Topic: William James Allason

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William James Allason ( service number 28946) enlisted for the First World War with a Peterborough Street address.

William James Allason was born in Napier in January 1881, to parents William and Eliza (nee Smyth). William senior worked as a carpenter in Puketapu, nine miles north-west of Napier. Eliza died in 1882, the same year she gave birth to daughter Annie Elizabeth (Annie Elizabeth died unmarried in 1914 aged 33).

Puketapu was a sheep farming district with several large stations, so William James' later occupations of farm fencer and general labourer are unsurprising. He married Lucy Leah Gardiner Humphries (14 years his senior at 38 compared to William's 24) at a registry office in Christchurchin 1905. They lived in a variety of locations around Christchurch, mostly within the Four Avenues but eventually settling in Orbell Street in Sydenham. William enlisted at Trentham in June 1916 while living at 44 Peterborough Street. He was 35 years old.

Having been passed as fit for duty, William joined initially as a Rifleman with the 9th Reinforcement and in France was posted to the 3rd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade, known colloquially as the "Dinks" and with their own mascot -- Frida the dog.  William then embarked on the HMT Willochra in October 1916, disembarking in Plymouth just before Christmas. He marched into Sling Camp, England on the 29th of January.

William was posted to the Western Front in February 1917. He probably saw action both at Messines and Passchendaele.

William was detached to a rest camp for two weeks in October 1917. In February 1918 he was attached to the Field Ambulance, the mobile medical unit.

At the battle of Bapaume in August 1918 William was in charge of the battalion stretcher bearers. Under heavy fire from artillery and machine guns, William and his stretcher bearers collected the wounded. Later, after several of the stretcher bearers were injured, William organised new parties of bearers and ensured the battlefield was quickly cleared of wounded. 

For this action he was awarded the Military Medal (MM), a decoration awarded to soldiers from the lower ranks for conspicuous gallantry and bravery.

A field ambulance

In November 1918 William was wounded with a gunshot wound to the face. It can't have been too serious as he was treated in Franceand only hospitalised for two weeks. On discharge from hospital he was sent to the New Zealand Infantry General Base Depot at Étaples, before re-joining his battalion in December 1918. The war was now over.

William returned to New Zealandon the Kia-Ora from Liverpool in March 1919. The Kia-Ora reached Lyttelton in early May, and news of William's award was widely circulated. His return was celebrated at a meeting of the Mistletoe Lodge (a branch of the United Ancient Order of Druids, a benevolent society promoting philanthropy and friendship). Toasts were drunk to the "returned brothers" and musical and magical entertainment ensued, the evening ending with "Auld Lang Syne".

Back in civilian life William continued work as a fencer and labourer.

William James Allason died in Christchurch Hospital on the 14th of April 1951, aged 71. Lucy Leah followed in 1954 in her 87th year. William and Lucy Leah had no children. Both were privately cremated in Christchurch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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William James Allason


First Names:William James
Last Name:Allason
Place of Birth:Napier