Topic: Ernest Henry Manson

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Ernest Henry Manson (service number 8/934) was a First World War soldier with links to Upper Riccarton

Ernest Henry Manson was born 25th June 1894 at Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand. He was the oldest son of Elizabeth Minnie Harkerss and Joseph Henry Manson who were married in New Zealand in 1894. He had nine siblings; an unnamed baby (born 1895), Claude Finley (1897), Arthur George (1900), Leslie Gordon (1902), Clarence Herbert (1905), Louisa Myrtle (1907), Violet Mary (1909), Pearl Coral (1912) and Joseph Albert (1914). Elizabeth and Joseph Manson are buried at Waimairi Cemetery, along with their daughter Pearl Coral.

Ernest volunteered for the war effort on 26th August 1914 in Christchurch. He was twenty years old. At that time he was living with his parents at Avonhead Road and working as a ploughman for Patrick Carboy in Upper Riccarton. His medical examination sheet describes him as being five feet, five and a half inches tall and weighing 140 pounds. He had a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He was affiliated with the Church of England.

Ernest was assigned to the 10th Otago Infantry Brigade as the Canterbury units were all full. His rank was private. According to the brief notes on his service card he left New Zealand on 23rd September 1914 and arrived in Alexandria, Egypt on 3rd December 1914. He spent four months in Egypt but his military file also doesn't specify which camp he went to or what he was doing. The Official History of the Otago Regiment gives us some insight into what was happening in the Regiment during Ernest’s service.

The Dunedin troops left Port Chalmers for overseas on 23rd September 1914 but had a change of orders and were diverted to Wellington where temporary camps were set up for the horses and mounted soldiers. The Infantry, which would have included Ernest, remained on the ships and came off in the daytime for exercise and shooting practice. They finally left Wellington on 16th October 1914 as part of a convoy of ships. There were 8427 people and 3,815 horses on the ships. The convoy disembarked at Alexandria in the early morning of 3rd December and by evening were getting on trains to head to Zeitoun Station which was about four miles out of Cairo. The New Zealand troops set up camp on the edge of the desert. The men trained doing long distance marches carrying 70 pound packs to make them fit enough to climb the rugged hills of Gallipoli.

On about 10th April 1915 the Otago troops boarded the captured ship Annaberg. In three days they arrived at Mudros Harbour on Lemnos Island where the officers spent time devising the plan of attack. The regular soldiers practiced getting off the ships into smaller boats for the Gallipoli landing. On 24th April 1915 the ships weighed anchor and headed for Turkey. They arrived in the very early morning of 25th April 1915 and the Otago men got into the landing craft. The landing was hazardous as they were under constant fire from the Turks and the British field guns had not yet been landed to defend the troops. There was fierce fighting over the next four days until there was a lull on 30th April 1915. It was during this time that Ernest was killed, exact date unknown. Ernest’s body was never identified but his name is recorded on panel number 75.E of Lone Pine Memorial in the hills of Gallipoli overlooking ANZAC Cove.

The Mansons of Avonhead road had a close relationship with their extended Manson family in Governor’s Bay and Little River. Ernest was killed in action in April and his cousin Samuel Manson (service number 6/670) was killed just over a week later on 8th May 1915. His name is recorded on panel number 16 at the Twelve Tree Copse (New Zealand) Memorial. Both men had gone to Governor’s Bay school so the school committee decided to place a memorial tablet in the school and plant two oak trees in the school playground. The Mount Herbert County Council sent letters of condolence to each of their families. Each family lost another son in Europe; Samuel’s brother Ambrose Manson (service number 6/1614) died 13th December 1917 in Belgium and Ernest’s brother Claude Findley Manson (service number 63261) died 7th September 1918 in France. 

Ernest was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

The Governor's Bay School Roll of Honour was unveiled on ANZAC day 1916 bearing the names of Ambrose, Ernest and Samuel Manson. Ernest Henry Manson and Claude Findley Manson are remembered on the Roll of Honour at Upper Riccarton Memorial Library, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Related resources

References

  • ROLL OF HONOR., Evening Star, Issue 15832, 17 June 1915, page 3
  • KILLED IN ACTION., Sun, Volume II, Issue 423, 18 June 1915, page 6
  • GOVERNOR'S BAY., Press, Volume LI, Issue 15326, 9 July 1915, page 2
  • MOUNT HERBERT., Press, Volume LI, Issue 15326, 9 July 1915, page 2 
  • ANZAC DAY., Press, Volume LII, Issue 15576, 28 April 1916, page 8

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