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2nd Canterbury Battalion, New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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2nd Canterbury Battalion, New Zealand Expeditionary Force

7th Jun 1918 Reliefs  Map

5th Nov 1918 In the Line  Map

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Want to know more about 2nd Canterbury Battalion, New Zealand Expeditionary Force?

There are:2 pages and articles tagged 2nd Canterbury Battalion, New Zealand Expeditionary Force available in our Library

Those known to have served with

2nd Canterbury Battalion, New Zealand Expeditionary Force

during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Egan Gerald Joseph. Pte.
  • Hughes Frank. Pte. (d.28th Aug 1916)
  • Hughes Frank. Pte. (d.25th Aug 1916)
  • Jennings Albert Charles. Sjt. (d.7th Jun 1917)
  • Labrom George Richard Henry. Sergeant

All names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Feb 2018

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Pte. Gerald Joseph Egan 3rd Btn. 12th Coy. Canterbury Infantry

The New Zealand government started a campaign to provide for sale, at favourable prices, lots of farming land in the Nelson locality on South Island. This involved the break-up of large 25,000 acre, sheep farms. In 1910 William Egan, Maltster, and fourth eldest son of Henry Egan, merchant, Tullamore decided to take advantage of the scheme and emigrated to Marlborough, Blenheim, South Island, at the age of 28. William J. settled and first farmed in the Atatere Valley having lodged at the Marlborough Hotel, Blenheim. As a pioneering farmer, the Awatere was a tough environment and upon hearing of pip fruit orchard land for sale, decided to sell and move further North to Neudorf, Upper Moutere, near Nelson. By now he owned under mortgages both a small hotel in Cape Campbell/Marlborough as well as an apple farm in Neudorf. Around 1912, he was joined at Neudorf by his younger brother Gerald Joseph Egan, a student in the bank in Ireland and sixth son of Henry Egan, at the time aged 20.

The menace of war was on the horizon in Europe and the young six foot tall and fit Gerald J. enlisted at Nelson on the 18th August 1914, three weeks after Britain declared war on the Germans. He joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. After 88 days of training drills Private Gerald Joseph Egan bade farewell to his brother William for the last time as he was shipped off to Egypt. He was to spend 3 years and 155 days in action in the Great War. It was not Private Gerald Egan who was to die prematurely, but sadly, his older brother William who died of heart failure at Moutuka Hospital interred therein for seven days suffering pneumonia. William had spent six years in New Zealand and at the tender age of 34 passed away on the 18th November 1916.

From Alexandria, Gerald served time with the ANZAC forces, having fought and survived at the Dardanelles, as well as at Mudros and Imbros and Galapolli in 1915. He was discharged to base at Alexandria, suffering dysentery, and later jaundice. Once discharged from hospital, he was then shipped to the Western front in Belgium after training at 2nd Army Sniper school at Sling, Wiltshire. As part of the 3rd Canterbury Infantry Battalion he was to serve and survive the brutality of the Battle of Messiers, a prelude to the Battle of Ypres. In taking the strategically important and well-fortified German held village of Messiers, Egan sustained a gunshot wound to his right knee and was removed via field ambulance to the South African field hospital on the 7th June 1917. Between 1st and 14th June ANZAC forces lost 4,978 men and the Germans lost 23,000.

He was transferred to Abbeville, Rouen in France and onto Bathurst and lost his right leg to amputation on the 22nd Jan 1918. He was declared unfit for further action on 28th January 1918 and was shipped back to home-base through Liverpool bound for Mauaganui, New Zealand on board the Encouibo.

He was decorated with three medals: the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Gerald Joseph was discharged on army pension on the 16th April 1918. He died unmarried and alone on the 31st January 1959 at 44 Austin Street, Wellington. The Coroner conducted a post mortem but decided, under the circumstances, not to conduct an inquest. His remains are interred at Karori, Wellington.

Maurice Egan


Pte. Frank Hughes 2nd Btn. Canterbury Regiment (d.25th Aug 1916)

Ptivate Frank Hughes served with the 2nd Battalion, Canterbury Regiment as part of the New Zaland Expeditionary Force. He was executed for desertion on 25th Sugust 1916 aged 28 and was buried in Hallencourt Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.

His crime is recorded as Poor military/disciplinary record. Deserted en route to the front. After being found guilty of desertion, 28-year-old Private Frank Hughes was shot by firing squad in the French village of Hallencourt. He was the first New Zealand soldier executed during the First World War.

Born in Gore in 1888, Frank worked as a builder’s labourer in Wellington before enlisting in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF). He departed New Zealand with the 10th Reinforcements and arrived in France in late April 1916. A month later he joined the 12th (Nelson) Company, 2nd Battalion, Canterbury Regiment.

Hughes, a heavy drinker, was in trouble from the start. By late July 1916 he had been hauled before his commanding officer three times for ill-discipline. On 26th July a Field General Court Martial found him guilty of ‘absenting himself without leave’ and sentenced him to one year’s imprisonment with hard labour. This sentence was suspended after review and Hughes was issued a final warning.

