Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Tim Keating, the Chief of Defence Force, today announced the inclusion of six New Zealand First World War soldiers on the New Zealand and Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s official rolls of honour.
The decision to include these servicemen is the result of ongoing research into service personnel files carried out by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Historian.
“In the majority of these cases, the military authorities at the time acknowledged their deaths were as a direct result of their service with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force but, for various reasons, their names were not entered on the rolls of honour.
“It is important that these soldiers are now formally recognised. They, like more than 18,000 of their countrymen, died as a result of their service to New Zealand in the First World War,” says LTGEN Keating.
The six soldiers are Private Arthur Joseph Best, Private David Falconer, Trooper Matthew Gallagher, Private Percy Hawken, Sapper Robert Arthur Hislop and Private Lester Edward Quintall.
The decision has been forwarded to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage for inclusion on the National War Memorial Roll of Honour and to notify the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Sarah Ingram, Heritage Services Branch Manager for the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, says the Ministry will take over the care of the graves in perpetuity.
“The Ministry, as agent for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, will assess the state of the graves and make arrangements for their refurbishment where necessary.
“We have already made arrangements for Sapper Robert Arthur Hislop’s grave to be refurbished in time for the centenary of his death,” Ms Ingram says.
The NZDF and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage have arranged to conduct a small service with Sapper Hislop’s family on 19 August at Waikumete cemetery to mark the centenary of his death. Sapper Hislop will now be recognised as the first New Zealand casualty during the First World War.
There are 3,478 New Zealand casualties of the two World Wars commemorated in New Zealand in a total of 433 sites throughout the country. This figure includes 570 casualties of both World Wars with no known grave who are commemorated on the Auckland Memorial in Devonport and on provincial memorials in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington.
As an agent for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Ministry inspects the graves every two years and arranges for their cleaning and repair when needed. The Ministry also looks after Commonwealth graves and memorials to the missing in New Caledonia, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Society Islands.
Prepared by John Crawford, NZDF Historian
Private Arthur Joseph Best, No. 10/2072
Summary of Service: Arthur Joseph Best attested into the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) on 15 February 1915. On 8 August 1915 while serving with the Wellington Infantry Battalion at Gallipoli, Best suffered severe gunshot wounds to the head and a forearm. He was evacuated to the United Kingdom where he was in hospital until November 1916, after which he was transferred to a convalescence depot. Best returned to New Zealand in March 1917 and was discharged from the NZEF on 4 April 1917 as being no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action.
Circumstances of Death: On 19 October 1920 Arthur Best committed suicide by shooting himself at his home in Kairanga, near Palmerston North. His brother Harold who lived with him, testified that Arthur's "vacancy and despondency caused me to worry so much over him. He wanted to be by himself all the time. This lasted for about six months after his return [from overseas] . . . There was no recurrence of this trouble until about a fortnight or three weeks ago." His brother thought that Arthur’s depression had been brought on by worry over a farm he was planning to buy and also noted that there was a history of suicide in his family. Their mother had committed suicide when Arthur was a few months old and a sister had killed herself early in 1920. The coroner found that Arthur Best "had no financial or other worries but had been badly wounded in the head at Gallipoli and had suffered severe mental depression from this cause, and this fact was no doubt not unconnected with his sudden rash act, which does not seem to have been premeditated".
Conclusion: Arthur Best's death was noted by the military authorities on his NZEF personal file. The memorial plaque and scroll issued by the New Zealand government to the next of kin of NZEF personnel who died as result of their war service was not issued to Best's next of kin. There is now a well-established link between serious head injuries and depression and suicide. The evidence given by Harold Best and the finding by the coroner who investigated Arthur Best's death strongly indicate that his suicide was attributable to his war service and he should, therefore, be added to the appropriate rolls of honour.
Private David Falconer, No. 11/953
Summary of Service: David Falconer attested into the NZEF on 12 December 1914. He briefly served at Gallipoli with the Wellington Mounted Rifles and then transferred to the 2nd Battalion Wellington Infantry Regiment. In France on 15 September 1916 he suffered a serious gunshot wound to the head. He was hospitalised until embarking for New Zealand in March 1917. He returned to New Zealand in May 1917 and was discharged from the NZEF on 11 June 1917 as being no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action.
Circumstances of Death: David Falconer fatally shot himself on the family farm in the Wairarapa on 15 May 1919. In the months before his death he had appeared generally well, but had on occasion complained about the ongoing effects of his wound. Falconer's father received the memorial plaque and scroll given by the New Zealand government to the next of kin of all NZEF personnel whose death was attributable to their war service.
Conclusion: Private David Falconer's medical history, the evidence given to the coroner after his suicide, our knowledge of the link between serious head injuries and suicide and the fact that his next of kin were given the memorial plaque and scroll together constitute overwhelming evidence that his death was attributable to his war service and that he should be added to the appropriate rolls of honour.
Trooper Matthew Gallagher, [no known service number]
Summary of Service: There is no surviving personal file for Trooper Matthew Gallagher. It has proved impossible to establish when exactly he volunteered for service in the NZEF, but it was apparently before 16 August 1914 as on that date or a day or two earlier the Kaiapoi Working Men's Club agreed to pay for the purchase of a horse and other equipment for Gallagher. He was probably one of the volunteers who poured into the mobilisation camp at Addington in Christchurch between 12 and 16 August. He was initially enlisted into the Canterbury Infantry Battalion, but late in August transferred to B Squadron of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles.
