Topic: Willard Whitmore Isitt

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Willard Whitmore Isitt (Service no. 12400) was a First World War soldier with links to St. Augustine's Anglican Church, Cashmere.

Willard Whitmore Isitt Willard Whitmore Isitt  was born in Christchurch on 30th March, 1894. His father was Leonard M. Isitt, a bookseller, and later a Liberal MP. His mother was Agnes Isitt. They lived on Cashmere Hills.

He was educated partly in England, and then at Christchurch Boys’ High School. Then he worked in his father’s book-selling and stationery business in Cashel St. He passed his junior civil service exams in 1909.

Willard was a very quiet, retiring young man, but had ‘fine grit and determination’. He loved motorcycling, going on competitive trials throughout Canterbury, riding his Zenith motorcycle. He belonged to the Pioneer Amateur Motor and Sports Club. At times he was fined by the courts for speeding, and not sounding his horn!

He was 5’ 9 ½” tall, with blue eyes and fair hair.

When war broke out, he was very keen to go to the front, and after being rejected two or three times, because his eyesight in one eye wasn’t good enough, he had a boxing bout with a friend, and asked him to give him a solid blow to the defective eye. This made the eye swell up, and before it settled down again, he presented himself for medical examination and got through, and went to war!

He signed up on 17th January, 1916, and was a rifleman in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 6th reinforcements, 2nd Battalion, F Company. They left New Zealand on the 6th May, 1916, heading via Sinai to England. There they did more training for about a month, then to France, arriving on the field on 3rd October.

Just four weeks later, on 31st October, 1916, he was wounded, and taken to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station, but sadly, he died. He was just 22.

 He was buried at Estaires Communal Cemetery, Nord, France.

 His name is on the family memorial, Block 36, plot 179, Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch, and on the roll of honour at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Cashmere.

 He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal


 His brother, Leonard Monk Isitt, survived the war, and went on to be a prominent Air Force Commander in the Second World War.


 Related Resources:

  • Online Cenotaph Record for Willard Whitmore Isitt - Auckland War Memorial Museum.
  • Willard Whitmore Isitt's military personnel file on Archives New Zealand (Archway).
  • Ancestry Library Edition: New Zealand Electoral Rolls, 1853-1981





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Willard Whitmore Isitt

First Names:Willard Whitmore
Last Name:Isitt
Place of Birth:Christchurch