Topic: Thomas Arthur Raxworthy
Thomas Arthur Raxworthy (Service no. 26/204) was a First World War soldier and former employee of Christchurch City Council
Thomas Arthur Raxworthy was born in Christchurch on 17 April 1893 to Thomas Herbert Raxworthy, a labourer, and his wife, Isadore Maud Williams. His parents were married in 1889 in New Zealand. The family lived in Upper Riccarton.
On 13 November 1912 Thomas married Margaret Phoebe Willmot Burton. Their children were Edith Isodore (1913) and Herbert Thomas (1914). By the time of his enlistment they were residing at 29 London Street, Richmond.
In 1912 Thomas began employment with the Christchurch City Council as a driver. Thomas also served as a member of the 1st Canterbury Regiment Territorials.
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. Thomas enlisted in October 1915. He was assigned to C Company 4th Battalion of the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade.
The brigade underwent its training at Rangiotu Camp, in Foxton. The camp did not have the required facilities for rifle training. As a result of this, courses were held in nearby Palmerston North and Whanganui. Thomas would have undergone training in trench warfare and machine gun tactics at one such course held for the 4th Battalion at Whanganui in January, 1916.
Thomas departed New Zealand from Auckland on 3 February 1916 onboard the troopship Navua. Also onboard this troopship was the 3rd Māori Contingent and the No.2 Field Ambulance.
The 4th Battalion disembarked at the Suez Canal where it eventually joined other battalions of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. The brigade remained in Egypt, based at Moascar Camp until it embarked for France in April.
For the journey to France, Thomas was onboard the troopship Alaunia which was forced to make a detour near Sardinia due to the threat of submarines. By 14 April the troopships had all arrived in Marseilles. From there the brigade travelled by train to northern France.
Thomas was killed in action at the Somme on 15 September 1916. He was buried in Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers, Somme, France.
At a ceremony held in February 1917 a portrait of Thomas was unveiled by the Mayor, H. Holland, in the Christchurch Council Chambers.
Online Cenotaph entry for Thomas Raxworthy. Auckland War Memorial Museum
Thomas Raxworthy's military personnel file. Archives New Zealand (Archway)
'News in brief,' Sun, Volume IV, Issue 939, 13 February 1917.
Austin, W.A., The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.