(Service number 25/948)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 14 May 1884 Place of Birth Invercargill New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 13 October 1915 Age 31
Address at Enlistment 26 Preston Street Timaru New Zealand
Occupation Cycle & Motor Mechanic
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs E. Blackham (mother), 26 Preston St, Timaru
Religion C of E
Medical Information 5 foot 4 3/4 inches tall, weight 143 lbs, chest 34 1/2 - 37 1/2, fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, good teeth

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation NZ Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 3rd Battalion, C Company
Date 5 February 1916
Transport Ulimaroa or Mokoia or Navua
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With NZ Rifle Brigade, 3rd Battalion

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian and France
Service Medals British War Medal and Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

15 September 1916 - Wounded in action - admitted Main Dressing Station; 21 September 1916 - Admitted to No 9 General Hosptial Rouen France; 23 September 1916 - hospital ship to England; 24 September 1916 - admitted NZGH, Brockenhurst; Died 26 September 1916 at Brockenhurst

Post-war Occupations


Date 26 September 1916 Age 32
Place of Death No1 NZGH, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, England
Cause Died of wounds
Memorial or Cemetery Brockenhurst (St Nicholas) Churchyard, Hampshire, England
Memorial Reference Plot A Row 5, Grave 9
New Zealand Memorials On Memorial wall, Timaru, St Mary's Church Timaru, Family Grave Eastern Cemetery Invercargill, Invercargill War Memorial

Biographical Notes

John was born in Invercargill on 14 May 1884, fifth son of Richard (1837-1912) and Elizabeth (nee Webb, 1855-1924) Blackham. He was one of 11 children, three who had died in infancy and are mentioned on the family grave in the Eastern Cemetery, Invercargill. At the time of his birth, his father was farming at Wrey’s Bush, Invercargill, and later the family moved to Dee Street, Invercargill, where his father was a hotel keeper. After his education at the Middle School, Invercargill, he was apprenticed to P.H. Vickery, Motor & Cycle Agents, Tay Street, Invercargill. After his father’s death, the family moved to 26 Preston Street, Timaru.

John enlisted on 13 October 1915, and at the time he was aged 31, single, living at home, and employed by Brehaut Brothers, Cycle & Motor Dealers, Timaru. He was described as being 5 foot 4 ¾ inches in height, Anglican, weighing 143 lbs, chest measuring 34 ½ - 37 ½ inches, of fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair and having good teeth. He nominated his mother as his next of kin. After initial training, he left from Wellington on 5 February 1916, for Suez, Egypt, with the 3rd Battalion, C Company, NZ Rifle Brigade, aboard the Ulimaroa, Mokoia or Navua, arriving at Alexandria on 13 March 1916. After a short period in Egypt, he left aboard the Alaunia, from Alexandria for France, on 7 April 1916.

In the summer of 1916 he did a short course training as a pigeon handler before returning to the trenches on the Somme. On 15 September his battalion was part of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, their task being to capture Flers. On this day John received gunshot wounds to his left thigh and right shoulder and was admitted to the Main Dressing Station. He was transferred to No 9 General Hospital, Rouen, on 21 September, evacuated from there on 23 September aboard a hospital ship for England and admitted to No 1 NZ General Hospital Brockenhurst on 24 September. On 26 September 1916 he died from multiple gunshot wounds and tetanus, and was buried the next day in the Brockenhurst (St Nicholas) Churchyard Plot A, Row 5, Grave 9.

After the war ended, his mother was forwarded a scroll and plaque recognising his service and his British War Medal and Victory Medals were forwarded to his executors, Radford Heney Broderick, Bank Manager, Invercargill. John had written his will in his Pay Book, leaving all his possessions to his siblings, Sarah, Siss, Lizzie, Willie, George and Harry. John is commemorated on the Timaru War Memorial, at St Mary’s Anglican Church, Timaru, the family grave at the Eastern Cemetery, Invercargill (Block 4, Plot 139) and the Invercargill War Memorial. Three of John’s brothers also served overseas - 34808 Pte William Blackham served with the Otago Infantry Regiment as a farrier in England, 82298 Pte Harry Blackham served in France with 2 NZ (Area) Employment Company and 12729 BQMS George Thomas Blackham served in France with the NZ Field Artillery.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph database (September 2013); New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 at;; NZ BDM Historical Records at; Clare Church “New Zealand Graves Brockenhurst”, pages 106 – 107; SCroll web submission by S Vergeest, 14 October 2018; See Trademe auction for an image of the home of John & Elizabeth Blackham at 26 Preston Street Timaru (cited October 2018)

External Links

Related Documents

No documents available.

Researched and Written by

Carol Bell, SC branch NZSG & Timaru Herald; Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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