Topic: Henry Ernest John Wotton

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Henry Ernest John "Harry" Wotton (Service no. 6/1059) was a First World War soldier with links to New Brighton.

Henry Ernest John WottonHenry Ernest John Wotton was born on 9th December 1888 in Templeton. His father, Ernest John Wotton, and mother, Philadelphia Barrett (Delly) were both born in England. They married in 1888 and lived around Christchurch until moving to Belfast in the 1890s. Harry was the oldest of sixteen children. His father was works manager at the Belfast factory of the Zelandia Soap, Candle and Trading Co.

Harry attended Belfast School where he passed Standard 4. He worked as a clerk for the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company Christchurch where he helped organise the company picnics and took part in the events there, winning a half-mile race and the 100yds office staff race in March 1910. He was a member of the Belfast Social and Athletic Club ad was elected secretary at the club's inception. He joined the Kaiapoi Volunteer Corps. He lived at 40 Donegal Street in Belfast with his parents. He rode motorcycles: on Wednesday 23 October 1912 he was fined "20s and costs for having motor-cycled too fast". Music was another interest: he was a principal singer in the cast of musical theatre productions at the Theatre Royal and sang at amateur social events. His services were in demand in the country townships as a pianist for dances.

Harry enlisted on 16 April 1914 but he was arrested on "a charge of failing to provide for the maintenance of an unborn child, of which, it was claimed, he was the father". The case went to court on 21 and 22 August 1914. The defense argued that as the accused was a member of the Expeditionary Force the provisions of the English Army Act applied and he could not be arrested. There were many points of law raised but none were answered as the magistrate dismissed the case after hearing Wotton's denial of the girl's allegations.

He embarked on 16 October 1914 as part of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion 1st Co. at Lyttelton, on either the Tahiti or the Athenic bound for Egypt where he arrived on 4 December 1914. On 25 December 1914 till 27 December 1914 he was in hospital at Zeitoun Camp near Cairo for dysentery for two days; on 27 December 1914 till 18 January 1915 he was in the Egyptian Army Hospital, Pont de Koubbeh, at Cairo for pneumonia and recovered after 23 days. But on 19 April 1915 he was back in hospital, in the Stationary Hospital on Lemnos Island. He was appointed Lance Corporal on 2 June 1915.

Harry was killed on 7 August 1915 at Gallipoli in the Battle of Sari Bair when the New Zealand Infantry Brigade was tasked with taking Chunuk Bair.

He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Harry is remembered on the Chunuk Bair New Zealand Memorial, the Belfast War Memorial and the family grave in Belfast Cemetery. His name is on the New Brighton Surf Bathing and Lifesaving Club memorial window.

Photo of H.E.J. Wotton's name on Chunuk Bair New Zealand Memorial from NZ War Graves ProjectWotton family grave in Belfast Cemetary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Henry Ernest John Wotton


First Names:Henry Ernest John
Last Name:Wotton
Place of Birth:Templeton, Christchurch