Woodhouse relative to Gallipoli

Minister of Veteran Affairs Michael Woodhouse has clarified his link to a ‘Trooper Woodhouse’ who served at Gallipoli. It had been reported that Minister Woodhouse claimed Trooper Woodhouse was a great uncle, and then when another member of the Woodhouse family was apparently upset by this the Minister retracted and apologised.

But Minister Woodhouse now says this was inaccurate and that he is related to the Trooper.

Stuff/Dominion Post had reported Minister apologises for Gallipoli relative gaffe.

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Woodhouse has upset an Otago family by wrongly claiming Trooper Frank Woodhouse, who died in Gallipoli aged just 20, was his great uncle.

Woodhouse told a reporter while he was in Turkey for the 99th anniversary of the Anzac landings last month that he had seen the name on a memorial there and after checking online found it was his great uncle.

But a spokesman for the aggrieved family, Gareth Woodhouse, said the man was his great uncle, not the minister’s.

He had sent a “long, pointed” email to Michael Woodhouse about his claim and he had come back with a “semi-apology”.

He said Woodhouse was a minister of the Crown and Veterans’ affairs minister. “The family feels Michael Woodhouse should have done more research before making claims to the media about Frank Woodhouse.”

Michael Woodhouse yesterday said he had not intended his comments to the reporter to be on the record and he now accepted the man was not his great uncle. He had expressed his regret to the family if he had caused any upset.

“I certainly didn’t intend to offend them,” he said.

“I accept that the comment about the nature of any familial relationship was premature. It wasn’t a comment to claim some kind of great lineage to him.”

He still believed he had a family connection to the soldier and there were several families of Woodhouses in the region. “I’m quite sure there is shared DNA there.”

“Laterally” the soldier may be a first or second cousin three or four times removed.

This was also covered by the ODT: Woodhouse admits Gallipoli gaffe

Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse has upset a family by mistakenly claiming a link to the Gallipoli campaign.

The Minister of Veterans’ Affairs told the ODT last month Trooper Frank Woodhouse, of the Otago Mounted Rifles, was his great-uncle.

This led to criticism and ridicule in social media:

The Standard – The Woodhouse Family

Whale Oil – It’s not just Cunliffe that makes things up

It is disgraceful that politicians would use veterans and service of others to try to cover themselves in glory. It was despicable of Cunliffe and it is despicable of Michael Woodhouse.

Minister Woodhouse has clarified on Facebook.

I’ve received a lot of questions over the last 24 hours around Trooper Woodhouse so I thought I would set the record straight. Recent media reports incorrectly suggested I retracted and apologised for claiming a connection to a soldier killed at Gallipoli, when no such connection existed. This is not the case.

There is no doubt about a family connection to Trooper Frank Woodhouse, Otago Mounted Rifles, killed at Hill 60 in August 1915. I prematurely speculated that he may be a Great or Great Great Uncle, speculation that caused a distant relative distress, for which I privately apologised. That apology was not an acknowledgement that no family connection existed.

On a positive note, the publicity has resulted in a large number of distant relatives, genealogists and a military historian, contacting me to provide a wealth of information on my extended family. This information not only confirms the connection to Trooper Woodhouse, but adds a much deeper lustre to the wider Woodhouse family’s knowledge of its long history in Otago.

I’m not sure why it was deemed newsworthy in the first place.

Many of us have relatives who served in the World Wars. Even distant family connections can have a personal impact. It should generally be left personal and not become an excuse to indulge in political beat-ups.

I question who made the gaffe.

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