Topic: Robert George Wetherall
Robert George Wetherall (Service No. 40855 ) was a First World War soldier with links to Heathcote
Robert George Wetherall (known as George) was born in Prebbleton on 20 September 1885. He was the second of six sons and one of ten children to Robert John Wetherall (America) and Ribinia (Scotland). He began his education at nearby Ladbrooks School but after the Wetherall family moved to 26 Bridle Path Road, Heathcote Valley he attended Heathcote Valley School.
While George and his brother John had worked at the Heathcote maltworks, for the two and a half years prior to enlistment George had been employed as a gardener in the Valley, working for a Mr F King.
At his time of enlistment on 7 October 1916 Robert was 31 years and 1 month old, 5’61/2”, fair headed and blue eyed and weighed 9st 8 lb. Robert’s attestation form indicated that he had previously served in the Highland Rifles but that the unit had since disbanded. On enlistment he was a private, rifleman in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 23rds but was promoted to lance corporal before he left New Zealand. Although single when he enlisted, he married Ivy Constance Pengally at St Michael’s Church in Christchurch on the 3rd January 1917 while on leave. They then took up residence at 50 Ely Street in central Christchurch.
Robert departed New Zealand on 14 March 1917 on the Ruapehu, arriving in Devonport in Devon, England on 21 May 1917. He was however, hospitalised on board ship for fourteen days having succumbed to an outbreak of German measles.
His company left for France on the 21 June 1917, marching into camp at Etaples, France two days later. George took ill with influenza on the 6 July 1917 but was discharged to duty a week later. On the 23 August 1917 he marched out to his division, joining the battle on the 1 September 1917 where he was posted to the A Company. His active service record reports that he was still with the unit on 6 August 1918, had two weeks leave at the end of August that year but sadly was wounded in action on the 13 September 1918, dying of his wounds at the no. 56 Casualty Clearing Station in the field in France.
Robert George Wetherall is buried in Grevillers British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France. His grave reference is XIII. B. 15.
He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and is remembered on the Heathcote Valley War Memorial.
- Military personnel file for Robert George Wetherall. Archway, Archives New Zealand
- Online Cenotaph record for Robert Wetherall. Auckland War Memorial Museum
- THE ROLL OF HONOUR. Press, Volume LIV, Issue 16328, 27 September 1918
- 'In the shadow of te rock: 150 years of the Heathcote valley School and community' by Paul Corliss, 2010