(Service number 49604)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||3 June 1886||Place of Birth||Ashburton|
|Date||23 March 1917||Age||30|
|Address at Enlistment||Cricklewood, Timaru|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||James Corbett (father) Cricklewood, Timaru|
|Medical Information||5 foot 6 1/2 inches tall, weight 151 pounds 68kgs), chest 35 1/2 - 37 1/2 inches, medium complexion, grey eyes, light brown hair, slight varicocele|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||27th Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||C Coy Canterbury Infantry Battalion|
|Date||12 June 1917|
|Transport||HMNZT 87 Tahiti|
|Embarked From||Wellington, N.Z.||Destination||Devonport, England|
|Other Units Served With||2 Coy 3rBattalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment|
|Last Unit Served With||2 Company, 3 Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment|
|Service Medals||British War Medal, 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
|Date||29 September 1918||Age||32|
|Place of Death||Havrincourt, France|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Fifteen Ravine Cemetery, Villers-Plouich, Nord France|
|Memorial Reference||V.I. B7|
|New Zealand Memorials||On Memorial wall, Timaru; Ashburton War Memorial; Fairlie War Memorial|
Adam born at Ashburton on 3 June 1886, the third son of James (1853-1931) and Mary Ann Corbett (1857-1890?). Adam’s father James was brought up on his own father’s farm which he had managed before coming out to Lyttelton in 1880. In 1878 he had married Mary Ann, the daughter of the late Mr Hugh Corbett of Co Down. For about 15 years he farmed sixty acres at Ashburton Forks before leasing 289 acres at Cricklewood, where he ran about 450 sheep and did a bit of cropping. Adam received his education at the Albury and Cricklewood Schools, and on leaving worked for his father as a labourer and engine driver on the family farm at Cricklewood.
Adam was balloted for war service and was medically boarded at Timaru on 27 February 1917. His enlistment papers described him as being 5 foot 6½ inches tall, single, Presbyterian, weighing 151 pounds (68kgs), with a chest measuring 35½-37½ inches, of medium complexion, with grey eyes, light brown hair and slight varicocele. He nominated his father James as his next of kin and marched into Trentham camp on 23 March 1917, where he was posted to C Company, Canterbury Infantry Battalion. He also began five weeks of basic infantry training, followed by more advanced training at Featherston and satellite camps at Awapuni and Tauherenikau. On 12 June he boarded HMNZT 87 “Tahiti” in Wellington along with his brother Hugh, who was also with C Company, and the rest of the 27 Reinforcements. They sailed in convoy with HMNZT 86 “Maunganui” destined for Devonport, England. After a rough Tasman crossing a short stop in Albany, Western Australia, was welcome. Shore leave was granted, but unfortunately for some the pubs were closed. A further short stop hapened at Capetown on their way to Devomport where they arrived on 16 August. Time during the voyage was filled by drills, sports like boxing and wrestling, concerts and other activities. On arrival though Adam marched to join 1 Canterbury Infantry Regiment at Sling Camp where another five weeks of intensive training took place before they left for France on 24 September 1917.
In France, Private Corbett marched into the NZ Depot at Etaples on 27 September, 1917. This was a much hated camp by the troops where two mutinies had taken place in August 1916 and September 1917, which resulted in two men being executed by firing squad. Wilfred Owen the Welsh poet described the camp as the “bull ring” because of the brutality of the instructors – many of whom had not served at the front – and the generally harsh conditions that reigned there. From here on 9 October Private Corbett was posted to 2 Company, 3 Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment in the field. At this time his company was involved in the Third Battle of Ypres where they were in the trenches on Gravenstafel Spur. This battle was a failure and by mid-November the troops had moved into the Polygon Wood sector just south of Passchendaele. Here they faced a mangled landscape, waterlogged, filled with the detritus of war – including dead mules – and undeveloped as a trench system. Holding the line in this sector for the next three winter months would be a trying experience. Another failed attack, at Polderhoek in December 1917, added to their misery. In the meantime other battalions of the Division had arrived, and a 3rd Brigade group, consisting of the 3rd Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 3rd New Zealand (Rifle) Brigade and the 2nd Wellington and the 2nd Otago Battalions, had been formed.
In March 1918 a massive German attack tore a huge gap in the British front. In the New Zealand Division’s finest hour, New Zealand and other troops were thrown into the gap to try to halt the oncoming enemy. Fighting on the old Somme battlefield of 1916, they managed to blunt the offensive. German thrusts elsewhere were also halted. The New Zealanders spent a difficult summer on the now stabilised line before launching a counter-ofensive in August. During this time on 29 September 1918, during the Battle of Cambrai and Hindenburg Line, Private Corbett’s unit was involved in storming the line of the Canal du Nord when he was killed in action. He, along with 52 other NZ troops, was buried in the Fifteen Ravine Cemetery, Villers-Plouich, Nord France by the Rev GT Robson, Chaplain 1 Canterbury Regiment.
After the war Adam’s father James was sent his service war medals consisting of the British War Medal and Victory Medal, and later a scroll and plaque. His name is commemorated on the Timaru Memorial Wall, Ashburton War Memorial and Fairlie War Memorials. Two other brothers also served in Western Europe: 51345 Private Hugh Corbett with the 2nd Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment; and 47124 Rifleman Samuel Corbett with the 2nd Battalion NZ Rifle Brigade. His brother Isaac had appealed his conscription and was held on the Reserves List.
New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at https://nzef.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=53288; New Zealand War Graves Project at https://www.nzwargraves.org.nz/casualties/adam-corbett; "Canterbury District. Killed in action" in the Press 17 October 1918, and "In memorium" in the Timaru Herald 29 & 30September 1919, courtesy of Papers Past at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/
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Researched and Written by
Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
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