Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rifleman Daniel John Butler - Alexandra Memorial

Daniel Butler was the son of John and Mary Butler Irish immigrant farmers who settled in New Zealand in 1863/64.  Daniel was born in Bald Hill Flat (known today as Fruitlands) Otago on 11 June 1884.

At the time of his enlistment Daniel was living in the Hawkes Bay where he was a farmer.  In September 1915 he married Eunice May Spencer in Napier.  At the time of his embarkation with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on the 16 November 1917 he had two young sons and his wife Eunice was pregnant with their third child.  We can only imagine the angst that Daniel felt leaving his young family not knowing when or whether he would return.  The war had been going for three years and the New Zealand public would have been fully aware of the cost in lives from the Great War.

Daniel Butler joined his battalion in France on 5 April 1918, the very same day that his third son was born back in NZ.   Daniel was slightly wounded in June 1918 but was soon sent back to the field.  At the beginning of August he was transferred to the 3rd NZ Light Trench Mortar Battery and on 31 October 1918 he was tragically killed in action.

For his young wife back in the Hawkes Bay left with 3 small children the news of Daniel's death would have been unbearable made worse I am sure by the fact that shortly afterwards the Armistice was called on 11 November 1918.  Daniel youngest son never got to meet his father and the other boys were very small, but I am sure they grew up proud of the knowledge that their father had made the ultimate sacrifice.


  1. This is incredibly sad. I do not know how the family coped with this tragedy.

  2. This is what happened. Eunice gave birth to their third son in April of 1919. He was my father. She raised them on the family's farm inland from Napier until times became too tough during the Great Depression and the stock and station company took the farm. She remarried and had two more sons. Her three sons by Daniel John Butler fought in the Second World War, married, had families, and lived to an old age. Little was known about Daniel John's fate until my cousin, then I, requested his war record. Only years later did I realise that the day he was killed was the date of my wife's birthday.