My goal is to personally visit and collate information from 100 New Zealand World War One memorials throughout New Zealand by August 2014 to commemorate the Centenary of World War One and to remember those who paid the ultimate price.
In Memoriam, 1914-1918 [Wanganui Collegiate School], Wanganui Chronicle Co. Ltd.
Edward St George Gorton known as Jack was the youngest son of the late Lieutenant Colonel Edward and Nora Mary Stephenson Gorton. Born in 1881 he was educated along with his brothers at Wanganui Collegiate School. In 1902 he headed to Argentina to join his brother where they both ran large farms from which they hoped to make their fortune before eventually returning to New Zealand. At the outbreak of war and Jack quickly left Argentina and headed for Britain where he enlisted with the New Zealand Engineers.
He embarked for Gallipoli on 12 April 1915 where he was wounded on 16 May 1915 receiving shrapnel wounds to his back and right arm. After being hospitalised in Alexandria and Cairo he returned to Gallipoli in August 1915. Whilst recovering from his wounds he would have received the sad news of the death of his brother Denis in Buenos Aires. Jack distinguished himself in Gallipoli and is mentioned in the records.
After the evacuation from Gallipoli he served on the Western Front with the Engineers where he was killed in action on 11 January 1918 he is buried at Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium, he was 37 years old. Below is a extract from In Memoriam, 1914-1918, Wanganui Collegiate School: The evening before his death he received instructions to leave for a
commission in England, but asked permission to go out and finish a job
he had not completed. While doing this he was instantly killed by a
shell. He was in the Engineers and very keen on his work. Had he been a
little less so he would in all probability be alive today.
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.
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.
Raymond John Ambury was born at Cheltenham, England on 17 September 1886. He was one of four sons of Arthur and Emily Ambury. The family had emigrated to New Zealand in 1893 where Arthur Ambury ran a successful drapers store with his brother.
In December 1915 Raymond married Mildred Oxenham at New Plymouth, they had no children. Prior to enlisting Raymond was an ordained Baptist minister preaching at Bulls: he was called up in the ninth ballot and embarked on 16 November 1917 with the 32nd Reinforcements Wellington Infantry Regiment. He was initially posted to active service in France as a member of the No 1 NZ Entrenching Battalion, then in April he was transferred back to the Wellington Infantry Battalion. On 30 August 1918 he was killed in action, aged 31 and is buried at Bancourt British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France. Below is an obituary from the Wanganui Chronicle:
Wanganui Chronicle, Volume LXVI, Issue 17384, 21 September 1918
Raymond and his wife had barely spent two years together and she must have been heartbroken at the news of his death, their life together cut short. For Raymond's parents the news of Raymond's death came only months after their son Arthur Ambury had been killed in a climbing accident on Mt Taranaki (known then as Mount Egmont). Arthur had fallen to his death while attempting to rescue a fellow climber William Gourlay and by all accounts knew the risk he took while doing so. Arthur was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal for Bravery which may have been of some consolation to his wife and their 4 children. A memorial to Arthur's bravery was erected at Mount Taranaki and is still there today.
Both Raymond and Arthur were selfless in their sacrifice, as a member of the clergy Raymond was exempt from overseas service but when his name was called in the ballot he voluntarily went as a normal soldier and Arthur an experienced mountaineer knew the risk he was taking when he tried to save the younger less experienced climber.
John Edward Bell and Alexander Law Bell
where the sons of Edward and Mary Bell of Ngaruawahia. John was a
bushman and Alexander a drover before enlisting, they embarked together
on 17 April 1915 from Wellington with the field artillery as part of
the 4th Reinforcements.
served during the Gallipoli Campaign where Alexander was struck down
with Diphtheria: after several weeks of treatment in the Middle East he
was sent back to New Zealand at the end September 1915. Shortly after his
departure his brother John was wounded on 4 October 1915 he recovered and
after Gallipoli went on to France with the rest of the New Zealand
Expeditionary Force. Back in New Zealand Alexander enlisted again in
May 1917 and embarked for the second time with the 32nd Reinforcements,
New Zealand Field Artillery (NZFA) on 21 November 1917.
before Alexander was able to be reunited with his brother at the Front
John was killed in action in Belgium on 17 June 1917, he was 27 years
old and is buried at Strand Military Cemetery, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium.
The death of his brother would no doubt have been on Alexander's mind
as he arrived at the Front. Just over a year later Alexander
himself died of his wounds on 9 August 1918 in France. His age at death
is recorded as 21 years on his CWGC (Commonwealth Grave Commission)
entry. I checked to see when Alexander's birth was registered which it
was in 1897, if this was the year he was born it would have meant
he was only 17/18 years old when he enlisted. Alexander is buried at Couin New British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France.
story of two brothers enlisting together and not returning is sadly not
a unique one on the: Ngaruawahia memorial alone there are five sets of
brothers recorded who gave their lives.