Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Waipawa Memorial

The Waipawa Memorial was unveiled on 22 July 1922 by Lord Jellicoe.  The weather on the day was atrocious with heavy rain throughout the length of the ceremony.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cox Brothers - Waipukurau Memorial

On the Waipukurau Memorial the name of Private George Turnley Cox is inscribed. He died of his wounds on 14 May 1915 aboard the 'Guildford Castle' on route to Alexandria from Gallipoli at the age of only 20 years.  George was one of the six sons of Edward and Louisa Cox of Wanganui who served overseas in World War One (WW1).  For the majority of us having one son go to fight in a war is unthinkable. Having six sons embark for war is unimaginable.  For Louisa and Edward Cox WW1 was surely a time of fear and hope, fear that a son may not return and hope that they would all come through unscathed.  But as we know today that was not likely to be the case in this war. 

George was the first of his brothers to enlist doing so on 14 August 1914 (his brother Edward enlisted 3 days later). Before enlisting he had been a clerk for the Loan and Mercantile company in Waipukurau.  At enlistment he stated his year of birth as 1894 when in fact he was born in 1895 making him underage for overseas service.  Nevertheless he embarked on 16 October 1914 with the Wellington Infantry Regiment as part of the Main Body.  At Gallipoli he described the fighting as "desperate" and on 9 May 1915 he was fatally wounded with a gunshot wound to the neck.  He died aboard the hospital ship 'Guildford Castle' and was buried at sea and is remembered on the Lone Pine Memorial.

His brother Edward Percy Cox, who was nine years his senior, kept a diary of his time spent at Gallipoli which has been transcribed onto the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, (NZETC). In his diary is an entry which refers to George's wounding.

         "My brother George was severely wounded Sunday morning in the trenches & unfortunately it was not possible to get him out to the rear until this evening after dark. He was however given first aid & cared for in the trenches as far as possible. The poor boy does not even recognise me. This evening and the medical officer has grave fears for his recovery. The bullet entered the base of his neck and appears to have injured the spinal column. Everything possible is being done for him by Capt Home at our regimental unit post and I do hope that he will rally sufficiently to speak to me before going off to the hospital ship."

'Gallipoli Diary' Edward Percy Cox - 'The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection' /tei-CoxDiar-t1-body-d8.html 

Edward did not learn of his brother's eventual death until 8 June 1915.

Edward Percy Cox enlisted in Hawera on 17 August 1914 where he was employed as a Commission Agent.  Before enlisting he served with the Taranaki Rifles as a territorial and had reached the rank of Captain. Like his brother he left with the Wellington Infantry Battalion on 16 October 1914.   In the Dardenelles he was promoted to Major and as mentioned kept a diary in Gallipoli which gives a first hand account of the Gallipoli campaign. ( /tei-CoxDiar-t1-body-d8.html )  Edward was severely wounded on 15 August 1915 and was eventually invalided back to New Zealand returning on the Arawa on 16 March 1916 and was discharged from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 6 May 1916.  After his discharge he served on the Government Military Board for the remainder of the war and then after the war he served on the Hawera Peace Memorial Committee.  Despite only being in action a few months Edward Cox distinguished himself and was twice Mentioned in Despatches:

MID 28.1.1916 L.G. p1210
In connection with the operation described in General Ian Hamilton's despatch dated 11.12.1915.

MID 13.7.16 L.G. p6959
For distinguished and gallant services tendered during the period of General Sir C. Munro's command of the Mediterranean Force.

In the meantime a third son Mervyn Francis Cox had enlisted and embarked with the 4th reinforcements, Wellington Mounted Rifles on 17 April 1915.  Tragically he was killed in action on 27 August 1915 at Anzac Cove.  Initially reported missing he was confirmed killed in action on 23 January 1916, he was 23 years old.  He is remembered on the Hill 60 (New Zealand) Memorial, Hill 60 Cemetery, Turkey.

For Edward and Louisa Cox the Gallipoli Campaign had been wrought with heartache and grief.  Within the space of three short months two sons had died and another was badly wounded. With three more sons at home and in camp they must have been praying for a rapid end to the war.

Norman Davidson Cox was the third son of Edward and Louisa Cox being employed as a  bookseller for H.J. Jones & Son Ltd in Wanganui.  Norman enlisted on 4 November 1916 embarking with the 32nd reinforcements, New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 21 November 1917.  Norman had been a member of the Territorials before the war and his rank during WW1 was that of 2nd Lieutenant.  He was killed in action late in the war on 31 August 1918 at Bapaume, France and is buried at the Grevillers British Cemetery.

When news of  Norman's death reached Edward and Louisa it must have been devastating and made worse by the fact that their sixth son Leslie Stuart Cox, who had recently embarked aged 20, had been wounded on 30 August 1918.     How they coped with so much grief is beyond my imagination.

After he was wounded Leslie Cox was sent back to England to recover and luckily never went back to the front embarking for New Zealand on 2 December 1918.  Leslie Cox died in 1945, aged 48.

Cecil Turnley Cox was Edward and Louisa's eldest son and he served throughout the war as a Ship's Quartermaster on the Transport ships Tahiti and Maunganui.  He embarked first on the Tahiti carrying the 7th reinforcements and continued to sail until the end of the war being discharged in January 1919.

Edward and Louisa must have been afraid that the war would linger on until their last son Harry, who in 1918 was approaching the age of eighteen, would be old enough to enlist.  When the war finally came to a close in November 1918 the Cox family must have felt both elation and great sadness.  Their family had certainly "done their bit" as three sons had given their lives and two had been wounded with only Cecil coming through the war physically unscathed. The toll on the entire family must have been immense.

All three Cox brothers who gave their lives in WW1 are remembered on the Wanganui Memorial.

Sources:  Papers Past, National Library, WellingtonNZETC, Centotaphy database, Auckland War Memorial Museum, DIA govt historic births, deaths and marriages, Archway, National Archives, Wellington.

Friday, October 12, 2012

12 October 1917 - Passchendaele

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Field.

Killed in action 12 October 1917, Passchendaele 
New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Killed in action 12 October 1917, Passchendaele 
Canterbury Infantry Regiment
Aged 25 years

Killed in action 12 October 1917, Passchendaele 
New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Aged 20 years

Killed in action 12 October 1917, Passchendaele 
Canterbury Infantry Regiment 
Killed in action 12 October 1917, Passchendaele 
New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Aged 21 years

Killed in action 12 October 1917, Passchendaele 
New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Aged 30 years

Above are six of the 846 New Zealand soldiers killed on 12 October 1917 at the 2nd Battle of Passchendaele.  The 12 October 1917 is still today New Zealand's blackest day in terms of loss of life.  They all have no known graves and are remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Battle of Passchendaele - Commemoration Ceremony

Commemoration Ceremony for the 95th Anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele
 in the World War 1 Hall of Memories at the Auckland War Memorial Museum 
on Friday 12th October at 11.00am
with the RNZ Artillery Band and Auckland Choral.   
There will be addresses by Prof Glyn Harper QSM and LtCol Chris Powell ED.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bogle Brothers - Waipukurau Memorial

On the memorial at Waipukurau are the names of three brothers Gilbert Vere Bogle, Gordon Kennedy Bogle and George Stafford Bogle who were the sons of James and Annie Bogle.  They all attended Napier Boys High School and studied at Victoria College, Wellington and had promising careers before war broke out.  Each took a different route to war but sadly their fate was to be the same at the end.


