Topic: Albert Victor Wills

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Albert Victor Wills (Service no. 6/3204) was a First World War soldier with links to Halswell.

Private Albert Victor Wills 6/3204

 Albert Victor Wills was the eldest of 8 children of William James and Alice Rose Wills. At the time of his birth on 27 June 1897, the family were living in Scott Street, Sydenham. He attended Sydenham School and Christchurch Technical College (now CPIT) where he was a member of the hockey club. He was also a member of the Lincoln Road Young Men’s Methodist Bible Class.

Prior to enlisting, Albert was employed as a clerk at Sargood, Son and Ewen, and was in the territorials. The family were living at 86 Tankerville Street (now Road) in Spreydon when Albert enlisted at Trentham on 15 June 1915. While at Trentham, Albert was hospitalised for 4 weeks with measles during July and August.

It appears that Albert falsified his age when he enlisted – he was only about to turn 18. His military record shows his date of birth as 27 June 1895, 2 years before his actual birth date. He is described as being 5 feet 5 inches tall, with brown hair and eyes, and a fresh complexion with some acne scars about the back of his neck and shoulders.

Albert was in the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment as part of the 7th Reinforcements New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He departed for Suez on one of three Anzac troop ships (Aparima, Navua or Warimoo) all of which left New Zealand on 9 October 1915, and arrived 20–30 November according to the Flotilla Australia website, although his Casualty Form, which also lists transfers, states him as disembarking on 18 November.

What action Albert was involved with in Egypt is unclear. The only reference to his time there is the first entry on his Casualty Form which states that he joined the battalion in Ismailia on 6 February 1916, and also that he was awarded the 1914-1915 Egyptian Star.

On 6 April he embarked on the Franconia from Port Said, bound for France. Two days later, he was admitted to St. Omer hospital with mumps. He was discharged after 3 weeks, on his 19th birthday, and rejoined his unit at Armentieres, close to the Belgium border and the Western Front.

Albert Victor Wills was killed in action in France on 25 September 1916 - 1 year 1 month and 11 days after enlisting - aged just 19 years. He is one of the 1,205 casualties remembered at Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial in Somme, France.

Following Albert’s death, his mother separated from his father and moved to Wellington in 1924 with her youngest child, aged 9. She was able to use Albert’s war pension to supplement what she earned from cooking, washing and cleaning.

Albert is remembered on the Halswell War Memorial.

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Albert Victor Wills

First Names:Albert Victor
Last Name:Wills
Place of Birth:Christchurch