Topic: Francis Gilbert Greenbank

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Francis Gilbert Greenbank (Service no. 15518) was a First World War soldier with links to Peterborough Street

Francis Greenbank (Frank) was born on 3 October 1890 at Whitton, Middlesex, England. His parents were Harry Greenbank and Lena Phoebe Scott. Frank had 3 brothers, Harold Arthur, George Edward and Herbert Walter; and 6 sisters, Lena, Ella, Evelyn, Dulcie, Mabel and Dorothy (known as Doll). The family also adopted a baby boy named John.

The family migrated to New Zealand in 1909, arriving in Wellington in June aboard the SS Wakanui.  At that time both Frank and his father were working as farriers. The family settled in Christchurch at 141 Peterborough Street, and Frank continued working for his father as a blacksmith. In 1919 Harry Greenbank moved his blacksmith's business from Colombo St to Oamaru. Harry died in 1942 aged 76, and Lena (known as Phoebe) died in Oamaru in 1959 at the ripe old age of 98.

The Star on 8 December 1917 contains the following story about Frank's father:

"Interesting claims can be made by a Christchurch blacksmith, Mr H. Greenbank, of Colombo Street, regarding the shoeing of cavalry horses, he having performed that necessary office for horses that were leaving England to take part in the Zululand campaign in 1878, and also for horses going to participate in the last South African war, and again, after his arrival in Christchurch, he shod horses belonging to the first Canterbury contingent leaving for the present world struggle. Mr Greenbank, whose home was at Cranford, near Hounslow, was only nine years old when he commenced to work at his father's forge, and only four years older when he shod twenty horses belonging to the 19th Hussars, then leaving for the Zululand campaign. His farrier's certificate won at the Royal Agricultural Society's Jubilee Show, held at Windsor Great Park in 1889, was signed personally by the late Queen Victoria. The horses of the late King Edward and King George, then Prince of Wales, wore among those shod by Mr Greenbank. One result of the gift of a battle-cruiser by the Dominion to the Motherland was that it decided Mr Greenbank to emigrate to New Zealand, and during the visits here of the late Lord Kitchener and Captain R. F. Scott, and Mr Will Crooks, Mr Greenbank made special presentation "lucky" horseshoes for the distinguished visitors, cordial letters of acknowledgment being received from each."

Frank enlisted with the 1st Canterbury Infantry Battalion in Christchurch on 10 March 1916, and completed his attestation at Trentham on the 6th of April. He joined the C Company of the 15th Reinforcements, and embarked for England on 26 July 1916, arriving in Devonport on 4 October 2016. He was posted to France just 2 & ½ weeks later.

Frank was briefly attached to the School of Instruction in July 1917, and was admitted to hospital in February 1918 as a result of a gas attack.  He was appointed as a Temporary Sergeant whilst employed as a caterer in the Officers Mess at Larkhill, from March to August 1918.

Frank returned to NZ aboard the Adolph Woerman on 28 Sept 1919, and was finally discharged from the Army on 31 October 1919, "on termination of period of engagement", after serving for 3 years and 70 days. He married Alice Elizabeth Rees on 15 April 1920 at St Mark’s in Opawa and they settled at 73 Barbour Street for the next 40 years.  Their daughter Edna Rose Greenbank was born on 2 November 1920.

Frank worked for New Zealand Railways until his retirement in 1945.  Frank died on 26 January 1971 and is buried in Ruru Lawn Cemetery.  His wife, Alice, died on 22 September 1973 and is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery.  Daughter Edna died on 7 December 2003 and is buried in Linwood Cemetery.


Related resources

  • Online cenotaph record for Francis Gilbert Greenbank. Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Francis Gilbert Greenbank's military personnel file. Archives New Zealand (Archway)
  • LOCAL AND GENERAL., Star, Issue 12107, 8 September 1917

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Francis Gilbert Greenbank

First Names:Francis Gilbert
Last Name:Greenbank
Place of Birth:Whitton, Middlesex, England