Captain Gilbert Vere Bogle taught at Wellington College from 1905 until 1908 then he went to Edinburgh University to study medicine.  On returning to New Zealand he went into partnership with Dr Godfrey in Waipukurau from where he enlisted.  On 17 July 1915 he married Margaret Fell and shortly afterwards embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade as a medical officer on 9 October 1915.  He served in Egypt and the Western Front.  Margaret his wife, travelled with her mother to England to be closer to her new husband.  Her father was also a doctor serving in a Military Hospital in England. This is where she was when the news of her husband’s death reached her.  Gilbert was killed in action on 17 September 1916 at Flers, France.  I have found many reports of his death and of his actions at the dressing station at Flers which no doubt saved many lives.   Below is an extract from a letter printed in the Wanganui Chronicle which reports on Gilbert's remarkable devotion to duty which no doubt would have been of some comfort to his family including his wife who had only a few months earlier given birth to their first child, a daughter Belinda.    

Wanganui Chronicle, Volume LX, Issue 16824, 25 November 1916

He actions were Mentioned in Dispatches with his citation below:

London Gazette, 4 January 1917, p262, Rec No 340: For special devotion to duty at Flers on the 15th and 16th September 1916. Captain Bogle, New Zealand Medical Corps (Regimental Medical Officer attached 1st Battalion, 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade), established an aid station near Flers on 15th September and organised dressing and evacuation of wounded of his own and other units, a very large number passing through his station. He worked ceaselessly in the open under continual shellfire for 36 hours without rest or meals until he was killed by a shell five (5) minutes before the Battalion moved out on relief on 16th September. His untiring efforts undoubtedly saved many lives and throughout he displayed an extraordinary devotion to duty. The work done by this officer since the arrival of his Unit in France last April has been exceptionally good. He has always shown great interest in his work and the low sick rate of his Unit is material proof of his excellent work.


Gilbert was the second son of James and Annie Bogle who gave his life in WW1.  George Stafford Bogle was a civil engineer who for a time had been employed by the Public Works Department in Whangarei before travelling to Canada to gain more experience. It was while in Quebec he enlisted in September 1914 with the Canadian Engineers.   Once reaching the UK he gained a commission with the British Royal Engineers becoming 2nd Lieutenant.  He left for Gallipoli with the engineers of the Scottish Division.  He died of his wounds at Suvla Bay on 15 October 1915 aged 26 years.  


 Gordon Kennedy Bogle was an architect before enlisting on 20 September 1915 at  Lismore, New South Wales, Australia where he lived.  He embarked on 28 March 1916 with the 26th Battalion, 10th Reinforcements.  He was killed in action by shellfire at Broodsiende Ridge, Ypres, Belgium on 20 September 1917 exactly two years after he had enlisted. No burial was recorded.  He was 28 years old and is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial.  I found a note in his military record recording his personal effects which were returned to his family. They consisted of his identity discs, wallet, photos, note book and a silver cigarette case.  I should imagine these few items remained precious reminders of their son.

For James and Annie Bogle receiving three telegrams telling them of the deaths of their sons must surely have been devastating together with the knowledge that a fourth son 2nd Lieutenant Archibald Hugh Bogle  known as Archie was also serving at the Front.  Archibald was serving with the New Zealand Engineers.  A Civil Engineer before enlisting he served with the NZ Tunnellers, he survived the war returning to his wife, two young children and his grieving parents.   After the war Archibald became a successful Civil Engineer and died in 1972 aged 89 years.

Sources: Papers Past, Auckland Museum Cenotaph database, Archway National Archives, National Archives of Australia, Department of Internal Affairs BMD.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On the road again...

On Wednesday I am heading off for a few days to photograph some more memorials my intended route is Central Plateau - Stratford, Taranaki and Wanganui. I am hoping to bring my memorial total to eighty and as a bonus the weather forecast for the next few days looks good.

I am also going to pop in to the Army Museum at Waiouru.

I have just started researching four memorials in the Hawkes Bay I visited earlier this year Dannevirke, Waipakurau, Havelock North and Waipawa these will keep me busy for a while.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Frank Allan Henderson - Mount Eden Methodist Church

I have looked at the religious murals on the back wall of the Mt Eden Methodist Church Hall on many occasions never really paying much attention to them.  However recently I was doing an exercise class in the hall and for some unknown reason was drawn to take a closer look.  Once up close I was interested to find that two of the murals had been dedicated to a local boy who had been killed at Passchendaele - naturally I decided to find out more.

