Topic: William Thomas Gawler
William Thomas Gawler (Service no. 21816) was a First World War soldier with links to Upper Riccarton.
William Thomas Gawler was born 20th February 1896 in Waimate to Agnes Tully and Robert Pinney Gawler.
His father Robert Pinney Gawler was born in the parish of Chard in Somerset, England in 1856. On the 1881 English census Robert was still living in Chard and working as a baker's assistant, along with his brother Tom, for his father Robert Pinney Gawler whose occupation was baker and confectioner. Robert Gawler junior's burial record lists his occupation at death as baker so he carried on the family trade in New Zealand. He arrived in New Zealand in 1884 but it is not known by which ship. Robert married Agnes Tully in 1893 and they went on to have six children; Robert George (1894), William Tom (1896), Charles John (approx. 1898), Stanley (1900), Annie Isabella (1903) and Elizabeth Ellen (1905). In 1906 Robert took his wife and children on a trip to England on the ship Paparoa. Perhaps this was precipitated by the death of their three month old daughter Elizabeth the same year. Robert was 42 and Agnes aged 37. They stayed for two years and returned in 1908 on the Turakina. Robert and Agnes Gawler are buried together in Bromley cemetery.
William Gawler was living with his parents at 47 Buchannans Road, Riccarton when he enlisted in the Army on 4th May 1916. He was a warehouseman employed by Davis & Wauchop, 163 Madras Street, Christchurch. He is described as being 5 foot 5 inches tall, weighing 134 lbs, with a fresh complexion and brown hair and eyes.
After William's initial training at Trentham he boarded the ship Mokoia at Dunedin on 20th August 1916 for the two month journey to Devonport, England arrivng 24th October 1916. The next three weeks were spent at Sling Camp on the Salsbury Plains before shipping out for France on 15th November 1916 and fnally marching into camp at Etaples the next day.
William was wounded for the first time on 19th November 1917 and was treated by the field ambulance and then admitted to No. 14 general hospital. He returned to Etaples on 6th December 1917. He was fortunate to be given two weeks leave away from the war front in the United Kingdom in January 1918.
On 16th July 1918 William was wounded in his thigh and forearm and was admitted to No. 8 Casualty Clearing Station where he died the next day. His final resting place is at Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, Somme, France.
William was awarded the Plaque and scroll, Victory medal and British War medal. These tokens were sent to his mother Agnes.
William Thomas Gawler is remembered on the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library Roll of Honour and the Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, Somme, France.
- The Fallen and the Wounded PapersPast: Press, Volume LIII, Issue 16080, 10 December 1917, page 8
- New Zealand historical births, deaths and marriages online
- Cenotaph on-line He Toa Taumata Rau
- Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- Archives New Zealand army records
- PapersPast digitised New Zealand newspapers - https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz