William Forsyth – New Zealand Army WW1

William James Forsyth was born on the 16th of August 1888 at Coutts Island, Canterbury, New Zealand.

He was my Great Grand Uncle, the second youngest son of my great great grandparents, Robert and Jessie Forsyth (nee Farquhar).

We are yet to find out when and where he died.

William enlisted in the Auckland Military Rifles NZEF on the 15th of June 1915.  He was single and 27 years of age.  Next of kin was his mother, Mrs Forsyth, widow, of  Waitoa.

William Forsyth

‘ Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19170823-41-34 ‘

His regiment embarked for Suez, Egypt on the 14th of August 1915 from Wellington on board HMNZT 28 vessel Tofua.  They arrived on the 19th of September 1915.

rank order cropped

On the 3rd of October 1915 William was posted as a trooper to the Auckland Mounted Rifles at Mudros and in early November he was admitted to hospital with Typhoid.  This must have affected his health as from that time he spent many of the coming months in various hospitals.  They embarked to Alexandria on the H.S. Delta on the 27th of December where William was admitted to hospital again on the 28th with enteritis and transferred to the NZ general hospital at Cairo on the 24th of January.  From there he went on to a convalescent camp in February then back to the hospital at Cairo.  On the 15th of March he was admitted to a convalescent home at Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo and was finally discharged to duty on the 29th of March 1916.

On the 16th of April 1916 he was posted to the Mounted Rifles Training regiment and then on to the second infantry brigade at Tel-el-kebir on the 2nd of May.  From there he proceeded to France where some time was spent at Ètaples training depot before joining the 2nd Battalion, 4th Coy of the Otago regiment on the 27th of June 1916 at Houplines.

At the end of July William had to forfeit 7 days full pay for falling out from a parade without permission!

Nothing further was written on his record for ten months.

In France he was wounded in action, suffering a gunshot wound to the left shoulder on the 26th of May 1917.  He was evacuated to hospital on the 28th.  The 10th of June that year saw him sent to England and various convalescent hospitals over the next 5 months.  During that period he apparently overstayed leave.  One record says he had to forfeit ten days pay,  another says one days pay.

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On the 30th of November 1917 he was attached to the NZ command depot at Codford.

It is mentioned that he took a railway journey from Aberdeen to Fraserburgh.  William had relatives there, had he gone to visit them?

Again from January to June 1918 he was in and out of hospital.  June 1918 found him at Sling  and then by the end of that year he was back at Codford.

In January 1919 William went A.W.L (absent without leave) and had to forfeit 28 days pay, did 28 days detention and another 48 days pay RW, whatever that means.

On the 18th of March 1919 he embarked for New Zealand per Tainui.  William was discharged on the 28th of May 1919.

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In January 1920 William was employed in the medal engraving section and promoted to Corporal.

On the 14th of July 1921 he was discharged.  We have yet to find further information on William Forsyth.

sources – Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database


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