Monday, September 8, 2014

Rifleman Cecil Albert Duff - Bulls Memorial


At the time of enlisting in January 1916, Cecil Duff was employed at the Eltham dairy factory as a cheese factory hand.  Cecil was the second son of Elizabeth Eleanor Duff, of Bulls, and the late David James Duff, born in Wellington in April 1885.

Before embarking Cecil needed treatment on his teeth which was carried out at Featherston camp. The treatment required a general anesthetic and Cecil was confused with another soldier who had died at the hospital whilst undergoing treatment.  Cecil's mother received a telegram informing her that her son had died while undergoing the treatment.  When a cousin went to view what he assumed would be Cecil's body he was surprised to find Cecil alive.  Cecil's mother (Elizabeth) on hearing the news that her son was still alive and well must have been overjoyed.

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Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLIII, Issue 13936, 8 March 1916

Cecil finally embarked on 1 April 1916 with the 2nd Reinforcements attached to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Sadly Elizabeth would receive another telegram some months later in 1916 informing her that her son had been killed in action on 15 September 1916 at the Somme and this time there was no mistake.  His body was never identified and he is remembered on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial, Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France.

Cecil's younger brother Bert also enlisted and embarked with the Wellington Infantry Battalion.  On enlisting he was given a clean bill of health, however soon after arrival in England he had a re-occurrence of Rheumatic fever which he had contracted years early.  From what I can tell he never made it to the front and was discharged from the army no longer fit for duty returning to New Zealand in May 1917.

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