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 Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson

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joebratpunk



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PostSubject: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:16 pm

Hi,

I'm trying to find out what I can about a FLH Trooper, Thomas H (known as 'Harry') Peterson.

Peterson was the trooper whose horse became skittish after the FLH had been sent out of the perimiter at Khambula to fire on the Ngobamakosi and prompt their attack... his circumstances led Maj John Russell to ride out to him, and when Russell got into difficulties, Lt Edward Browne (1/24th) and Troop Sgt Major Learda (NNH) rode out to rescue both. Browne received the VC, Learda the DCM. Russell, who was disliked by Col Wood and whose behaviour at Hlobane was in question, received nothing.

Trooper Peterson was shot in the incident, and recuperated at Utrecht, and later Durban, as recorded in the book 'Sister Janet' (Best & Stossel, ed Greaves, Barnsley 2006). This book also mentions he travelled to London to see Nurse Janet some short time after the end of the war, and presented her with his sketches of the war.

I'm trying to find out anything generally about life in the FLH, and specifically about Trooper Peterson. Any help would be appreciated.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:21 pm

Welcome to the forum, joebratpunk. You have come to the right place if you are looking for that sort of information! I am sure there will be many people on here who can help you in this, it is a goldmine of knowledge and enthiusiasts.
Out of interest, what is your interest in Tpr Thomas Peterson?
Good luck and enjoy the forum Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:31 pm

What information do you have on this chap already.. Here's some.

"Major J.C. Russell – a veteran of both the Isandlwana campaign and Hlobane – noted that Trooper Petersen of the Frontier Light Horse was having difficulty steadying his horse to mount. Russell went to his aid, dismounted, and helped him away, but in doing so got into difficulties on his own account. While Russell struggled to re-mount his horse, Troop Sergeant Major Learda of the Natal Native Horse formed a group of his men around Russell to keep the Zulus at bay. Lieutenant E.S. Browne, 24th Regiment – attached to the Mounted Infantry."
Source Ian Knight.
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joebratpunk



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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:44 pm

I've been an avid reader of works around the Anglo Zulu war for many years, and have just finished reading 'Sister Janet'. The book suggests Peterson felt romantically inclined towards his ministering 'angel', and travelled to London to find her. Presuming that, as an FLH Trooper, he was most likely a colonial settler, his journey to London seems remarkable (and futile - she was engaged shortly after returning to England). I'm curious to know his backstory.

I've seen the passage in from Ian Knight. It's interesting that the VS for Lt Browne is the easiest tie-in to the wounding of Trooper Peterson, as that in itself has some confusion... the citation places the action at Hlobane, but gives the date for Kambula. A couple of books allude to the former. The only other thing I've found is that there is a report written by Peterson around Russell coming to his aid, which is in the National Archives of the National Army Museum in Chelsea (and which I'll check out at the first opportunity!). I presume his sketches are with the Sister Janet archives at Tenterden Museum in Kent. Again, if it's possible and practical to actually see them, I'll be looking into that.


Last edited by joebratpunk on Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:44 pm

There's a mentioned here of a Harry Peterson. Who became devoted to sister Janet who nurse him.

Click Here
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:52 pm

Quote :
. I presume his sketches are with the Sister Janet archives at Tenterden Museum in Kent. Again, if it's possible and practical to actually see them, I'll be looking into that.

Drop forum member David Payne a PM he maybe able to help.
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joebratpunk



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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:03 am

littlehand wrote:
There's a mentioned here of a Harry Peterson. Who became devoted to sister Janet who nurse him.

Yep, that's essentially my starting point!
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:07 am

I'll keep looking. Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:10 am

joebratpunk,

Let me add my welcome to the forum.

The following information is from the Medal Roll:

Trooper 115, Peterson, T. H.; Date of Enrollment, 23-6-78; Date of Discharge, "Date unknown, 80". Participated in Zulu War and in the operation against Sekkukuni. Entitled to the South Africa Medal with clasp "1879".

There was another Trooper Peterson in the Frontier Light Horse -
F. Peterson; Date of Discharge was 3-2-79.


