(Service number 25/948)
|First Rank||Rifleman||Last Rank||Rifleman|
|Date||14 May 1884||Place of Birth||Invercargill New Zealand|
|Date||13 October 1915||Age||31|
|Address at Enlistment||26 Preston Street Timaru New Zealand|
|Occupation||Cycle & Motor Mechanic|
|Previous Military Experience|
|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|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|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|
|Campaigns||Egyptian and France|
|Service Medals||British War Medal and Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
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
|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|
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 http://nzef.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=21285; Ancestry.com.au; NZ BDM Historical Records at https://bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz; Clare Church “New Zealand Graves Brockenhurst”, pages 106 – 107; SCroll web submission by S Vergeest, 14 October 2018; See Trademe auction https://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/Listing.aspx?id=1777695375&fbclid=IwAR1BMqBMAhvJkSChwtb7CY1rwv9p-glQ159yP8JpKqwjEVs_0iIthMlGMRc for an image of the home of John & Elizabeth Blackham at 26 Preston Street Timaru (cited October 2018)
- Great War Stories - Rifleman John Blackham - Timaru Herald 1 April 2017 (pdf, 69.4 KB updated 15-Sep-2017)
Researched and Written by
Carol Bell, SC branch NZSG & Timaru Herald; Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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