Topic: Arthur William Judge

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Arthur Judge was a man who served in the First World War in the New Zealand Medical Corps, including surviving the sinking of the Marquette, and then lived in New Brighton for the rest of his life.

Arthur William Judge was born on 24th July, 1891, in England. His father was Edwin Judge, a chairmaker, which had been the family occupation since the early 1800's. Later Edwin became a journalist and lay preacher in the Congregational Church. Arthur's mother was Emily (nee Towerton), who was a school teacher. Arthur was one of three children. They lived in a house called "Fern Cottage" in the village of Stokenchurch in Buckinghamshire, England.

Arthur William Judge, ca. 1904-1908.. Arthur attended school there until he turned 13 in 1904, after which he left school and worked for four years as a telegraph messenger at the village post office and grocery store (called "London House"). He then worked for just over four years as a grocer's assistant with a Mr. James S. King, "Family Grocer, Provision and Hardware Merchant", in Richmond, S.W. London, earning 5 shillings a week with full board. He decided to emigrate, hoping for better working conditions and pay. He chose New Zealand because it was roughly the same size as England, and then chose Christchurch because it was regarded as an English town. Mr King's reference for him said that "he is thoroughly honest, sober, and is most courteous and it is with great regret that I lose his services."

He sailed for New Zealand at the beginning of September, 1912, aged 21. When he arrived in Christchurch, he quickly found accommodation in Lichfield St., and a job with the New Zealand Farmers Cooperative of Canterbury Ltd., as a grocer's assistant. The next place he worked at was a grocery shop in Papanui Road, owned by Mr. D. E. Rout, and then Mr. J. C. Baldwin. Then he worked for Mrs Rosa Harris (after the death of her husband) at "The Brick Store", a grocery shop at 147 Colombo Street, Beckenham, on the corner of Strickland St. By 1914, he was living at 141 Somerfield Street.

Arthur joined the Trinity Congregational Church, and enjoyed the fellowship of other young men in the Christchurch YMCA. He was involved in the YMCA Debating Society. In 1914, he came second in a speech competition, where the topic was "The Strength, the Weakness and the Future of the British Empire". He also attended First Aid classes at St. John Ambulance Association rooms, and passed an examination in First Aid, at the end of 1914. He also belonged to the Territorials (Field Ambulance).

Arthur William Judge Arthur was called up for training as a private in the Medical Corps, No.1 Stationary Hospital, in April, 1915. His replacement in the shop was a friend of his from the YMCA, George Manning, who would later become Mayor of Christchurch.The Medical Corps were given one month's training in Trentham Camp, living in bell tents and washing in the cold Hutt River. In a letter on May 18th, 1915 to a Mr. Nicholls, Arthur said "We are all anxious to get away and do something, especially now the increasing casualty lists indicate an urgent need for NZ MC (New Zealand Medical Corps) work."

They left New Zealand on 21st May, on the Moldavia, via Sydney and other Australian ports, to Colombo. They then travelled through the Suez Canal, where snipers shot at them, to Port Said, where they established the Hospital Base. While there, Arthur took Cairo leave, visiting the Pyramids, mosques and citadel. He found it a fascinating city.

On 19th October, 1915, the No.1 Stationary Hospital boarded the Marquette, a transport ship, at Alexandria, heading for Salonika. Also on board were horses, mules, troops and equipment. On 23rd October, within a few hours' steam of Salonika, at 9.15am, a German submarine U.35 torpedoed the ship. The ship rapidly began to list to port, then sank by the bow. Arthur recounted his version of the events in a letter that was published in the Press on 17th January, 1916.

"On the Saturday morning, I had been on duty on the aft bridge with another Christchurch man, from six to eight. We had breakfast and a wash before nine, and then the trouble came. I was sitting down at the time, thinking of packing to go ashore, when a loud bang, followed by a rasping, tearing noise, was heard. I was thrown over, and at the same time got a knock on the flat of the right foot with a piece of wood or something. I was dazed for a few seconds, but saw in the centre of our quarters a grey, wet mass of debris going up. The next minute, all was clear again. The fellows below, about 15 in number, dashed for the stairs. Then I began to realise that we had possibly struck a mine, and hobbled straight to the hatch, only to find that the first steps were detached and had fallen down into the hold.

 At this point things did not look too rosy, but one or two of the more nimble got up to the top steps and, with assistance from above, lowered ropes to us. It only took two or three minutes to get us up, but in that time our quarters filled with water......When I got on deck the Marquette had a big list to port, the water being about up to the deck in the bow..."

An old friend from Christchurch YMCA days, Vic Peters, helped him put his lifebelt on, and he jumped off the sinking ship and found a piece of hatch-cover to hold onto. He tried to make for a boat, but after two hours, gave that up and made for a mass of floating wreckage.

"I felt at my worst about this time, being cold and having a good deal of pain from the foot, which I had used a bit."