Petty Officer Tom
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:49 am

"     After a nerve-wracking hour they gained the safety of level ground. Janet was very relieved to have negotiated the precipitous bends and she now marvelled at the crystal-clear views into Zululand. It was even possible to see the outline of Hlobane Mountain, some sixty miles away, where Trooper Peterson had been injured. Once on the level they made swift progress. The route was well-worn by the to-ing and fro-ing of army wagons and the thousands of troops who had marched along this very route in order to invade Zululand. Janet reflected that many had not made the return journey. Three hours later they arrived at the isolated mission station. The location was picturesque, sited on a rock outcrop under the lea of the Oskarsberg hill and facing the Buffalo River. The camp perimeter was guarded by two British soldiers – who were astonished by the arrival of the young English nurse. They directed her to the nearby replacement Fort Melvill where Janet was introduced to the officer in charge of the rear-guard, Lieutenant Rowden of the 99th Regiment. Following refreshments of tea and army biscuits, he led her a short walk from the fort towards the river and her new accommodation. On receiving the news of her pending visit, Lieutenant Rowden had thoughtfully arranged to have a Zulu hut constructed for her use. It was sited just a few hundred yards out of sight of the military accommodation.
     This was to be her home for the next three weeks and Janet was delighted. Since entering Zululand she had been intrigued by Zulu huts and wrote that she was very surprised how comfortable these primitive buildings were. A small fireplace had also been built next to her hut to supply hot water for her domestic use. A slatted bed and chair were her only comforts. She was so impressed by her new home, which she called ‘our Mess hut’, that she decided to paint the scene with the famous battleground of Rorke’s Drift as the painting’s backdrop. Perhaps she had been inspired to paint by Trooper Petersen because she eventually produced a remarkably accurate watercolour depicting her Zulu ‘bee-hive’ mess hut. In the picture, the battlefield of Rorke’s Drift is clearly seen in the background. This rare and remarkable painting survives in her scrapbook."
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:23 am

National Archives.


[no title]  6807/386-23-31  May 1879

Contents:
Statement of Thomas Peterson of the Frontier Light Horse, explaining how Russell saved his life on 29 Mar. Dated 7 May 1879, with comment by Buller of 11 May.

May 1879 Click Here
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:30 am

Appreciated, both.

Good to know the dates of service... it's TH Peterson., though there is every possibility that the other is a relative, perhaps a brother... my hometown of Exeter is something of an homage to Redvers Buller, so I'll see of there are any local archives on his involvement with the FLH and the Sekkukune encounters...
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:21 pm

Interesting addition, though not helpful! The 'Who's Who' Vol ! (Knight/Greaves) includes this on Edward Browne's VC:

"According to an eye-ewitness:

'One of his own troopers, a private of the 2nd Battalion 4th King's Own, got dismounted and was so confused at his stumble that he would certainly have been sacrificed, as the Zulus were close upon him. Lieutenant Brown [e] helped the man to mount, thus saving his trooper's life at imminent risk of his own' "

(entry on Edward Stevenson Browne, p38).

No mention of John Russell, or of Trooper Peterson. The companion volume on Colonial and Zulu personalities doesn't mention Sgt Mj Learda (who is also missing from the report above).

If either of these distinguished authors read this forum and can reference the source for the eye-witness account quoted, that woudld be very helpful!

Interesting, also, in the passage quoted by Littlehand above, that it refers to Hlobane as the location for Peterson's injury. Maybe this ties in with the confusion over Browne's VC, which was cited at Hlobane but happened the following day at the start of the battle of Kambula.
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PostSubject: Trpr. Thomas .H. ''Harry '' Peterson    Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:25 am

Hi Joebratplank .
Firstly welcome to the forum and hope you enjoy sifting through the amount of Imformation which is available . We might need to Clarify Browne's VC , Bancrofts book ' Zulu War V.C'S ' has him earning his VC at Hlobane as does Ian Knight in '' The Zulu War Then And Now '' . The Robert Hope book '' A Staffordshire Regt In The Zulu And Sekukuni Campaigns Of 1878 - 79 has Browne earning his VC at Khambula , as does Norman Holme's book '' The Noble 24th '' in which it states '' The Victoria Cross Citation , London Gazette 17 / 6 / 79 reads , '' For his Gallant conduct on the 29th March 1879 when the mounted infantry were being driven in by the enemy at Inhlobane , in galloping back and twice assisting on his horse under a heavy fire and within a few yards of the enemy one of the mounted men , who must otherwise have fallen into the ememy's hands ( This award was for the action at Kambula ; the reverse of the VC is dated correctly 29 / 3 / 1879 ).

