Topic: William Ruxton Leys Esselborn

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William Ruxton Leys Esselborn (Service no. 22567) was a First World War soldier and former employee of Christchurch City Council

Private W.R.L. Esselborn. Sun, Volume IV, Issue 1152, 20 October 1917, Page 6William was born 22 November 1890 to Valentine Esselborn, a Bavarian who was naturalised in 1884, and Mary Bain. In 1890 they were listed as residing at the city council offices, where Valentine was the caretaker.

William was educated at the Normal School and then Lyttelton District High School.

In 1905 he joined the St John Ambulance and later became the district secretary for Canterbury and West Coast. Before his departure the organisation presented him with a watch made by W.W. McKinney. He was also a Past Chief Ruler of the Rechabite Order, a prohibitionist group, and a member of the Municipal Cricket Club.

Prior to his enlistment William was inspector of nuisances for the Christchurch City Council. He was selected out of 187 applications for the position and was officially appointed on 24 August 1914. At the time his father was still working at the Council as the caretaker of the Christchurch Municipal Chambers.

William had previous military experience with the NZ voluntary forces and was a sergeant with the Linwood Rifles.

On 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Imperial Germany. In response New Zealand offered the services of an expeditionary force to assist in the war effort.

In December 1915 William resigned from his position at the Council. He left Christchurch as a non commissioned officer of infantry with the 15th Reinforcements. In February 1916 he arrived at Trentham which had become the main training camp for soldiers who were enlisting as infantrymen and engineers in the reinforcements.  

On April 1916 he was promoted to Quarter Master Sergeant and transferred to B Company, 16th Reinforcements.

William embarked on 21 August.

Upon arriving in Devonport, England, on 24 October 1916, he proceeded to Sling camp. This was a bleak training camp situated on the Salisbury Plains. There he was appointed to the rank of temporary sergeant.

On 15 November 1916 he departed for France. In December he joined 11th Company of the 2nd Battalion Wellington Regiment and reverted to the rank of private.

By July 1917 William was still serving on the Front. During this time he was admitted to hospital with a sprained ankle which occurred when he slipped on the deck boards while carrying food to a company in the front line. After recuperating, he rejoined his battalion in August.

William was killed at Passchendaele, Belgium 4 October 1917. He was interred in Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, Langemark-Poelkapelle, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Later that month a moment of silence was held for him at the annual meeting of the Municipal Cricket Club.  




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William Ruxton Leys Esselborn

First Names:William Ruxton Leys
Last Name:Esselborn
Place of Birth:Christchurch, New Zealand