Kakanui woman April Hayes Dickson is determined to solve a World War 1 mystery that has baffled her for a decade.
She has a well-preserved 1916 linen map of France that belonged to a New Zealand soldier, Major Edward Sherson, of Auckland.
It is understood the major had the map on him when he was killed in action in the French town of Crevecoeur-sur-l’Escaut in 1918.
Years later, it came into the possession of Oamaru woman Sue Dickson – Mrs Hayes Dickson’s mother-in-law.
For years, the relic sat preserved between needles and yarn in a knitting basket that was always by her side.
It is unknown how the map came to Oamaru, or how Mrs Dickson managed to obtain it.
“To this day I can picture her sitting in her chair – the map and that basket was by her side all the time,” Mrs Hayes Dickson said.
When her mother-in-law died 10 years ago, Mrs Hayes Dickson took the map as something to remember her by.
She had planned to frame it on the 100th anniversary of Maj Sherson’s death, but decided against it, feeling it belonged with his descendants instead.
Last year, she started a quest to track down his family.
“I didn’t quite know how I was going to do it or where it was going to lead me,” she said.
After countless months of research, she finally managed to track down Geoff Sherson, Maj Sherson’s great-great-grandson, in Auckland.
Mrs Hayes Dickson said the family were shocked to find out about the map.
“You can imagine how blown away the Sherson family were,” she said.
“Who is this woman and how on earth did she get this map that we didn’t even know existed?”
She hopes to travel to Auckland to meet the Sherson family and personally deliver the map to them.
“It’s going to be a very big deal for them to physically experience it,” she said.
Mrs Hayes Dickson said true closure would come when she learned how the map made its way to Oamaru in the first place.