the ship reached its destination, the Nino Bixio was sighted by the British submarine HMS Turbulence and as a result two torpedoes were fired into the ship. More than 200 men were killed, and many wounded.

Mr De La Mare was also commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, El Alamein War Cemetery, in Egypt. He was 26 years old. As it was Anzac Day on Sunday, a Peace Eucharist will be held at Holy Trinity Church, King St, Windsor, beginning at 9.30am. The service will be acknowledged with prayers and a candle display, and instead of a sermon, Rev Liz Cheyne will read a poem. Everyone was welcome.

  • Additional information from Russell Winter’s article