Frank Allan Henderson was the only son of John George and Annie Marie Henderson, of 17 Gordon Rd., Mount Eden (known as Ngauruhoe Street, today).  Prior to enlisting he was an architects assistant for the the firm of T.G. Price, Auckland with a promising future.

Frank embarked with the 23rd Reinforcements, Auckland Infantry Regiment, A Company on 14 March 1917 from Wellington.  After surviving the disastrous battle at Passchendaele on 12 October 1917 Frank was killed in action shortly after on 23 October 1917 ironically the same day the New Zealand troops were relieved by the Canadians.  Frank is remembered on then Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.  

News of death would have been devastating for his family and I found several 'In memory' notices for Frank in the Auckland Star.  One of these notices a year after his death included the words of the first verse of 'O Valiant Hearts' a poem written by John Arkwright and put to music by Gustav Holst.  It was written in remembrance of those who fell during World War One and first published in 1919.  the Hymn is sung at many remembrance services today:

O valiant hearts who to your glory came
Through dust of conflict and through battle flame;
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
Your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

Frank's family had a close relationship with the Methodist Church in Mt Eden.  His father John George Henderson served for 12 years as the superintendent of the Sunday School at the Church on the corner of Mt Eden Road and Gordon Road (as it was then).  The Church Hall was built in 1910 and presumably the murals were added later after the war.  They are a lovely memorial to an only son in a place where the family would have visited regularly.  Frank had three sisters and it would be interesting to know if any of the their descendants live locally today.

We are lucky the murals still survive today  as a few years ago the church was under threat of removal.  If anyone has more information about the murals please contact me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Wilton Brothers - Pahiatua Memorial

Hugh Regardso and Sidney Thomas Wilton were two of the five sons of Thomas and Annie Wilton.  They both farmed with their father in Mangamutu, Pahiatua before enlisting together on 12 October 1915 and then embarking with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 5 February 1916.  On his last leave before embarking Hugh married Isla Mary Macdonald.

On arrival in France Hugh contracted measles and was admitted to hospital in St Omer on 12 July 1916 he rejoined his unit on 21 July 1916 and was most likely reunited with his brother.  As with all the stories on my blog this one has a tragic ending.  Hugh and Sidney were both on the Somme on 15 September 1916 at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette when they were both killed in action.

Only months earlier the Wilton family had been farewelling their two sons, never would they have imagined that they would lose both their sons in the same battle on the same day

Sidney Wilton is remembered on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial which commemorates more than 1,200 officers and men of the New Zealand Division who died in the Battles of the Somme in 1916, and whose graves are not known.

According to Hugh Wilton's Military record he was buried at the time of the battle.  His body was then exhumed after the war and buried at the Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers.

The men below from the Pahiatua memorial were also killed in action on 15 September 1916:

Eric Mennington Austin, aged 23
  William Henry Cowan, aged 34
John Joseph Doyle
Louth Frederick Peters, aged 25
Hugh Ross, aged 27
Alexander Edward Willoughby, aged 20
Clement Cecil Wills, aged 25

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gunner Harry Selby - Pahiatua Memorial

Harry Selby was the son of Edwin and Mercy Selby born in Masterton on 6 January 1882.  He was fair haired and blue eyed and from all accounts an outgoing and well liked member of the Masterton community.  He worked as a carpenter for the firm Coradine & Whitaker and was an active member of the volunteer Masterton Fire Service.

