Ernest Carr was born in Palmerston North, on 29 October 1893, third and youngest son of William and Sarah Jane (nee Bright) Carr. Sarah later married Richard Hart and she is named in her sons’ army records as Mrs R Hart.
The family subsequently moved back to Nelson and in his teens Dar, as he became known to his children and grandchildren, completed an apprenticeship as a wheelwright with J.F. Papps of Richmond.
Carr volunteered for service a few days after war was declared and left New Zealand in October with the ‘Main Body’. He left New Zealand as a private in Nelson Company’s 9 Platoon.
The full biography for Ernest includes a transcript of his 1915 diary and is a record of his time in Egypt and on the Gallipoli Peninsular from January to December, as part of 12th (Nelson) Company. He saw action at the Suez Canal on 2 February, 1915 when12th (Nelson) Company were among the first New Zealanders involved in a major action in World War 1. He landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, he survived and left Gallipoli as an acting Corporal in the Machine Gun Section of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion.
Dar survived the entire Gallipoli campaign unwounded, though not without getting ill, and was there until the evacuation of allied forces in December. This was pretty unusual because of the high casualty and sickness rates and the poor diet.
As New Zealand military historian Chris Pugsley (1998) notes, of the New Zealanders who served at Gallipoli, “only a very small percentage saw service in France and Palestine and these were mainly men of the later reinforcements”. Our grandfather was one of this “small percentage”, and one of very few to serve for the whole of the Gallipoli campaign, see action in France and survive the war. In January Dar was transferred to No. 2 Company of the newly-formed New Zealand Machine Gun Corps (NZMGC) and was almost immediately promoted to sergeant. In early April he went to France as part of the NZ Division where he was badly wounded at the Somme on 20 September. He was shipped to England on 25 September and hospitalised at No.1 NZ General Hospital, Brockenhurst (near Southampton), one of over 1300 New Zealand soldiers admitted to this hospital that month. Dar’s oldest brother, William Allan, a gunner with the NZ Field Artillery, spent some time at Gallipoli and was killed in action at the Somme on 7 October.
Dar’s 1917 diary does exist and it relates to his time in England as an instructor with the NZMGC based at Grantham in Lincolnshire. Brother Edward (Ted) also served in the NZMGC but survived the war, despite being gassed in France in June 1917 (presumably at Messines).
On returning from the war Dar married Norah Lammas (nee Norah Muller Hart), a widow with two young daughters, Dorrie (married Ray Beddow) and Phyl (married Jack Trainor). Two more daughters were born in 1919 and 1921: Sadie (married Pat Sharpin) and Patricia (married/divorced Lyall Andrew; married Keith Kitchin).