Topic: Heaton David Lisle Manson (Service No. 39073)

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Heaton Manson was a former student of the Wharenui School who lived for several years in the Riccarton area and served in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

Heaton Manson was born on 20 June 1897 in Christchurch to Robert David Gebbie Manson, a stockman and Annie (neeTaylor) Manson. He had several siblings; Ruahine Pearl and Rubenia Pearl (both born 2 August 1895), Heaton himself, Gladys Annie (born 20 May 1900), Ida Mavis (born 25 April 1905) and Orton Winston (born 6 March 1908). From the records available the Manson family had already lived for several years in the Lower Riccarton/Hillmorton area.

Heaton began his education at the Fendalton School but before the newly built Wharenui School opened in January 1907 the family moved to 31 Mandeville Street in Riccarton. He was among the first large influx of students enrolled in the Wharenui School on 30 January 1907: his name appears on the school's 'Register of Admissions, Progress, Withdrawls' as the 92nd student. He began at standard two level and he finished up at the school in December 1912, having attained standard five. There is no indication in the Register about what he intended to do after leaving school however when he enlisted in the army his occupation was stated variously as plumber and labourer with the City Gas Company of Christchurch.

When Heaton enlisted in the army on 18 October 1916 he was more than six months shy of the legal age to volunteer of twenty years. He had already presented himself for a physical examination on 28 July 1916 which recorded "Fit : physique slight but well built and athletic". It also found the distinguishing "three moles on right side of back, two on left shoulder blade, one on outside of right forearm". His military training began at Featherstone where he was posted to the rank of Private in G Company, 22nd contingent of reinforcements. The 22nd reinforcements were moved between Featherstone, Trentham and Tauherenikau camps several times in adition to the march with full-kit over the Rimutaka Ranges. Embarkation for the voyage overseas may have been something of a relief for the men when it happened. In Wellington Harbour the 22nd's boarded HMNZT (Troopship voyage 77) 'Mokoia' on12 February 1917 and sailed the following day. Their voyage took them to Albany, Australia (24 February), Capetown, South Africa (18 March), Freetown, Sierra Leone (6 April and finally, Plymouth, England where they disema]barked on 2 May 1917. They marched straight out to Sling Camp on the Salisbury Plain that same day.

At Sling Camp Heaton was posted to D Company in the 5th Reserve Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 3 May. The training here was tough and swift as the soldiers were then sent to France on 6 June. The New Zealand General Depot at Etaples on the French coast was the first point of arrival on 8 June. Following more up to date training and tactical insruction there Heaton was marched out to join the New Zealand Division at the front on 25 June, arriving with his new parent unit - B Company, 4th Battalion New Zealand Rifles the following day.

In early July 1917 the Fourth Battalion (along with the other battalions of the NZRB) had been 'loaned' to the First French Army who assigned them the task of preparing roads and emplacements, railways, dugouts and cables for the French artillery. It was hard tiring work in difficult conditions but it earned the New Zealanders the high praise of the French High Command. Heaton was admitted to Hospital on 19 July for Varicocele a condition he may not have been aware he had until the heavy labouring work aggravated it and caused the discomfort to flare up. He was discharged from No 3 NZ Field Hospital two days later and rejoined 4th Battalion.

Much of August 1917 was spent in the Warneton sector where the Rifle Brigade managed to build 20,000 yards of frontline trenches and lay many kilometres of cable all while under constant bombardment from German artillery. Many men were killed or wounded and the rates of sickness soared during the appalling weather conditions. September brought no relief as the Brigade was seconded to the British Second Army near Zillibeke where they were employed laying underground cable. Three months of continual hard labouring exhausted the Rifle Brigade to the point where the men were not in prime physical readiness when they were rushed in to take part in the Ypres Offensive. This was the most significant action for the New Zealand Division to date, involving all of the units at some point of the campaign.

On 12 October the New Zealand Division launched its attack. It was preceded by hasty preparation which was hampered severely by the wet weather. Most of the allied heavy artillery could not get into proper position due to the mud which also greatly reduced their rate of fire. The bombardment of the German positions proved totally ineffective and most of the German emplacements and barbed wire were still intact.  The New Zealanders had to face German defences of barbed wire 30 yards deep and a great many machine gun positions. The attack effectively stalled within two hours due to the massive casualties.

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Heaton David Lisle Manson (Service No. 39073)


First Names:Heaton David Lisle
Last Name:Manson
Place of Birth:Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
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Heaton David Lisle Manson (Service No. 39073) by Sepia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License