Profile

FITZGERALD, Michael Joseph
(Service number 52594)

Aliases
First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Private

Birth

Date 29 March 1891 Place of Birth Temuka

Enlistment Information

Date 11 April 1917 Age 25 yrs 11 mths
Address at Enlistment Waiapi, Temuka
Occupation Farm labourer
Previous Military Experience 2nd (S.C.) Regiment
Marital Status
Next of Kin Mr James FITZGERALD (father), Waiapi, Temuka
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 5 inches. Weight 158 lbs. Chest 36-38 inches. Complexion ruddy. Eyes grey. Hair fair. Both eyes 6/6. Hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs all normal. Limbs and chest well formed. Full movement of joints. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated (left arm). Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Noted as Class A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Reinforcements G Compant (part)
Date 12 June 1917
Transport Maunganui or Tahiti
Embarked From Wellington Destination Plymouth, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With 3rd Battalion Otago Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns
Service Medals British War Medal; 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

Discharge

Date 18 January 1919 Reason No longer physically fit for War Service on account of wounds received in Action - gun shot wound to left chest.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

20 November 1917 reported wounded at Polygon Wood. 21 November 1917 dangerously ill; still dangerously ill at 24 November. 5 December 1917 admitted to 2nd London General Hospital - shrapnel wound to left arm. 6 December 1917 removed from dangerously ill list. 13 December progressing favourable. 4 January 1918 transferred to N.Z. General Hospital at Brockenhurst. 20 December 1918 the Medical Board found that he no longer required treatment for the gun shot wound to left chest penetrating the pericardium and recommended discharge. In May 1918 the board had assessed him t 50% for pension for six months. See Personnel File for details of Medical Board's assessments in May 1918. A consequent disability was displacement of the heart.

Post-war Occupations

Farmer

Death

Date 19 December 1973 Age 82 yrs
Place of Death Timaru
Cause
Notices Timaru Herald, 21 December 1973
Memorial or Cemetery Temuka Cemetery
Memorial Reference Services Section, Row 190, Plot 722
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

This Michael Joseph FITZGERALD, the son of James and Hanorah (Norah, nee SULLIVAN) FITZGERALD, was baptized Catholic on 15 April 1891 at Temuka. He was a brother of Denis Patrick who also served in WWI. Michael was drawn by the first military service ballot for No. 10 (South Canterbury) recruiting district, in November 1916, when he was a farm labourer at Waipi. Michael first appealed his call-up for service (27 February 1917), stating that he did all the work on his father's farm of 20 acres; that he had to support his father and mother and two sisters; that his father was a cripple; and that he had one brother who had "bunked" to the war (Denis Patrick). His appeal was dismissed but he was allowed till the end of March. By 11 April 1917 he was leaving for the Front. In fact, he left Timaru on 30 April 1917, at short notice because of transport rearrangements. During his time at the Front Michael suffered some severe wounds - shrapnel wound to left arm, gun shot wound in left chest penetrating the pericardium - and at times lay dangerously ill in hospital. The chest wound led to his discharge as physically unfit. Michael was noted as of good conduct and character while with the Expeditionary Forces. He returned home in December 1918. Michael was one of 45 returned soldiers who were presented with gold medals at a most memorable gathering organised by the Waitohi Flat Presentation and Memorial Committee and held in the Waitohi schoolroom in November 1919. An enjoyable concert was provided before the returned soldiers, assembled in the front seats, were thanked and welcomed home. All involved were thanked for their kindness and mementoes of the war and the ladies of Waitohi were thanked for the much-valued parcels sent to the front. After the war Michael engaged in farming, living initially at Waipi and later in Temuka. He died in Timaru and was buried at Temuka, with RSA honours.

Sources

Cenotaph Database [31 July 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0040362) [17 April 2014]; TDC Headstone image Temuka Cemetery [05 August 2013]; Timaru Herald, 25 November 1916, 28 February 1917, 10 April 1917, 30 April 1917, 29 November 1917, 6 December 1917, 13 December 1918, 10 November 1919, Evening Post, 27 November 1917, Press, 27 November 1917, 11 December 1918, North Otago Times, 8 December 1917 (Papers Past) [20 September 2013, 27 March 2014; 25 July 2014; 16 September 2014]; Catholic Diocese of Christchurch - Baptism index V.1.2 (South Canterbury Branch NZSG Computer Resources) [27 April 2014]; NZ Birth Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [ 18 April 2014]; Timaru Herald, 21 December 1973 (Timaru District Library) [19 September 2014]

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