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72597 Private John Martino Mariano Vella – 38th Reinforcements
 
John was born in Paremata on 14th March 1897 the eldest son of Mariana Marino and Elizabetta (Elizabeth) Caterina
Vella. John was named Giovanni Martino Mariano Vella but the name was anglicised to John, in the Vella family he was known as Jack.
 
Jack was raised in Station Street, Paremata with his older sister Metty and younger sister Annie (Antonia Elizabeth Maria) and younger brother Mariano Francisco (Marino Jnr). Jack went to Pauatahanui School from age five but in 1904 transferred to the newly opened Plimmerton School.
 
 
 
 
Vella family c1905 - 1906
 
 
 
Andrew
Metty
Mariano Jnr
Elizabeth
William
Mariano Snr
Annie
Mary  (died in 1907)
Jack
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In 1909 Mariano and Elizabeth returned for a holiday to Lussin, a small island off the Dalmatian Coast. It is possible the other three children, Jack (12), Annie (10), Mariano (8) also went.
 
The family returned to New Zealand in 1915 and settled in Plimmerton.
 
In 1917, when he was 20, Jack was selected in the compulsory military ballot, his military papers indicate that he was working as a joiner in Wellington but living with his parents in Plimmerton. Both Mariano and Elizabeth are listed as
being born in Austria although Mariano had been naturalised in 1896. Jack also listed that he was serving his military training in D (Wellington) Battery and that he would like to be enlisted in the New Zealand Artillery. Medically graded
as ' A Fit'  Jack entered camp as 72597 Private John Martino Mariano Vella, 38th Reinforcements on the 6th February
1918.
 
There is no reason listed but on 10th April 1918 he was placed on ‘leave in lieu of discharge’[i].  It is possible that his parents birth places were a factor and even though he was born in Paremata a note placed on his file in 1919 has one word ‘Alien’.[ii]
 
Jack returned to live at Plimmerton but in November 1918 the Vella family was struck by the flu epidemic as his sister remembered[iii]
 
‘The whole family got sick during the influenza epidemic, we lost my brother Jack in the epidemic.
Mother had us all in bed, except herself. She managed to keep going and then my brother was so
ill we took him to the emergency hospital in the Anglican Church across the road. It was a shocking
thing. It took both young and elderly people.’
 
On the 20th November 1918 the Evening Post carried a report how Plimmerton was coping with the epidermic.
 
 
Of the three Europeans reported very seriously ill, on the 20th 
November 1918 Mr Donald Robertson died. Mr Robertson was 44
and had operated a store from 1900 – 1914 in Plimmerton and at
one stage was the Post Master. There was a double tragedy as his
brother-in-law was killed in a motor accident on Paekakariki Hill Road
after visiting him in Plimmerton.
 
 
On the 21st November 1918 Jack Vella died aged 21, he is buried in
the Catholic cemetery in Pauatahanui.
 
 
The third European was Ernest Arthur Palmer. Ernest was an Angican
lay reader who had volunteered to assist at St Andrews.
 
He was taken to Wellington but died on the 28th November 1918

Notes
Matteo (Metty) Vella, Jack's older sister served as a Voulteer Aid Division (VAD)
member from 1916 - 1922.  
 
References:
Plimmerton a colourful history: Bob Maysmor
Paperspast Online
NZ BDM Online
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files 72597 Private John Mariano Vella
 
Photos:
C1905 – 6 Vella family: Pataka Museum, Porirua
1916 St Andrews Chruch Plimmerton - Postcard
 
[i] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 72597 Private John Martino Mariano Vella
[ii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 72597 Private John Martino Mariano Vella
[iii] The Spanish Influenza Epidemic: Plimmerton A colourful history
St Andrews, Plimmerton - 1916