So I think its safe to assume it was indeed awarded for the Kambula action as this was the 29th , and Hlobane was the 28th !.
So I checked 4 books and 2 for each one ! . Bill Cainan who is the Curator at Brecon ( 24th Regt Museum ) will certainly put us straight , but if Norman Holme states it as the Khambula action , I'm certain Bill will Concur as Holme , I assume used the Brecon Records .

The only book I have that covers the FLH in any sort of detail is '' Running The Gauntlet '' which is by a member of that unit named George Mossop . The cheapest copy I could find is from DP&G Publishing , here's the link . I've had many dealings from them and they are fully relaible and extremly helpful . They have as you'll see a large range of AZW Publications . I think the Mossop book is about the 14th one down ? . From memory It also covers his life briefly before and after the AZW . Mossop is the only survivor of those who got down Hlobane - via the Devils Pass to leave an account which was published .



[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Cheers 90th. scratch
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joebratpunk



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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:13 pm

Hi 90th,

Many thanks for the research, and particularly for the cross-reference to Mossop’s book. I didn’t know it was possible to acquire a copy. In the ‘Who’s Who’ volume 2, there’s reference to a second book which was never published… I wonder if the manuscript still exists?

The opening of the battle of Kambula, and Browne’s VC, continue to throw up some interesting fragments. Mossop’s own writing, quoted in the Who’s Who, indicates he also got into difficulties and could not mount his (new) horse (his original mount having been killed the day before), until Captain Oldham rode out to his rescue. Patricia D’Arcy’s book ‘What Happened to a VC’, (Dundalk... not sure when published, post 1956 from the bibliography) includes a FLH roll, listing a Capt A.C. Oldham, who served with the unit from its origination.

Adrian Greaves describes both the confusion over Browne’s VC, and concludes it was won for actions at Kambula (Crossing the Buffalo, London 2005, Cassell paperback edition p278). Greaves writes of the opening of the battle;

Quote :
Wood… ordered Buller to take about 100 of his men and fire point-blank volleys into the packed ranks of the waiting uVe and iNgobamakhosi… Buller’s men calmly dismounted and fired several fast and deadly volleys… this action was too much for hte Zulus who immediately charged the horsemen.

The riders hurriedly retreated back to the camp hotly pursued by the Zulus; unfortunately several riders had earlier failed to notice a small spring and their retreat took them through boggy ground, slowing their retreat. With the Zulus upon the, two me were pulled from their horses and killed. Another rider, Trooper Peterson, of the Frontier Light [sic], also got into difficulties and his plight was seen by Lt Col Russell, who had so rapidly fled Hlobane the previous day. Russell bravely went to Peterson’s aid but found himself in a similar predicament. Several of the NNH, including young Trooper Mossop, rushed to assist the trapped Peterson while Lt Browne of the 24th Regiment went to Russell’s aid: all had a miraculous escape and reached the camp just as the artillery began firing case shot over their heads. Browne was later awarded the Victoria Cross, the only VD of the day, and Troop Sgt Maj Learda of the NNH received the DCM. Wood disliked Russell, and so Russell’s bravery went unrecognised.”
Ibid, p283

My minor amends to the above. Mossop was definitely a FLHorseman, and the suuggestion to send out the mounted troops to provoke the Zulu attack came from Buller to Wood, not vice versa:

“At 1.30pm Col Buller suggested he should go out and harry the Zulus into a premature attack, and this he did admirably”

(Wood’s own report, quoted in “By the Orders of the Great White Queen”, Ian Knight (London 1992, p186)

There’s another footnote to this, below, from Alfred Blaine.
-

In ‘Great Zulu Battles 1838-1906’ (London 1998), Ian Knight also attributes Browne’s VC to this action at Kambula, writing,

Quote :
It was during this retreat that the only British VC of the action was won; a private of the 4th Regiment attached to the Mounted Infantry, had dismounted to fire but couldn’t remount his nervous horse. Lt Edward Browne of the 24th, commanding the Mounted Infantry detachment, saw his predicament and rode back to steady his horse, ‘this saving’, in the words of one contemporary account, ‘his trooper’s life at imminent risk of his own’
. (p153).

