Topic: Thomas Wark

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Thomas "Tom" Wark (Service no. 27050) was a First World War soldier with links to Woolston and Waltham

Portrait of Thomas Wark from Onward : Portraits of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Auckland, New Zealand : Fair Dinkum Publications, 2013-2015. Thomas Wark was born in Christchurch on Sunday 27th February 1887 to Rudolph Wark, a commercial traveller, and his wife Katherine (Catharina Josephina nee Nissen) originally from Prussia/ Germany. Rudolph and Catharina had married in Marylebone, London, in 1879 and immigrated to New Zealand the same year, becoming New Zealand citizens in 1885. Electoral Rolls of 1890-1896 show the family as living in Ferry Road, Woolston, before moving to 236 Wilsons Road, Opawa, after Katherine's death in 1903.

Tom was the Wark's third child and second son in the family of five, (Ellen Frances Natalie, John Rudolph, Tom Rudolph, Lily Hinemoa and Rudolf Duke who died 1899 aged 18 months). The children attended Woolston Primary school where Tom's elder brother John won an attendance award in 1893.

Tom had a dark complexion, grey eyes and dark hair. He stood 5 foot 5 ½ inches tall and weighed 145lb, with tattoos on both arms. At the time of enlistment he was listed as a single man 29 years old, although he did have a young child, Alfred Thomas (born 9th August 1912), with Ethel Rosina Beattie. However his next of kin was listed as his father Rudolph Julius Edward Wark, Wilson's Road, Opawa.

He worked as a barman for W. F. Grigsby at the Club Hotel Sydenham, where he also resided.

He was assigned to Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion. 1st company, Reinforcements as a Private on the 31st May 1916 and was sent to Trentham for training where he took the oath on 1st June 1916. The troops left Wellington on 23rd September 1916 on board the HMNZT 65 Pakeha arriving in Devonport UK on 18th November. Once disembarked they were marched to Sling Camp situated in the heart of the great Salisbury Plains before being deployed to Etaples training camp in France on the 10th December of the same year.

On 7th January 1917 Private Wark joined the 2nd Battalion in the field until 7th June when he has wounded in action. He was taken by the No. 77 Field Ambulance to the No. 11 casualty clearing station and from there to the No. 32 Stationary hospital in Boulogne. On 21st June he was transferred to the No. 1 Convalescence Depot at Boulogne before being discharged to the No. 3 Rest Camp on 22nd June. On the 20th July Private Wark re-joined his unit in the field only to be killed in action 2 ½ weeks later on Monday 6th August at the age of 30 years.

Thomas is remembered at the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial, Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Belgium and the Woolston War Memorial. His medals, the British War Medal and Victory Medal, along with the memorial Scroll and Plaque were sent to his father Mr. Rudolph Julius Edward Wark, Wilson's Road, Opawa Christchurch.


Related resources

  • Online Cenotaph record for Thomas Wark. Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Thomas Wark’s military personnel file. Archives New Zealand (Archway)
  • New Zealand Electoral Rolls, 1853–1981. via Ancestry Library Edition
  • New Zealand Historical Births, Deaths and Marriages online.

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Thomas Wark

First Names:Thomas
Last Name:Wark
Place of Birth:Christchurch