He enlisted in August 1914 and embarked with the Main Body on 16 October 1914, serving throughout the Gallipoli campaign and then on to the Western Front.  In July 1917 he was awarded the Military Medal for his actions on 2 June 1917 - below is an extract from a letter from Gunner Selby printed in the Wairarapa Daily Times, on 21 September 1917 entitled 'A Masterton Hero'.  I love the line in the letter where he states "It was a fire so I had to be there" his years in the fire brigade certainly put to good use.  He seemed humble about his own award even embarrassed.

London Gazette, 18 July 1917, p7291, Rec No 744: "At Wulverghem on 2nd June 1917. When hostile guns were heavily shelling the Battery position a shell landed on a dump of boxed ammunition causing the boxes to ignite. The fire obtained a good hold and a second explosion seemed imminent, when Fitter Selby and Gunner Belton accompanied by their officer rushed to the dump, and, regardless of the fact that the heat was causing shells to explode on all sides, separated by burning boxes from those untouched. When water arrived they ably assisted their officer to extinguish the fire. A heavy explosion resulting in the loss of several lives and the almost certain discovery of the Battalion position was thus averted."

Gunner Belton was also awarded the Military Medal.

Gunner Harry Selby was seriously wounded on 4 October 1917 at the Battle of Broodseinde in Belgium and died the next day on 5 October 1917 he is buried at Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, below is his obituary with the title 'Masterton Hero" a title he surely deserved.


Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume 43, Issue 133070, 13 October 1917,

Article image

In Gunner Selby's military record I found a small newspaper clipping of a letter written by the father of Gunner F.D. Bell it is a moving account of how Selby saved his son's life.  Gunner Bell survived the war thanks to Harry Selby.

Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume 43, Issue 133081, 26 October 1917

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pahiatua Memorial - Wairarapa

Lieutenant Arthur Grant Ross Crawford - Pahiatua Memorial

Lieutenant Arthur Grant Ross Crawford the son of Robert D. Crawford and Caroline Crawford was born in 1877 at Weston Super Mare, Somerset, England.  His father had been a Master Mariner and  captained convict ships to Western Australia.  Arthur moved to New Zealand joining his brothers Henry Edward Venner Crawford and John Yatman Crawford who were sheep farmers at Kaitawa.  The farm called 'Chelsfield' was named after their fathers family home in Kent, England.

In April 1904 Arthur married Isabella Cunningham and a son was born in 1909.  With war declared in August 1914 Arthur enlisted in September 1915 aged 37 years old, it must have been a difficult decision to make with a wife, a young son and a sheep farm to run especially as some of the farm's shepherds would have enlisted leaving the farm short of valuable manpower.   Nevertheless with a sense of duty Arthur embarked with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles (NZMR) on 10, October 1916 with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

Once in Egypt he transferred to the Imperial Camel Corp (ICC) which had been formed in early 1916 to assist fighting the Senussi (an Islamist movement) on the Libyan/Egyptian border.  Two NZ camel companies 15th and 16th were raised from the reinforcements intended for the NZMR.  In December 1917 Lieut. Crawford was promoted to Lieutenant and appointed 2nd in command of 15th company.  Then on 30 March 1918 (now transferred to 16th Company)  he found himself part of the combined ICC and ANZAC Mounted Division seeking to capture Amman and cut the Hejaz railway which supported Turkish forces further south in the Arab peninsula. Hill 3039 was the high point over looking Amman which together with the Auckland Mounted Rifles had to be taken before Amman could be assaulted.  The weather during the campaign had been atrocious - wet, windy & cold and they were exhausted from the previous days climb. They also had very limited and ineffective artillery support for their uphill assault.

The combined forces succeeded capturing the summit after a night time bayonets only advance. The Turks made several attempts - nearly successful - to recapture the Hill.  Lieut. Crawford was awarded the Military Cross for his actions during the assault on Hill 3039:

'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in action. When the enemy made a determined assault and drove our men from their position he rallied the men, and with great courage and daring led them back to the attack. All day, till wounded, he directed the fire of his machine gun section, continually visiting different parts of the firing line under heavy shell, rifle, and machine gun fire.'
London Gazette. 16 September 1918, p11054.

