Greytown historian Jack Bull in a Times-Age photo published in July, 1990. He had a keen interest in the natural and cultural history of his town. PHOTO/WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE
Jack Bull was one of Wairarapa’s prominent historians.
Born in 1910, he was too young to enlist in World War I, but he still tried to play his part, staging an attempt to invade German property.
He was born Burnett Hereward Love Bull in Lower Hutt, one of six children to Alfred Bull and his wife Eva Burnett.
His father had run away from home when young, then served in the Boer War before settling in the Hutt, working as a carrier.
When Jack was two the family moved to Wairarapa, his father buying Burt’s store in Featherston.
At the outbreak of World War I, they moved again, this time to Greytown, where Alfred Bull became the recruiting officer.
It was in Greytown that the young Jack Bull carried out his raid.
As a four-year-old he decided to do his bit for the war effort by shooting the German family who lived next door. He purloined his father’s shotgun but was stymied when he could not get through the fence while carrying the gun.
His mother caught up with him and his brief excursion into enemy territory was cut short.
Once he was old enough he attended Greytown School, with his twin sister Jill.
It was here that he earned the name he was to carry for the rest of his life, the teachers and children alike calling the twins “Jack and Jill”.
His exploits with the gun were not finished.
The family lived near Tate’s Cherry Orchard, and Tate used to get the boys of the neighbourhood to shoot the birds, which would attack the ripe cherries.
Bull shot a few of the birds, but once shot a native bat by mistake. He also shot shags on behalf of the Acclimatisation Society.
Bull trained as a carpenter and worked in Wellington at first before returning to Wairarapa where he married Stella Humphries in 1936.
He was called up to the Air Force in 1942, just after the Wairarapa earthquakes, and mainly served in construction in the Pacific theatre.
He returned to New Zealand in 1946 and worked for Trotman Brothers before joining the Wairarapa Catchment Board in 1955, where he worked until he retired in 1975.
Bull had a keen interest in the natural and cultural history of Greytown, and wrote ‘The Years Between’ for Greytown Borough’s centennial.
His first wife Stella, with whom he had three children, died in 1972, and in 1975 he married Iris Maguire. He died in 1999.
– Gareth Winter
More: Audio of Bull describing his failed raid: