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Solve a WWII mystery

Solve a WWII mystery

Mon, 18 Apr 2016

100 years on from the first ANZAC Day commemorations, Auckland War Memorial Museum is working with the Israeli Ambassador Yosef Livne on a quest to find a mystery fallen New Zealand WWII Serviceman. 

Mr Livne has a particular passion around the story which he discovered in a book written by an Israeli soldier in the British Army, Moshe (Moses) Mosenzon: Letters from the Desert - A Story of Friendship.

In the book Mosenzon tells the story of his friendship with a New Zealand soldier whose last name was 'Tate'. The solder was apparently killed in the battle of El Alamein. It is the mystery surrounding this New Zealand soldier which Mr Livne is hoping can be solved with the help of Auckland Museum supporters and the historical research community.

The facts to date

The book cites eight letters referencing the Kiwi solider ‘Tate’ along with quotes from a letter received by the author from Tate’s mother ‘Eleanor’ who may have run a boarding house in Northland during the war.

"We’ve been looking into the records but unfortunately the research only yielded a Tait in Fleet Air Armoury and a Tate in the Royal Airforce," says Auckland Museum Online Cenotaph Database Coordinator, Victoria Passau. "Neither of these men died in the Middle East or had a mother named Eleanor. We also found some British Taits and Tates who were buried or commemorated at El Alamein War Cemetery but they were definitely not New Zealanders."

"We’ve been regularly checking our Online Cenotaph to see if a member of the public has updated or amended a service record that may not have come up in our earlier. Sadly this has not generated any further information."

How you can help

Auckland Museum would like amateur historians, researchers and the public to get involved in trying to identify ‘Soldier Tate’ so we can reunite him with his family.

We would love to hear from anyone who had a New Zealand-born male relative stationed in Trans-Jordan in October to December of 1941, who:

  • was killed approximately 1 year later around September or October 1942 in North Africa at the Battle of El Alamein;
  • may have a had someone in his family circle called Eleanor / Eileen / Leonore Tate with a daughter called Jean or Jeanie.

Resources for public investigation

While we continue to check He toa tamata rau - Auckland Museum Online Cenotaph for information on 'Soldier Tate', the following archives could be a starting point for further research:

Found something?

Every piece of information, big or small, can contribute to solving the 'Soldier Tate' mystery. Contact the Online Cenotaph team:

Phone: +64 9 309 0443 ext 7019

Email the Online Cenotaph team

  • Post by: Auckland Museum

    Auckland War Memorial Museum tells the story of New Zealand, its people, and their place in the Pacific.