Despite capturing the key hill and having the Turks at breaking point, the Allied forces were ineffective in following up their gains by strongly attacking Amman town. Further Turkish reinforcements put the Allied force on the back foot and the decision was made to retreat back to the Jordan Valley. Much effort and loss for no gain.

Lieut. Crawford was seriously wounded during the assault receiving gun shot wounds to the right arm, shoulder, chest and head. The nearest dressing station was a 1000 yards from the firing line and there was a shortage of stretchers so blankets had to be used to carry the wounded making the journey an arduous one.  The wounded were then strapped to the back of horses face down to make the 10 mile journey to the nearest casualty clearing station.   The journey would have been horrific and many wounded died en route.  Lieut. Crawford survived the journey and was transported to hospital in Cairo.  He clung onto life until 9 June 1918 when he succumbed to his wounds.

In Lieut. Crawford's military personnel file I found a moving note written by his wife expressing her thanks to Sir James Allen for the Military Cross her husband was awarded.  The note gives us a real insight into the grief the family felt while at the same time being proud of their loved one's sacrifice. Below is an extract from the note:

"Your letter and information means so much to me and to my little son who is just nine years old.  We feel that it helps us both with the anguish of his death which sometimes is to hard to bear, we always knew he would do his duty faithfully whatever the sacrifice....

Lieutenant Arthur Crawford was buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.

Sources used:  Auckland war Museum, Cenotaph database, National Archives, Devils on Horseback by Terry Kinloch, Fiery Ted, Anzac Commander by Micheal Smith, Papers Past, New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, Victoria University.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Eketahuna War Memorial

Killed in Action 7 June 1917 - Eketahuna Memorial

The Messines offensive in Belgium began on 7 June 1917 and was a victory for the Allies, which came at a cost.

The offensive began at 3.10am when 19 huge mines were detonated under the German trenches.  The explosion was the largest and loudest of its time and it is said it could be heard in London.  10,000 Germans were killed as a result of the explosions.

Allied casualties to begin with were light but as the Germans began to reorganise themselves the number of casualties grew.  By 9 June, 1917 when the New Zealand Division was relieved it had suffered 3,700 casualties, 700 of whom died.

Remembered below are five young New Zealand men all aged 25 who are listed on the Eketahuna Memorial and were killed in action on 7 June, 1917 at Messines. 

Rifleman Edwin Christensen was the son of Danish immigrants  Lauritz and Nielsine Christensen, of Putara, Eketahuna, he worked with his father on the family farm at Putara.  Edwin Christensen enlisted on 29 May, 1916 and embarked from Wellington aboard the 'Devon' on 25 September, 1916 with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.   The ship arrived at Devonport, England on 21 November, 1916 and the troops were marched into Sling Camp on the same day.  Whilst at Sling camp Edwin qualified as a marksmen.  On 7 June, 1917 Rifleman Christensen was killed in action at Messines aged 25 and is remembered at the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial, Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Belgium.

Lieutenant John Wesley Cobb was the son of Harriet Sophia Cobb and the late Mr Cobb of Palmerston North.   He worked as a carpenter for A.G. Hoar of Eketahuna and was keen to enlist doing so on 19 August, 1914 at Masterton and embarking with the Main Body on the 16 October 1914.  At Gallipoli he was wounded receiving a gun shot wound to the thigh.

After he recovered he rejoined his unit on 28 August, 1915 and was promoted to Company Sergeant Major on New Years Day 1916.  Before embarking for France he was transferred to the Auckland Infantry Battalion and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.

Once in France 2nd Lieutenant Cobb was attached to the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company - his carpentry skills would have been put to good use building the supports in the tunnel shafts and later he was attached to the NZ Tunnelling Company.  During January 1917 he rejoined the Auckland Infantry Battalion in the field and in May 1917 was promoted to a full Lieutenant.  At Messines on 7 June, 1917 aged 25 years he was reported missing believed dead and then on 9 June, 1917 confirmed killed in action.  He is remembered at the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial, Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Belgium.

