Topic: Ralph Whakatane Anson / Raoul Whakatane Anson

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Private Ralph Whakatane Anson, (Service no. 72052) was a First World War soldier with links to Heathcote.

Raoul Whakatane Anson – Ralph Whakatane Anson 4 June 1892 – 26 October 1918

Born in the small town of Courtenay, nearly 4km from Kirwee and 38 Km from Christchurch, Ralph Whakatane Anson was one of a large family and was born on 4th June 1892, and his parents were Thomas Hamilton Anson and mother Henrietta Ann (nee Gorle). 

Ralph's father, Thomas Hamilton Anson was born in India, and one of Canterbury’s early settlers arriving in the 1850s, aged 16. Thomas H. Anson, with his business partner J. Kerslake, bought a sheep farm in the Malvern district, then in 1868, they sold the sheep farm and bought the Mount Torlesse run near Springfield, which they owned for five years, up until the death of Mr. Kerslake. Thomas then bought a farm in Courtenay and married Henrietta on 2 February 1872 at St Peters Church, in Riccarton, Christchurch and together they had ten children; George Edward Northey, Violet Frances Woodville, Aubrey Vernon, Francis Halhed, Catherine Rose Hamilton, Thomas Henry Karslake (Carslake), Barbara Annie (Aimee) Hope, Henrietta Rachel, Nona Alice, Laura (Launa) Brooke, Frederick John Granby and Raoul Whakatane, also known as Ralph, was the youngest.

Ralph's father was an active member of his community with roles such as the Chairman of the Courtenay Road Board, was also a member of the Selwyn County Council, the North Canterbury Education Board and unsuccessfully ran for the Selwyn seat for the House of Representatives, on two occasions.  In late May, Thomas was involved in putting out a fire in some oat sheaves, on the family property, Winterfold, which took all night. As a result of getting cold and wet, he developed ‘pleurisy’. As a result of this, on 14 June 1894, Ralph’s father died, aged 49, at the home of James Brett, in Fendalton and his funeral was on the 16th June and was buried at St Mathew’s church, Halkett Road, Courtney.
Ralph was only 2 years old when his father died, and his oldest brother took over running the Courtenay farm.

Raoul went to Courtenay School from 29 January 1900 and left on 21 June 1901 to live in Sumner/Heathcote with his mother and some of his younger siblings. At 10 years of age he started at Christchurch Normal School, with an address of Papanui, having previously attended Richmond School, Christchurch.

By his teens, the Anson family all were living in the Heathcote Valley, on a farm in Bridal Path Road and Ralph worked as a dairyman on the family farm, with his brothers, listed as in Morcormicks Bay (note spelling change) along with his siblings Alice, Aubrey, Francis, Frederick and Lorna as well as his mother, with his address listed as First House, Bridal Path Road, Heathcote in 1915.

In early May 1915 Ralph and his brother, Frederick, were charged with allowing a horse to wander on the Sumner Road, and were fined 10s + costs.
In 1917-18, Ralphs and his brothers, Aubrey Vernon and Francis Halhed were still listed living in Bridal Path Road, trading as the’ Anson Brothers - Diary Farmers’.

On the 3rd of October 1917 Ralph enlisted or posted his attestation in Christchurch, as the men remaining in the First Division of the Expeditionary Force Reserve, including Ralph, were called up. No actual drawing of names occurred, as special legislation was passed to enable all remaining names to be gazetted at once.
Ralph was listed in the Star on 3rd October 1917, as Raoul Whakatua Anson, (? note the misspelling of his middle name). Ralph was recorded as a dairy farmer, unmarried and named his mother, Henrietta, who was still at the family Bridal Path address, as his next of Kin.
From his war records, Private Ralph Whakatane Anson, NZEF 72052, Roll number 500324, was noted to be of a fresh complexion, he had blue eyes and fair hair was 5” 8.5 inches in height, 126 lbs. or 9 stone. His chest measured 30 inches to 33 inches and it was noted that he had normal eyesight and hearing. At the time of enlistment, Ralph did not want to make a will. His religion was listed as Church of England.   Ralph was able to have a dental extraction on 3rd October 1917 and went on leave without pay at 4pm on the 12th November 1917. He had his inoculations on 14th January and on 24 February 1918.

4 February 1918, Ralph and his fellow Cantabrians went north by ferry arriving in Trentham in 8th February 1918 to commence his training for active service. 
30th March 1918 – Ralph went on final leave with his family in Heathcote Valley. During that stay, the Heathcote Patriotic Committee held a social function at a Hall, which in part acknowledged Private Ralph Anson and W.E Evans, both of whom were given by the Heathcote community a complete writing wallet and pipe with tobacco, in appreciation and admiration of their upcoming military service. On 26th of April, 1918 Ralph’s placement, with A Company, was amended moving from the 38th Battalion to the 37th battalion

Ralph embarked on 9 May 1918, from Wellington on the ship Maunganui as part of the HMNZT 103, bound for Liverpool, England. He disembarked in England on 24 June, 1918 and left for France on 12 September 1918, joining the 1st Battalion, 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade on 17th September in the frontline near Etaples. 26th October 1918, the Star reported that Ralph was ‘Killed in Action’ on 8th October 1918, at Le Cateau, France.

Ralph Whakatane Anson is buried at Naves Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord France, and grave reference: III C.15

In 1922 Ralph’s mother received his posthumous British War medal and Victory medal.

Ralph’s brothers Frederick John Granby, Serial No. 53996 Rifle Brigade, departed for WW1 in 1917 and was wounded 2 September 1918 and Thomas Carslake was drafted in 1918, as part of the Class B (with one child) intake.

Ralph is remembered on the Heathcote War Memorial.




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Ralph Whakatane Anson / Raoul Whakatane Anson

First Names:Raoul Whakatane Ralph
Last Name:Anson
Place of Birth:Courtenay, Kirwee
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Ralph Whakatane Anson / Raoul Whakatane Anson by ALLi1 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License