Topic: William Graham Holmes

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William Graham Holmes (Service no. 29019) was a First World War soldier with links to Halswell.

William Graham Holmes was born on 7 June 1892 in Christchurch, the youngest son of George Gordon and Hannah Holmes of ‘Knocklynn’, Halswell.

Before enlistment William had been a farmer at Pigeon Bay. He is described in his military service file as being 5 foot 9 inches with dark hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion.

William enlisted in June 1916, and embarked for overseas service in October 1916 aboard the Willochra. He marched into Sling Camp in December 1916, before joining his battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, the B Company, in the field in France in March 1917.

By June he was unwell and admitted to field hospital, before transferring to the hospital in Boulogne with a knee injury. William never went back to the field but was transferred to the depot at Etaples where he was medically examined and then despatched to England, eventually being classified physically unfit for service and returning home to New Zealand aboard the Ruahine in November 1917. William suffered from chronic recurrent synovitis knee (water on the knee), which was aggravated by the marching and life in the trenches.

William was officially discharged on 3 February 1918, and presumably returned to his life at Pigeon Bay on his return to New Zealand.

Like many New Zealanders in 1918 William contracted the influenza virus and died on 15 November at Timaru. He was buried at Halswell Cemetery.

William is remembered on the Pigeon Bay war memorial.

It is possible that William has been incorrectly recorded as G.H. Holmes on the Halswell War Memorial, as he was known as Graham. His brother, John is also remembered on this memorial.


Related resources

  • Online Cenotaph record for William Holmes. Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Military service record for William Holmes. Archives New Zealand.
  • TROOPER GRAHAM HOLMES., Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, 19 November 1918
  • DEATHS., Sun, Volume V, Issue 1486, 16 November 1918

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William Graham Holmes

First Names:William Graham
Last Name:Holmes
Place of Birth:Christchurch