Again, the eyewitness is not referenced, but there’s no mention of Russell, Learda, or Mossop.

David Rattray also places Browne’s action at the start of the assault on Kambula, metioning that “Several of Buller’s men from the Frontier Light Horse were overtaken by the Zulus” (“Guidebook to the Anlo-Zulu War Battlefields", Barnsley 2003, p104)

Ron Lock tells it rather differently again (“Blood on the Painted Mountain”, London 1995, pp 192-4). He has ‘the unhappy’ Russell riding out as one of the provoking cavalry, and getting into difficulty, to be saved first by Learda, then by Browne steadying his horse, and Mossop similarly stuck, saved by Captain Oldham within earshot of the killing of his fellow trooper. Lock also calls the retreat ‘disorganised’, where others have it as a controlled fire-and-withdraw that runs into difficulties late in the piece (including several eye-witness accounts in Moodie, referenced below, and a “colleague” of Norris-Newman (“In Zululand with the British Army”, Leonaur 2006 paperback edition, p177).

Robert Edgerton placed Browne’s VC as a part of the rearguard at Hlobane (‘Like Lions they Fought’, Bergvlei 1988, p123), which I’m sure I wrong, but both he and Saul David mention that Buller and Browne had reported to Wood that they would not serve with Russell in the evening after Hlobane. David also suggests Russell got into difficulties and Browne rescued him, with no reference to named others in the party, nor to any suggestion that Russell himself acted to save an imperilled trooper (Peterson) - (“Zulu: The heroism & tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879”, London 2004, pp270-1)

-

The footnote to the provocation of the Zulu attack comes from a letter from FLH Captain Alfred Blaine, who says two detachments of FLH were on picket outside the camp on the morning of 29 Mar;

Quote :
Commandant Raaff’s corps [The Transvaal Rangers] went out to the south eat with about twenty of his men; our Sergeant Major went out to the north-east with ten of our men, and I went out to the south with ten of our men. When I had got about 8 miles out I met Raaff riding towards me. He shouted out “For God’s sake, Blaine, ride back as hard as you can; you’re right on to the Zulu army!” I looked and saw thousands of kaffirs coming over the hill in front of us, running. I put the men about and rode into the camp with Raaff, the Kaffirs following, but we soon left them behind. We warned the camp, and soon succeeded in getting all our cattle and horses into laager. We saw som mounted men riding for camp as hard as we could. They crossed about 1,000 yards in front of the right wing of the Zulu army, the Zulus firing at them. They turned out to be our Sergeant-Major and his patrol. They got in safely. As soon as the right wing had got about 2,000 yards from the camp, Colonel Buller led all the cavalry out to go and meet them. We had a grand skirmish and then retired back to camp. Men lost their horses, and the horses ran back, but we succeeded in putting the men up behind us. We lost one man killed and two wounded out there. The Zulus then drew in their horns, and the main body came on with a rush.”

Letter from Alfred Blaine, quoted in “The Red Soldier”, ed Frank Emery (London 1977), pp170-1, also quoted in “Moodie’s Zulu War”, Cape Town 1978 paperback edition, pp124-5).


-

From Patricia D’Arcy’s book, the only Frontier Light Horseman killed at Kambula was Sergeant J Tippett, so presumably he was the man killed, and Trooper TH Peterson was one of the two injured, in the initial engagement.

-


From these miscellaneous accounts, my summary is as follows;

The pickets from the FLH and Transvaal Rangers encountered the impi and rode back into camp, having been fired upon with no effect. Buller suggested the cavalry be used to prompt a premature attack, which Wood supported. Buller (probably) led the mixed mounted troops out against the uVe and inGobamakhosi, in a controlled fire-and-withdraw operation, which prompted the Zulu to call at them in English, with various mocking comments like ‘Don’t run away, Johnny, we have something to tell you’, and ‘we are the boys from Isandhlwana’, and finally as they pressed home, ‘uSuthu!’.

