Topic: Eric William Henry Muir (1914-2004)
Born in 1914, Eric William Henry Muir (known as Peter) signed up for World War II as a Lance Bombardier with the 7th New Zealand Anti-Tank Regiment. He was captured in Greece, being reported wounded on 24 April 1941 then reported as a POW on 12 September. In 1943 he wrote a poem home from Stalag 18A to his younger sister Mary. Muir was held as a POW for four years until the end of the war. He arrived in Italy after his release in May 1945. It is assumed that he was in poor shape as from his arrival in New Zealand on 5 September 1945 his war record notes that he was in New Plymouth Hospital until his discharge on 12 December 1945. Peter was my Great Uncle - Debbie McCauley (2014).
Eric William Henry Muir was born on 6 May 1914 to Frederick James and Leah Muir (nee Tebbutt) who married in 1903 (reg. 1903/4071). He was one of eight children and was always known as Peter:
- Frederick Ronald Muir (1904-1970). Born in New Zealand on 22 December 1904 (reg. 1905/8232). In 1934 he married Isobel Evelyn Chapman. Frederick died, aged 65, on 29 October 1970 (reg. 1970/37180).
Beryl Ena Muir (1907-1992). Born in New Zealand on 9 June 1907 (reg. 1907/15405). In 1931 (reg. 1931/7859), Beryl married Roy Claude Leslie. She died in 1992 (reg. 1992/55260).
Leah Thelma Muir (1909-1990). Born in New Zealand on 23 September 1909 (reg. 1909/26497). She married Cedric John Gardner. Leah died in Hawera on 25 January 1990 (reg. 1990/28817).
Catherine Elizabeth Muir (1911-1938). Born in New Zealand in 1911 (reg. 1911/1908). She married John Crocker Revell in 1931 (reg. 1931/7871). Catherine died, aged 26, in 1938 (reg. 1938/22441).
Mavis Tebbutt Muir (1913-2002). Born in New Zealand on 29 May 1913 (reg. 1913/7847). She married Eric James Harkness in 1937. Mavis died in New Plymouth on 17 March 2002 (reg. 2002/6208). She was buried in Awanui Cemetery.
Eric William Henry Muir (1914-2004). Born in New Zealand on 6 May 1914 (reg. 1914/15989) and known as 'Peter'. He married Mildred Ruby Garmonsway on 27 August 1953. Peter died on 15 May 2004 (reg. 2004/11059).
- Gilbert Tebbutt Muir (1917-1999). Born in New Zealand on 14 October 1917. He died on 29 June 1999 (reg. 1999/12950).
Mary Tebbutt Muir (1920-2008). Born in New Zealand on 2 April 1920. She married James Patrick Bryant in 1943. Mary died in 2008 (reg. 2008/18465).
Peter had the misfortune to be captured in 1941 in Greece whilst a Lance Bombardier with the 7th New Zealand Anti-Tank Regiment (Army Number: 22788). According to his war record Muir was wounded on 24 April 1941, reported missing, then listed as recuperating at Kokkinia Hospital. On 12 September 1941 he is reported as a POW (No. 4293) in Stalag 18A.
Two years later he wrote this poem to his younger sister Mary from the prison camp:26 - 9 - 1943 Dear Mary, Two years have gone bythey passed mighty sloweach year seems a centurywith the last one to go I’ve counted my footstepsI’ve counted the starsI’ve counted a millionthrough these prison bars This is my story ofheart-aches and sighsfor I’m longing for homeand southern sky’s Kia Ora, Pete.
Muir’s poem comprises three stanza’s consisting of four lines each and is written in an ABCB or iambic tetrameter rhyme scheme, the second line of which rhymes with the fourth line, but the first and third lines remaining unrhymed.
Muir was held as a POW for four years until the end of the war. He arrived in Italy after his release in May 1945. It is assumed that he was in poor shape as from his arrival in New Zealand on 5 September 1945 his war record notes that he was in New Plymouth Hospital until his discharge on 12 December 1945.
He married Mildred Ruby Garmonsway on 27 August 1953.
Many veterans never talked about the war years and Muir was no exception. In fact, the author was unaware of his 6 years 92 days of service overseas until they were related at his funeral in 2004.
My Great Uncle Peter was one of the nicest men that I have ever met. I'll always remember him pottering around his garage or in his huge vegetable garden at their red brick house at Argyle Road, not far from the racecourse in Greerton, Tauranga. The house has since been demolished.