Tale of the tunic

A MYSTERIOUS World War II tunic discovered in the roof space of an Inglewood home has sparked a fascinating historical investigation.

“As we were renovating that space, we had to take the ceiling down,” Courtney Kemp from Ta-Da Transformations told the Voice.

“This thing fell on our head—it was a dusty old tunic.”

When the company started the renovations, they received a letter from Kay Sleith, the granddaughter of Frederick Winstone Sr who built the weatherboard cottage on Ninth Avenue in 1923.

• Natalie and Courtney Kemp with the old tunic. Photos by Steve Grant

Papers

Ms Sleith had grown up in the house and her letter read “the floorboards have gaps and I often wondered if any family photos or papers had fallen down the cracks.

“I would love to have them if any have been found”.

She also sent a photo of Frederick Winstone Sr in uniform.

It was a puzzle: the tunic that fell out of the ceiling had World War II buttons on it, but the picture of Frederick Winstone Sr looked from an earlier era.

We asked militaria expert Jamie Blewitt, from JB Military Antiques, to have a look at the photo, and he confirmed it was a WWI coat.

• A Great War-era photo of Frederick Winstone Sr.

He said it was likely that the photographer had kept the coat in his studio to put on the many soldiers coming to have their photo taken, as was common in the day.

Ms Kemp did some more digging and contacted Mr Winstone Sr’s granddaughter again.

She found out Frederick Winstone Snr was indeed in World War I, and had been sent home after being shot in the face, and went on to build the Ninth Avenue home.

His son Frederick Winstone Jr was also a soldier during the 1930s, but the tunic itself belonged to his nephew Leslie Piper, a World War II veteran who would later live in the same home.

Remembrance Day

Ms Kemp is now organising to meet up with Ms Sleith to return the coat to the family.

Ms Sleith also told Ms Kemp that they’d also been to the house when their grandfather passed away, and had found a German war helmet on the back door step, which they donated to a museum.

• A sole poppy flowered at the Ninth Avenue house.

Ms Kemp tells us “another funny thing happened on Remembrance Day: one singular poppy came up, even though we have never planted poppies there before.”

She says “in honour of Mr Winstone and to respect the story and history of the home we named the home ‘Winstone Cottage’ after him so that this will always be his home and so he will he remembered for years to come.”

by DAVID BELL

One response to “Tale of the tunic

  1. Poppy seeds need Oxygen to activate them. So that one has had its seed exposed from underground. That is what made all the poppies grow in WWI when bombs and shells turned the ground upside down.

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