Topic: Josiah Harvey

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Josiah Harvey (Service No: 73405 ) was a First World War soldier with links to Heathcote

Josiah was born on 5th July 1883 in Fochriw, a village in Caerphilly, County Borough, Wales. He was the middle child of Michael and Mary Anne Harvey his older brother was William John and his younger sister Martha Ann. The family resided in Glamorganshire, a district of many collieries and where Josiah's father worked as a coal miner. By 1911 at the age of 26 Josiah was also working as a coal miner. It was a short time after this that he came to Christchurch with his mother and siblings. 

In March 1917, at the age of 34 Josiah was recruited to join the 40th Reinforcements, NZ Expeditionary Force.  He was described as being 5' 7", 126 lbs with a fair complexion, brown hair and eyes. Josiah's attestation form at the time indicated he had been in NZ for five years. It also stated he had been working as a labourer for the "The Canterbury Seed Co,” his address was given as being at Station Road, Heathcote.

Josiah departed Wellington on the troop ship HMNZT Tahiti on 10 July 1918, bound for Plymouth in England. During the voyage, the vessel had a resupplying stopover in Freetown, Sierra Leone. It was immediately following this stopover that there were many reported bouts of influenza by those on board. Within days, influenza had spread quickly among the troops on board, eventually becoming an epidemic a few weeks later.

On 4th September 1918, Josiah died of influenza on board the vessel Tahiti aged 35. This was just six days before the vessel eventually reached Plymouth, England. He was buried at sea, a common practice at the time for those that had passed away while travelling to or from war destinations. A memorial plaque for Josiah, is placed at the grave site of his mother, Mary Ann Harvey at the Rutherford Street Cemetery, Woolston, Christchurch.

In 1921 he was posthumously awarded British War Medal however, due to difficulties in ascertaining his relatives the NZ Defence Department in 1923, sent a letter to the Mayor of Christchurch asking that his medal, plaque and scroll be held by the city so that an authorized person could come forward and receive them. This was agreed to.

In 1926 Josiah's brother, William John Harvey, was eventually located, therefore allowing Josiah’s medal, plaque and scroll to be forwarded to him in Surrey, England.

Josiah Harvey is remembered at the Canterbury Provincial Memorial and on the Heathcote War Memorial, Christchurch.

         Memorial plaque for Josiah Harvey

Related Resources:


For further information on HMNZT Tahiti and the outbreak of influenza see:

  • Summers JA, Wilson N, Baker MG, Shanks GD. "Mortality risk factors for pandemic influenza on New Zealand troop ship, 1918". Emerg Infect Dis. Volume 16, Number 12, December 2010.

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Josiah Harvey

First Names:Josiah
Last Name:Harvey
Place of Birth:Wales