Topic: George Chaney

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George Chaney (Service no. 34631) was a First World War soldier with links to Hornby, Belfast and Upper Riccarton


George was born at Belfast, Canterbury, New Zealand on 31st October 1886, the third son of the twelve children of Randolph Theodore and Sarah Ann Chaney. His siblings were; Alice Wilhelmina (born 1875), Elizabeth (1877), Edith (1878), John Henry (1879), James William (1882), Harriet May (1884), Annie (1889), Sarah Isabel (1892), Emma (1894), Charles Theodore (1897) and Joseph Francis (1899). Randolph Theodore Chaney and Sarah Ann Ashworth were married on 22nd July 1874 at St Bartholomew's Church, Kaiapoi. Randolph and Sarah both died at age 78, in 1928  and 1932 respectively, and are buried in St Peter's Churchyard, Upper Riccarton. 


The Chaney family were pioneer settlers in Canterbury as they arrived on the “Randolph” being the second ship of the Canterbury Association to arrive in Lyttelton on 16th December, 1850. William George and Sarah Chaney brought their six children, William, Emma, John, Charlotte, Elizabeth and Joseph, with them. George's father, Randolph Theodore Chaney, was born on 10th September, 1850 at the Bay of Biscay aboard the “Randolph” and was named after the ship. William  Chaney and his son William, were stonemasons and had been recruited to work on the proposed Christ Church cathedral. William senior had been a foreman working on the Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, England. However the Christchurch project wasn't ready to go ahead when they arrived so they worked on building the Lyttelton Jail in 1851. 


George started his education at Belfast School on 25th August 1891 and then went on to Templeton, Hornby and Amberley Schools and later at West Christchurch District High School.

Randolph Chaney and his sons were associated with the Islington Meat Works. 

George enlisted on 23 August 1916 and was assigned to the 20th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company with the rank of Private. He had previously been rejected for service on account of his crooked toe. At the time of enlistment the Chaney family was living at 38 Watts Rd, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch.  George was aged 29 years and 7 months and was 5ft 8in tall with a dark complexion, grey eyes and black hair. He was working as a labourer for the Canterbury Bye Produce Company in Sockburn.  


After completing his training at Featherston Military Camp in the Wairarapa George embarked with his unit for Plymouth, England on board the Port Lyttelton on 7th December 1916 and arrived at Sling Camp on the Salisbury Plains on 18th February 1917. After training at Codford Camp he left for the front in France on 28th May 1917 with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Company. George participated in fighting around the Belgian town of Ypres where some of the heaviest casualties were experienced by New Zealand troops on the Western Front. This included the bloody attacks at Passchendaele in October, during which 845 New Zealanders were killed on a single day. Having survived the carnage, George was sent for further training at the School of Instruction in early November 1917, returning to his unit on 20th November 1917.

George Chaney was killed in action during fighting at Polygon Wood, Ypres just nine days later on 29thNovember 1917. He is one of 378 men of the New Zealand Division with no known graves who are remembered at the Buttes New British Cemetery (NZ) Memorial at Polygon Wood, near the town of Zonnebeke, north-east of Ieper. 

George’s brother, Charles Theodore, Service number 46953, also served during the war and suffered a severe gunshot wound to the chest. 

George and Charles are listed on the Hornby War Memorial, and George is also on the Belfast War Memorial and the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library Roll of Honour

 George's medals, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, were sent to his father in Upper Riccarton. 

Related resources

  • Online cenotaph record for George Chaney.  Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • George Chaney's military personnel file. Archives New Zealand (Archway)
  • Entry for George Chaney on From Papanui to Passchendaele
  • The first four ships, Publisher:Christchurch [N.Z.] : The Press, [2006], Page 14. See also
  • New Zealand Birth, Death and Marriage indices


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George Chaney

First Names:George
Last Name:Chaney
Place of Birth:Belfast, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand