Topic: Stephen Radcliffe Archer

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Stephen Radcliffe Archer (Service Number 7/509) was a First World War soldier with links to the suburb of Fendalton.

Portrait from In Memoriam, 1914-1918 [Wanganui Collegiate School], 1919[?] - AWMMStephen Radcliffe Archer was born at Colwell in Fendalton, Christchurch on the 5th of September 1891, the second son of Fulbert Astley and Amy Charlotte (nee Radcliffe) Archer. 

Stephen's grandfather Fulbert Archer had been a partner in the old-established English-based merchant trading and banking firm, Miles and Co, and Miles Archer and Co, which had done extensive trade between Canterbury and England between the 1850s and 1890s.

Stephen's father Fulbert Astley Archer was the General Superintendent and manager of Dalgety and Company, and the local director of Shaw Saville and Albion shipping company. He died in 1911. 

Fulbert and Amy lived at Colwell on Burnside Road (now  Memorial Avenue). There were three children in the family; Fulbert Cave, Stephen Radcliffe, and Hester Amy. 

Stephen was educated at Christ's College and at Wanganui Collegiate School. After leaving school he worked in Dalgety and Company for a time before taking up farming at Toa Toa, Opotiki. At the outbreak of war he had been breaking in land near Opotiki. His enlistment papers give his occupation as farmer.

Stephen enlisted on the 28th of August 1914, joining the Machine Gun Section of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles, going to the Front with the Main Expeditionary Force. He was among the first to leave New Zealand, embarking from Wellington on the 16th of October 1914 for Suez, Egypt on the Tahiti and disembarking at Alexandria.

Stephen, nicknamed 'Rusty' because of the colour of his hair, was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 13th of June 1915. He was killed in action at No. 1 Outpost, Walker’s Ridge, Gallipoli Peninsula. His official date of death is the 22nd of June, 1915. However, a newspaper report records a letter from another soldier which describes 'Rusty Archer' as being fit and well, two days before the 30th of June 1915.  

"Entered the School in May, 1910. He was in the XV. and the Shooting VIII. After a brief career on the land at Opotiki, he joined the 1st Machine Gun Section of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles, and left with the Main Body. He landed at Gallipoli on May 12th, and was killed on June 22nd, 1915. Commonly known as 'Rusty,' he was universally beloved by his contemporaries. His Lieutenant, an old Christ's College boy, speaking of his death in a letter to his brother, said: 'It hits pretty hard, as he was without exception the finest man it has been my lot to meet." (In Memoriam, 1914-1918 [Wanganui Collegiate School])

Tpr SR Archer CMR

Photo: Stephen R Archer seated in centre, with his horse Paratutu behind him. Standing at left is 'Bain', reclining on left is 'Cromer', reclining on his right is 'Little', and reclining at far right is 'G Harper'. From the Stephen Radcliffe Archer collection, Mrs MCH Deans.



Telegram send wool to Egypt

Photo: This telegram arrived at Stephen's mother's home in Christchurch. Dated 17 march 1915, he had cabled from Cairo, 'Get manager if possible to send wool prices very well. Love to all. Archer.' 'Manager' means manager of Dalgety's.

He is commemorated at the Canterbury Cemetery, Gallipoli, and at his family plot at Waimairi Cemetery, Christchurch.

He was posthumously awarded the 1914 – 1945 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 

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Stephen Radcliffe Archer

First Names:Stephen Radcliffe
Last Name:Archer
Place of Birth:Christchurch, New Zealand