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BALLANTINE, ADELAIDE AMELIA (ADA)

 

Adelaide Amelia Ballantine was born in Wanganui in 1880, fourth and youngest daughter of Peter and Jane Ballantine nee Harrison.

 

Educated in Wanganui, Ada Ballantine came frequently to Hawera and Manaia, eventually joining the stores staff of the Kaupokonui Dairy Company.

 

From there, she joined up with Ettie Rout, of Christchurch, and her Volunteer Sisterhood team which, under the leadership of Mr J L Hay, also of Christchurch, left New Zealand to set up their first overseas canteen in Tel er Kibir, Cairo. Funded by Lady Godley, (wife of General Godley) Ettie, Ada and three other sisters made huge vats of fruit salad and blancmange to balance the constant diet of bully beef and hard biscuits that the army supplied.

 

Later, another canteen was set up in London and then Ada became a W.I.S.P - the Women's International Street Patrol. Ada and Fanny McHugh did what they called "street-work". Basically the patrols tried to separate men and women and avert sexual intercourse.

 

"If you can save only one young girl from the results of her own folly and turn her high spirits and natural admiration for our brave defenders into the right channel; if you can safeguard only one young recruit from temptation, is it now well worthwhile?" a patrol pamphlet asked. They would go up to young couples, tick them off about the dangers of courtship and escort the women to the nearest homeward bound bus.

 

Both Ada and Dora Murch (Pirani) were remembered for their fine record of welfare work in the interests of servicemen of many countries arriving in and passing through London to various theatres of war in Europe and returning on leave.

 

Ada would be remembered best by her mode of addressing all soldiers as sergeant - to the surprise of the ordinary private and the consternation of W.O. II's, all of whom came to hold her in the highest regard.

 

Her name is perpetuated on war memorials in the grounds of the Ararata School and in the Octagon at Manaia. Unfortunately the rules of the RSA made no provision for those who had not served as armed services personnel, and many who knew of her service felt this had been unjustly denied her.

 

At the end of the war, Ada returned to Wanganui and around 1921, she and her sister May Ballantine came to reside with their other sister Elizabeth Winks, wife of James.

 

 

 

Ada devoted herself to many Hawera community activities, including the Women's National Reserve, a wartime organisation that carried on in various other forms of welfare work, particularly during the depression, the Girl Guide movement in which she held warrant as an officer, the Women's Division of the old Farmers Union, and in the political field as a worker in the Patea electorate organisation supporting Mr H G Dickie when he was Member of Parliament.

 

Ada Ballantine died on 4 April 1956 at Hawera aged 76 years, and is buried at the Hawera cemetery.

 

SOURCES

Obituary "Hawera Star" 7 April 1956

Article " Our Sisters Overseas" by Jane Tolerton (More Magazine)

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