Topic: Oscar William Collings

Topic type:

Oscar William Collings was a First World War Solider with links to Wharenui Primary School, Christchurch.

Oscar William Collings was born 2 Feb 1896 and died 17 Jan 1945 - in his 49th year, in Templeton, Canterbury , New Zealand. His parents were William Henry Collings (born 11 May 1869 in Canterbury, NZ) and Emily (Voice) Collings (born about 1870 in New Zealand). He had two brothers Hector Thomas Collings (born 17 July 1899 in Templeton, NZ) and Reginald Rewi Collings (born 5 Jan 1910, Templeton , NZ).

Oscar was a pupil at Wharenui Primary School. In December 1909, when he was in Standard VI, he was awarded a Certificate of Proficiency and Good Attendance – First Class Certificate. Collings had also been a member of the Wharenui Cadets whilst a pupil at Wharenui School. All members were given a wooden gun, uniform and practised military drills.

In October 1916, Oscar aged 20, was fined 10 shillings and court costs for turning a corner in the city on the wrong side whilst riding a motorcycle. Oscar was a Linotype Operator and his last employer before the war was Whitcombe and Tombs in Christchurch.

Oscar enlisted on the 28 May 1917 in Christchurch. According to his army medical examination Oscar was 5 feet, 3 inches, and weighed 125 pounds. His complexion was fair, he had grey eyes and fair coloured hair. Oscar had perfect eyesight and normal hearing. He was considered "Class A" for his physical and mental health. He was a single man and had no children. Oscar belonged to the Church of England. 

He departed for the war onboard the Ulimaroa (HMNZT Ship 90) from Wellington on the 26 July 1917. The ship Ulimaroa was carrying part of the 28th reinforcements NZ expeditionary forces in conjunction with the Waitemata (HMNZT Ship 89) that also departed the same day. He was accompained on the ship by fellow Wharenui classmate Ernest Frank Fine. They arrived in Plymouth, England on 24 September 1917. 

Whilst onboard Oscar was given punishment for misconduct and fined seven days pay on 14 September. It is known that many soliders onboard HMNZT 90 were upset that they were no longer allowed shore leave which they had been promised during the journey and attempted to fight their way off the ship at a docking. Collings misconduct was most likely due to this occurence.

He was part of the 13th company,1st Battlaion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment stationed outside Ypres, Belgium during January 1918. He arrived in Ypres on the 19th January  and seven days later was wounded.  The conditions in Ypres at this time (October 1917 through to the middle of February 1918) were described as the worst of times for the New Zealand division.

Thomas Eltringham from the 2nd Auckland Battalion recalled about Ypres;

" Mud, slush. You imagine a strip of land from the Belgium border to the Swiss border - but in the middle...nothing but mud and slush, dug up by shellfire...not a green blade of grass, not a leaf on a tree not a cat or a dog or any sort. Just mud and slush.And we had to live in it. Now that was the Ypres front....And  we lived in that. If anyone had told me when I went to war that I would be able to stand up to that. I would have laughed at them. I would have said it's impossible."

It was reported in the New Zealand Herald on 15 February 1918 that Oscar had been wounded on the 26 January, just before his 22nd birthday. 

He boarded the H.S. Marama on the 6 April 1918 to return to Wellington due to injury. Whilst on board the H.S. Marama he was assesed by the Medical Board on the 30th April 1918. The results of this showed that Collings had sustained a gunshot wound to the right shoulder and right foot caused by a high explosive shell, requiring the removal of his 5th metatarsal little toe. Oscar was officially discharged on the 8 July 1918 as he was no longer physically fit for service on account of wounds received in action. He was given a disability allowance for 6 months.

He remained unmarried until his death in 1945 and left his entire estate to his father. It included 4 acres of land on Main South Road in Templeton, two cars and a fully furnished five room house. 

Oscar is remembered on the Wharenui School Roll of Honour.


Related Resources

  • Online Cenotaph Record, Auckland War Menorial Museum. Oscar William Collings
  • Collings, O., Collings, W., Collings, E., Collings, H., & Collings, R. (2017). Oscar William Collings (1896-1945) | WikiTree: The FREE Family Retrieved 11 January 2017, from
  • "COLLINGS, Oscar William - WW1 55426 - Army". N.p., 2017. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.
  • "COLLINGS, Oscar William - WW1 55426 - Army". N.p., 2017. Web. 5 Mar. 2017.
  • "FLOTILLA AUSTRALIA". N.p., 2017. Web. 5 Mar. 2017.
  • Harper, Glyn. Dark Journey. 1st ed. Auckland [N.Z.]: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007. Print.
  • Wilson, Alan S. History Of Wharenui School, 1907-1982. 1st ed. [Christchurch, N.Z.: Jubilee Committee, 1982. Print.
  • Zealand, N. (2017). Papers Past | DEATHS (Press, 1945-01-18). Retrieved 11 January 2017, from
  • Zealand, N. (2017). Papers Past | ROLL OF HONOUR. (New Zealand Herald, 1918-02-15). Retrieved 11 January 2017, from
  • Zealand, N. (2017). Papers Past | WHARENUI SCHOOL. (Press, 1909-12-27). Retrieved 11 January 2017, from
  • Zealand, National. "Papers Past | POLICE COURT NEWS. (Star, 1916-10-13)". N.p., 2017. Web. 5 Mar. 2017.
  • Zealand, National. "Papers Past | THE COURTS. (Press, 1916-10-14)". N.p., 2017. Web. 5 Mar. 2017.
  • Zealand, National. "Papers Past | Page 8 Advertisements Column 1 (Press, 1945-03-08)". N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion

Oscar William Collings

First Names:Oscar William
Last Name:Collings
Place of Birth:Templeton, Canterbury, New Zealand