Released from custody, Hughes had only just rejoined his unit in the trenches when he disappeared again on the afternoon of 29th July 1916. Eleven days later Military Police found him asleep in an abandoned house in Armentières. Asked what he was doing, he replied: ‘I’ve come for a sleep ... I’ve been away six days.’

On 12th August 1916, Hughes appeared before a Field General Court Martial at Armentières, charged with ‘Deserting His Majesty’s Service’. He pleaded not guilty, blaming his behaviour on alcohol: ‘Owing to the effect of drink I was light-headed and wandered out of the trench. I knocked round town until I was arrested. I intended to give myself up as soon as the Police came to me. While in town I was drinking.’

Despite his protestations Hughes was found guilty and sentenced to ‘suffer death by being shot’. At the end of the trial, he was remanded in custody until sentencing was confirmed by the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, on 22nd August 1916. Two days later, and 12 days after his court martial, Hughes was told his fate.

The execution was carried out the next morning in an orchard in the village of Hallencourt. Hughes was led from his cell and placed against a tree. He was offered a blindfold but refused, reportedly saying: ‘Don’t put the bandage over my eyes – I want to see them shoot.’ At 5.50 a.m. the firing squad, made up of men from the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion, opened fire. Hughes was buried in the Hallencourt Communal Cemetery, next to where the execution took place.

Frank Hughes was one of 28 members of the NZEF sentenced to death during the war. Of these, only five were sent before the firing squad: Hughes, Private John Sweeney, Private John Braithwaite, Private John King, and Private Victor Spencer. All but one (Braithwaite) were tried and executed by New Zealand military authorities for desertion.

s flynn


Pte. Frank Hughes 2nd Btn. Canterbury Infantry Regiment (d.28th Aug 1916)

Frank Hughes was executed for poor military disciplinary record. He deserted en route to the front and the first New Zealander executed during World War 1 for crimes against military laws. The charge was 'A.A. Sec.12 (1A) When on active service deserting His Majesty's Service in that he in the field between 1530 & 2130 on 29th July 1916 did absent himself without leave from his unit in the front line trenches (T82) & was absent until apprehended by the Military Foot Police at 0600 on 9th August 1916. He was posthumously pardoned on 14 September 2000, when New Zealand's Pardon for Soldiers of the Great War Act became law.

S Flynn


Sergeant George Richard Henry Labrom Canterbury

My great uncle, George Labrom, was born in Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland on 12th February 1884. He emigrated to New Zealand and died in Aukland in 1949. From the excellent New Zealand records I can see that he enlisted in the army and on the 13th of November 1916 he was posted to F company 23rd Btn. On the 2nd of April 1917 he embarked from Wellington and on the 10th of June disembarked at Devonport with the 4th Reserves Battalion, Canterbury Regiment. He is listed on the Nominal rolls at Sling camp with the rank of Private. The 4th Reserves Battalion Canterbury Regiment, Proceeded overseas and left for France on the 6 July 1917. On the 9th of July they marched into camp at Etaples. On the 24 July George joined 3rd Battalion Canterbury Regiment and was posted to 12 company in Rouen. In October 1917 he was wounded (gassed) in the field and was admitted no 1 New Zealand Field Ambulance, then admitted no 3 Australian casualty clearing post (gassed - mustard gas shell.) On the 19th of October he was admitted no 10 General hospital Rouen (gas poisoning) and on the 23rd he embarked on the Hospital Ship Essequibo for England. The following day he was admitted to 1st New Zealand General Hospital Brockenhurst. In December he was transferred to New Zealand Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch and by the 18 January 1918 he had recovered enough to return to duty at the New Zealand Company Depot at Codford. On the 14th May 1918 he rejoined 3rd Reserve Battalion Canterbury Regiment and proceeded overseas from Sling. On the 19th May he joined No 2 New Zealand Ent Battalion and on the 28th transferred to 2nd Battalion Canterbury Regiment and was appointed Lance Corporal. On the 14th of February 1919 he was with the South Island Battalion and was appointed Lance Sergeant. Finally on the 31st of May 1919 he left Plymouth and embarked for New Zealand onboard His Majesty's Troopship Kigoma.

Throughout WW2 George served in the New Zealand Home Defence. He never married and died alone in his room in a boarding house in 1949. He was buried on 7th September 1949 at Waikumete cemetery, Block K, section 14, no 58, soldiers portion. When I was researching George on the Internet I found that his war medals had recently been sold on the Trademe Internet auction site but I was sadly unable to track them down. The details were: British War Medal 1914-1918 and The Victory Medal Reserve met Closed: Sun 29 Apr 2012, 8:49 pm Listing #: 469032204 Awarded to George Richard Henry Labrom who was a member of the Wanganui District (Group 20) detachment for the 23rd Reinforcements of the NZ Expeditionary Force. Both medals are inscribed around their edges: 40017 T/SJT G.R.H Labrom NZEF

My grandfather, Robert Frederick Labron and his brothers, William John Labrom and George Richard Henry Labrom appear on a plaque in St Patrick's Church, Newry. (My grandfather always spelled his surname Labron). All three were in the army in World War One and all three survived.

Sue Eynon

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