By the time of his death Lieut. Cobb was an experienced soldier who had seen much action.  The photograph of him printed in the Auckland Weekly News after his death shows a man much changed from 1915.  In the photo above Lieut. Cobb is gaunt looking and his eyes have a sad, haunted look about them, reflecting the horrors he has witnessed.

Below is a notice from the Poverty Bay Herald reporting his death.  The relative mentioned at the end of the notice was George Lynch Cobb a cabinet maker from Palmerston North and a member of the NZ Medical Corp who drowned at sea whilst aboard the hospital ship 'Marama' during a storm on 27 May 1917:

Advice has been received in Palmerston that "Lieut. John Wesley Cobb, son of Mrs Cobb, and brother of Mr R. C. Cobb, of Palmerston, is missing, and is believed to be  killed. Lieut. Cobb was a Main Body man, with a long record of service. He was a carpenter by trade and enlisted when war broke out from Eketahuna. He was in camp at Awapuni with the Main Body as a sergeant in the Ruahine Regiment. He was wounded on Gallipoli, and after recovering returned in time for the evacuation. Later he went to France, where he saw heavy fighting, and won a commission. He was transferred to the Australian Tunnellers, eventually joining the 1st Auckland Infantry Battalion, 15th company. His relatives will have general sympathy in their loss, especially as it follows closely on the reported death of another member of the family on active service. 

Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLIV, Issue 14326, 16 June 1917

Private Thomas Edward Hodgins son of Thomas and Mary B. Hodgins, of Cambridge St., Pahiatua and a farmer embarked on 15 November, 1916 with his brother Charles Henry Hodgins both were assigned to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. On 7, June 1917 aged 25, Private T. Hodgins was killed in action at Messines and like many others is remembered on the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial, Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Belgium.

Private Graham Groves Matheson the son of William Brooklyn Matheson of Tiratahi, Eketahuna was the sole school teacher at Pirinoa.  He initially volunteered in 1914 but was rejected as medically unfit because of eye trouble.  However he finally embarked on 26 June, 1916. Once he reached France he was attached to the 1st NZ Light Trench Mortar Battery.  He was killed in action on 7 June, 1917 at Messines, I found a small account of his death posted on the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, Victoria University, Wellington and the delightful picture of the man himself below:

... he got safely through with the rest of his gun crew, and they had dug themselves in, but the German gun fire in the night was very heavy, and he was killed by a shell. 

G. G. Matheson 

Lance Corporal Enoch Sutton born in Darlington, England came to New Zealand in September 1914 aboard the 'Ruahine" most likely as an assisted immigrant. As his mother was a widow and had six children to care for Enoch likely left hoping for a better life.  He found work as a grocer's assistant for A.H. Herbert in Alfredton but soon enlisted on 15 February, 1915.  He embarked with the Wellington Infantry Regiment on 14 August, 1915 and arrived back in England in September only a year after he had originally left.  Wounded in action on 20 July, 1916, once recovered he rejoined his unit at the end of August 1916.  He was killed in action on 8 June 1917 at Messines aged 25 years and is buried at the Messines Ridge, British Cemetery, Belgium.  After his death his mother came to New Zealand in 1921 and settled in Lower Hutt.  I also discovered his younger brother Stanley Sutton had also immigrated to New Zealand and served with the NZ Division and survived the war.

Sources used: Cenotaph Database, Auckland War Memorial Museum, NZETC Victoria University Library, Wellington, NZ National Archives, Papers Past,, Find my, Department of Internal Affairs Historical Birth, Deaths & Marriage.

Monday, August 27, 2012

More heroes from the Carterton Memorial

Sergeant James Nicholas O'Donnell a carpenter from Carterton embarked 26 April 1917 attached to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  He was awarded a Military Medal for gallantry for and his actions which have been remembered in several books on the Great War.  He was killed in action on 3 November 1918 at the relief of Le Quesnoy only days before the armistice. 