Towards the end of this skirmish, some of the horsemen got into difficulty. Russell saw Peterson in trouble – either before or because Peterson was shot and wounded – and went to his aid. In turn, Russell had difficulties remounting: Leadra led his troopers to surround and protect him, and Browne rode to help him mount, and then to gain his stirrups. Elsewhere Mossop also got into difficulties, and Captain Oldham rode to his rescue. Trooper Tippett was overrun and killed, and one other Frontier Light Horeseman was injured. The remainder of the party, including Peterson, regained the laager as the artillery and the 90th foot opened fire, which checked the (premature) Zulu charge as the battle got under way in earnest.

-

Any more information or corroboration would be very much appreciated. I’m very keen to trace the eye-witness that Knight refers to, which puts a British regular in difficulties before Russell/Learda/Browne interviened.

Would anyone, for example, be able to identify ‘a private of the 4th regiment’ that had been seconded to Russell’s Mounted Infantry? Though presumably an thorough historian like Ian Knight would have seen at least a referenced source, and quite possibly the original, for the comments quoted.

Also, if anyone knows where I might find records of the injured soldiers’ case notes – particularly Peterson, who was treated in the makeshift hospital in the camp, then moved by Ox-cart with the others to the station at Utrecht on or around 4th April 1879, then that would be great.
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PostSubject: Trpr. Thomas H 'Harry ' Peterson   Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:21 pm

Hi Joebratpunk.
Well detailed and researched post , I think yesterday I checked Woood's book '' From Midshipman to Field Marshall '' and I dont think the action even gets a mention ! .
Cheers 90th. Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:54 am

As a coda to this, I’ve found a revised account from Ian Knight, in the AZWHS Journal v9 from 2001;

Quote :
“Major J.C. Russell – a veteran of both the Isandhlwana campaign and Hlobane – noted that Trooper Peterson of the Frontier Light Horse was having difficulty steadying his horse to mount. Russell went to his aid, dismounted, and helped him away, but in doing so got into difficulties on his own account. While Russell struggled to re-mount his horse, Troop Sergeant Major Learda of the Natal Native Horse formed a group of his men around Russell to keep the Zulus at bay. Lieutenant E.S.Browne, 24th Regiment - attached to the Mounted Infantry – who had himself just saved a private of the 4th Regiment in similar circumstances – saw Russell’s predicament, and held the reins of Russell’s horse allowing him to mount. By this time, the Zulus were just yards away from them, but the entire group managed to get away without loss. Russell, Learda and Browne had all acted with conspicuous courage, but Wood did not like Russell, and while Browne was later awarded the VC, and Learda the DCM, Russell got nothing”

AZWHSJ v9, p3
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:00 pm

Buller did lead the foray personally, and recalled it as follows;

Quote :
As they got nearer I went out with the mounted men and attacked the head of the right column. They stood our advance for a little, the dots (in the sketch) being my men, and if anything they edged off somewhat to their right in order to pursue their flanking movement. But they could not stand our attack as I pressed home, and the advance of their right column, about 2,000 strong, turned and charged us. I need not say that the eighty or ninety men I had got on their horses pretty quick, and we scampered back to camp holding a running fight with them as we went. Our attack succeeded. It was evident it upset their plans, for during the whole day that corner of the camp remained unsurrounded.

LIFE OF GENERAL THE RIGHT HON. SIR REDVERS BULLER, V.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G.

by COLONEL C. H. MELVILLE, C.M.G., LATE ARMY MEDICAL SERVICE, London 1923


(this is online, but I can't post links yet!)
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:00 pm

Click Here
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Fri Sep 28, 2012 12:07 am

littlehand wrote:
Click Here[/url]

Cheers!

Apparently forum users have to wait a week before being allowed to post links - presumably to stop spam :)
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Fri Sep 28, 2012 12:22 am

Quote :
Apparently forum users have to wait a week before being allowed to post links - presumably to stop spam :)

Joe, it's like the words in the song "Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you." Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Trooper Thomas H 'Harry' Peterson   Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:50 am

littlehand wrote:
Joe, it's like the words in the song "Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you." Very Happy

Well, I hope the commentary above shows I can research and reference...!
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