Circumstances of Death: On the evening of the 30 August 1914 Trooper Gallagher was standing on the rear platform of a tram travelling from Cathedral Square to the mobilisation camp at Addington when he fell hitting his head on the road. Gallagher suffered a severe head injury and died before he reached hospital. His funeral was held on 2 September 1914. It was attended by the officers and men of his squadron, the Canterbury Infantry Battalion’s band and senior officers. Gallagher's death was examined by a coroner and by a board of officers convened at the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel John Findlay, the Commanding Officer of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles. Both enquiries concluded that his death was the result of an accident. Gallagher's parents were people of limited means and the military authorities agreed to assist with the cost of a funeral. In 1920 Gallagher's mother applied for a war pension, but it has proved impossible to establish if her application was successful.
Conclusion: Although there is no surviving personal file for Trooper Matthew Gallagher, it is clear from the available evidence that at the time of his death he was serving in the NZEF. Trooper Matthew Gallagher, therefore, qualifies for inclusion in the appropriate First World War rolls of honour.
Private Percy Hawken, No. 6/256
Summary of Service: Percy Hawken was attested into the NZEF on 13 August 1914 and was posted to the Canterbury Infantry Battalion. Hawken left New Zealand in October 1914 and served in Egypt between December 1914 and April 1915. He served with the Canterbury Battalion at Gallipoli between April and August 1915. On 18 August 1915 he was admitted to hospital at Gallipoli with enteric fever (typhoid fever) and then evacuated to Egypt. After further treatment in Egypt he was invalided back to New Zealand where he arrived on 2 January 1916. On 27 March 1916 he was discharged from the NZEF as no longer fit for war service.
Circumstances of Death: On 11 June 1916 Hawken died of poliomyelitis at Motueka. His death was noted by the Defence authorities, but they had no details as to the cause of death. Hawken’s name was not included in The Great War, 1914-1918: New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Roll of Honour. Although in 1923 a grave form was prepared for Hawken I have found no evidence that consideration was given to his inclusion in the NZEF Roll of Honour at this time when it appears the Defence authorities checked the records of many deceased ex-NZEF personnel to see if they should be included on the roll. Hawken's case has been reviewed by the War Pensions Claims Panel, which concluded that while polio and typhoid are different disease processes and not related. The risk factors for polio include immune deficiency and malnutrition. It is likely that Mr Hawken would have had an increased risk as result of the enteric fever. Death is therefore considered attributable to his war service.
Conclusion: Private Percy Hawken’s serious illness during his service in the NZEF, his death within three months of being discharged and the findings of the War Pensions Claims Panel together constitute a sound basis for concluding that his death was attributable to his war service and that he should be added to the appropriate rolls of honour.
Sapper Robert Arthur Hislop, [no known service number]
Summary of Service: At the time of the outbreak of the First World War elements of the New Zealand Territorial Force were mobilised to man the coastal defences at the four main centres and to guard a range of other key points. In Wellington, for example the harbour defences were manned and a detachment from the Post and Telegraph Corps’ North Island Battalion was detailed to guard the point where the international telegraph cable came ashore.
Circumstances of Death: On the evening of 13 August 1914 a picket consisting of a corporal and two sappers from the North Island Railway Battalion was tasked with guarding the Parnell railway bridge. The corporal in command of the picket was speaking to the other member of the picket when Sapper Robert Arthur Hislop, who had moved to Auckland only six weeks earlier, fell between the sleepers of the bridge onto the roadway below. Hislop suffered serious injuries from which he died in Auckland District Hospital on 19 August. He received a military funeral attended by both officers and men from the Territorial Force and the NZEF.
Conclusion: Sapper Robert Arthur Hislop’s death was clearly related to his military service during the First World War. Territorials killed under similar circumstances during the Second World War are included on the National War Memorial Second World War roll of honour. Robert Hislop should, therefore, be added to the appropriate First World War rolls of honour. If Sapper Hislop is added to the appropriate First World War rolls of honour he will be officially acknowledged as the first member of the New Zealand Armed Forces to die as result of their service during the First World War.
Private Lester Edward Quintall, No. 12/1776
Summary of Service: Lester Edward Quintall attested into the NZEF on 30 December 1914. He sailed for Egypt in February 1915. Between June and August 1915 while serving at Gallipoli with the Auckland Infantry Battalion he was twice admitted to hospital with influenza, and during the same period he was once admitted to hospital on Mudros suffering from dysentery. Quintall was evacuated from Gallipoli suffering from influenza in August 1915 and was hospitalised in Egypt. He returned to New Zealand in October 1915. After further treatment and periods of sick leave Quintall was discharged from the NZEF as no longer physically fit for war service on 10 May 1916. His personal file notes that he was suffering from asthma as result of his war service, but unfortunately Quintall's medical papers and correspondence were merged with his pension file in 1926 and this was subsequently lost.
Circumstances of Death: on 2 May 1919 Lester Quintall died of tuberculosis on Norfolk Island. His death was noted on his NZEF personal file. On 11 December 1930, Quintall's next of kin were sent the memorial plaque and scroll given by the New Zealand government to the next of kin of all NZEF personnel whose death was attributable to their war service.
Conclusion: The few surviving references to Lester Quintall's medical conditions make it clear that he developed serious problems with his lungs while serving in the NZEF. His next of kin would not have been issued with the memorial plaque and scroll unless the New Zealand authorities were satisfied that Quintall's death was attributable to his war service. This decision may well have been based on evidence that is no longer in existence because of the purging of NZEF personal files. Private Lester Edward Quintall should, therefore, be added to the appropriate First World War rolls of honour. The Secretary for War Pensions has also reviewed this case and concluded that Quintall’s death was attributable to his war service and that he should be added to the appropriate rolls of honour.
Updated on 23rd July 2015