London Gazette, 16 July 1918, p8334, Rec No 2074: For conspicuous gallantry and coolness during the operations on the right of Hebuterne on the morning of the 27th March 1918. In charge of a section of 20 men, the enemy surrounded his party, calling on them to surrender. Lance Corporal O'Donnell at once charged the enemy with bayonet and, calling on his party to follow him, succeeded in driving the enemy back, inflicting heavy casualties. His magnificent example greatly inspired his men. 

Trooper Neil Mclaren Douglas embarked with the 15th Reinforcements, NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade on 13 July 1916.  He received a Military Medal for gallant conduct during an attack on Beerseba on 31 October 1917 where he was slightly wounded and remained with his unit, the following link is an account of the attack Beersheba is in Southern Israel.   Almost a year later, on 6 October 1918 he was admitted to hospital sick with Malaria.  He never recovered and died on 19 October 1918.  He was buried at the Ramleh War Cemetery the next day.

Trooper John Leybourne Grace's war was a short one and he did not win any medals for gallantry but he should like all those who gave the utlimate sacrifice be remembered as a hero.  The only son of the late Nathaniel Grace and Emily Grace of Carterton he was keen to enlist.  A  shepherd on the Ngakonui farm a hill country farm South East of Martinborough  he enlisted at Dannevirke on 12 August 1914 where he stated his date of birth as 4 November 1893 making him 20 years old and eligible for enlistment (20 years old being the minimum age for enlistment).  However further research on the Department of Internal Affairs death register revealed that his birth was registered in 1895 thus he was underage.  Trooper Grace embarked with the main body on 16 October 1914 and was killed in action at Gallipoli on 30 May 1915 aged 19 years old. 

The grief felt by his mother at losing her only son in a battle he was too young to fight is unimaginable - I wonder if she had, had any notion that her son had enlisted under age before he turned up in uniform to say goodbye before embarking  Dannevirke is a fair distance from his place of employment and Carterton where his mother lived and he most likely enlisted there as his real age would have been unknown to the local people.  This of course is not a unique story as many young men lied about their age and some older men too (the maximum age was 38 years) so that they too could do their bit for King and country.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

William Farquharson Bey - Carterton Memorial

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Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume LXX, Issue 146143, 2 January 1917

William Bey was the only son of Dr William and Eveline D'Ainslie Bey of Greytown he embarked on 26 April 1917 with the 25th reinforcements aboard the Tofua from Wellington.  He was killed in action on 25 August 1918 at Bapaume aged 32. Below are two accounts of his life and death:

"Killed in action on August 25th, 1917 [sic], enlisted as a private in the 1st Battalion Otago Regiment, and left with the 25th Reinforcements. Before his death he had attained the rank of Sergeant, and the same morning had taken part in a stunt to capture a certain objective close to Bapaume, when he was mortally wounded by a bursting shell. As he was brought in to R.A.P. he gradually but quietly sank, and was buried near the village of Biefvillers close to the scene of his last fight. He studied electrical engineering in Wellington after leaving school, but later relinquished it in order to farm the Springbank Estate, Gladstone. His demeanour under the most trying conditions was always excellent. He knew no fear, and died as he had lived, a brave man, caring for nothing but the knowledge that he had done his duty." (In Memoriam, 1914-1918 [Wanganui Collegiate School])

 Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 75, 25 September 1918 

Sadly for the Bey family more sorrow follow only weeks later when William's father (Dr W Bey) died from the influenza epidemic on 14 November 1918.   His son William is remembered on his headstone.

Gunner James Kay Strang with whom Bey had been given a 'hearty send off' survived the war but lost his brother Captain John Donald Kay Strang at the Somme on 15 September 1916 aged 22 years.  He had a distinguished military record being mentioned in dispatches twice.  John Donald Kay Strange is also commemorated on the Carterton Memorial.