Later he was delighted to find drifting around him lots of nuts, which he enjoyed eating. He then made a temporary raft with another New Zealander. Towards the end of the afternoon, he was picked up by a French destroyer Tirralleur, and taken to Salonika, and onto the hospital ship Canada , a French ship, where he was put to bed. The following day, he was moved to the Grantully Castle, another hospital ship, which took them back to Alexandria.

He recuperated with his sprained foot in Bombay Presidency General Hospital, Alexandria, and at Mustapha, a convalescent camp, while the rest of the No.1 Stationary Hospital regrouped at the Port Said Base Hospital. When they were back to strength, they sailed again to the Aegean, and set up their tent hospital at Salonika. Here they were treating, among other things, enteric fever and frostbite from the snow and frost.

Soldiers, including Arthur William Judge, ca. 1915-1920..

On March 16th, 1916, they returned to Egypt, and set up base at Moascar near Alexandria. He had another leave pass to visit Cairo. In June, the 1st Stationary Hospital moved to Le Havre, France, via Southampton, England. At Le Havre, the unit was immediately employed unloading trainloads of casualties, and grading them for base or evacuation. 60,000 casualties were handled on the first day. The hospital moved nearer the front lines to Amiens, where they served for eleven months, using a convent and school for accommodation. They could often feel gunfire through earth tremors. During the cold winter, with all the ice and snow, they treated , among other thing, wounds, shellshock, scabies and trenchfeet. Arthur made friends with some of the French civilians.

For Christmas 1916, Arthur was given leave to visit London (with a bed-pass at the New Zealand Soldiers' Club in Russell Square), and also his old home at Stokenchurch. Then he returned to France.

In May, 1917, the No. 1 Stationary Hospital moved north from Amiens to Hazebrouck, and were accommodated in the school and marquees. Arthur worked in the operating theatre that specialised in head wounds. Some time later, the Germans shelled the town with a long-range gun, firing a shell every 30 minutes. Patients were immediately evacuated, and in September, the hospital moved to Wisques, near St. Omer. Here they worked in Nissan huts. Throughout  1918, Arthur served in No. 1 Stationary Hospital as well as casualty clearing stations, serving at various times with Australian, Canadian and Imperial Casualty Clearing units over the Belgium border near Ypres. He had some leave over Christmas, 1917. On 30th May, 1918, he became a lance-corporal.

November the 11th, 1918, was Armistice Day. Arthur had leave in Paris, and saw President Wilson's arrival. In December, the unit was disbanded. They returned to Walton on Thames Hospital for four days. There Arthur found his friend Victor Peters (who had helped him when the Marquette sank). He was being treated for injuries to both his legs. That day, he was looking on top of the world (despite much pain from his wounds) -- his nurse had just agreed to become his wife!

Arthur volunteered to stay on during 1919 at the Surgical Instruments Headquarters at Camberwell, to help sort and pack supplies for return to New Zealand. He was made a corporal on 17th January, 1919. He attended the Victory Parade and the fireworks celebrating the end of the war. In October the depot closed, and he went into camp at Torquay, before sailing back to New Zealand on the Ruahine, via Capetown. They arrived in Auckland on Christmas Day, and had Christmas dinner on board. He was discharged from the army on 24th January, 1920, having served overseas for four years and 221 days! He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.

Arthur William Judge, Anzac Day paradeWhen he arrived back in Christchurch, he went to see Rosa Harris, for whom he had been working when he left for war. Another man, Jimmy Simpson, who had been wounded at Gallipoli and invalided home, was working there, and was very worried that he would lose his job now that Arthur had returned from war. Arthur reassured him that he wasn't going to take Jimmy's job away, and went looking for another job elsewhere. He found one at Kincaid's Grocery, 693 Colombo Street, where he was taken on to collect orders from customers.

He setlled back into civilian life, and various groups, including his church and the W.E.A. He began studying accountancy. He also bought a property at 451 River Rd, New Brighton. 1 1/2 acres of land, a fairly new four-roomed bungalow, garage and a young orchard, for 900 pounds, which he rented out for a few years.

On 1st March, 1924, he married Minnie Elizabeth Florence Jenkins (Ellie), at St. Matthew's Anglican Church, St. Albans. He had met her through Rosa Harris, who was Ellie's aunt. He had also boarded with Ellie's  parents after the First World War. Arthur and Ellie lived in New Brighton for the rest of their lives. They had four children (John, Edwin, Robin and Marion).

Arthur died in Christchurch on the 31st July, 1984, and is buried in the Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch.


Related Resources

  • Online cenotaph record for Arthur William Judge Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Arthur William Judge's military personnel file. Archives New Zealand (Archway)
  • New Zealand Electoral Rolls, 1853-1981
  • Transcript of recording of reminscences of Arthur Judge, and other papers. Judge family papers


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Arthur William Judge

First Names:Arthur William
Last Name:Judge
Place of Birth:Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire, England