(Service number 54343)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank


Date 12 February 1889 Place of Birth Waimate

Enlistment Information

Date 13 February 1917 Age 27 yrs 8 mths
Address at Enlistment Lambton Quay Police Station, Wellington
Occupation Police constable
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Miss Mary FITZGERALD (aunt), Augustine Street, Waimate
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 6 feet. Weight 150 lbs, Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair fair. Right eye 6/6, left eye 6/9. Hearing and colour vision both good. Limbs and chest well formed. Full movement of joints. Heart and lungs normal. 2 weeks illness with appendicular colic. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. 'Somewhat slow in carrying out orders.'

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 27th Reinforcements G Company
Date 16 July 1917
Transport Athenic 
Embarked From Wellington Destination Liverpool, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Western Europe
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


Date 21 February 1919 Reason No longer physically fit for war service  (debility frost bite).

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

1st February 1918 admitted to Casualty Clearing Station - sick. 27 February admitted to Walton-on-Thames Hospital; 4 March transferred to Hospital at Hornchurch. 13 April 1918 admitted to Hospital at Codford, UK - dermatitis. 31 August 1918 admitted to Codford - bronchitis. The frost bite to his fingers dates from February 1918.

Post-war Occupations



Date 17 February 1928 Age 39 yrs
Place of Death Perfection Knitting Mills, Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Cause Murdered
Memorial or Cemetery Fawkner Cemetery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Memorial Reference Roman Catholic Section
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

This William FITZGERALD was a son of Irish-born parents, John and Johannah FITZGERALD of Waimate.. He was baptized Catholic on 20 June 1889 at Waimate. William was a brother of James FITZGERALD 17/56, who was killed in action on 12 October 1917 in Belgium. It appears that both his parents died in the 1890s. While William was initially the next-of-kin for his brother, their aunt Mary FITZGERALD of Waimate, became next-of-kin for both William and James. Prior to enlistment William was a police constable stationed in Wellington. While he was listed in Waimate in the 1911 and 1914 electoral rolls, William was in Wellington in December 1916 where he suffered a serious head wound and required hospitalization while, as a constable on duty, he became involved in a domestic dispute. Perhaps there was more going on than first evident, as the accused was found guilty on only one of three charges. He was one of the taller men to enlist, as befits a constable. He left for the Front on 16 July 1917, not long before James's death, and served in France. William too had a few visits to hospital while abroad. He embarked for the return to New Zealand per "Briton" on 23 December 1918. William's disability was attributed to his service in the Field and brought about his discharge. He disability followed frost bite and had the following consequences - shortness of breath on exertion, easily tired, cough, no aches, very anaemic, no energy (see Personnel File for details of Medical Board report). He embarked for the return to New Zealand per "Briton" on 23 December 1918 and arrived at Lyttelton in late January 1919. It seems that William remained in New Zealand with the police until about 1924 before going to Australia, where he met a tragic death in 1928. William had been working as a night watchman in Carlton, Victoria, for a year and was in poor health, when he was murdered. A bullet shot at close range penetrated his heart. A cousin who lived near Cobram, Victoria, contacted police and made arrangements for William's burial and disposal of his property. The detectives who visited William's lodgings in Carlton learnt that he had been born in Waimate, that he had served with the New Zealand forces in the Great War, and that his health was affected by war injuries, such that he could undertake no hard work. William had returned to New Zealand for a holiday while living in Australia. At the time of his death, one of his sisters was a nun in the Convent of St Joseph in Gisborne and the other was living in Waimate. It appears that no one was brought to justice for William's death.


Cenotaph Database [31 July 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0040390) [17 April 2014]; Australian Death Index ( [February 2014]; Catholic Diocese of Christchurch - Baptism index V.1.2 (South Canterbury Branch NZSG Computer Resources) [27 April 2014]; Oamaru Mail, 20 December 1916, Evening Post, 20 December 1916, 15 & 16 January 1917, 14 February 1917, Dominion, 20, 21 & 29 December 1916, 12 January 1917, Timaru Herald, 21 December 1916, 25 January 1919, NZ Truth, 20 January 1917, 17 February 1917, Ashburton Guardian, 17 February 1917 (Papers Past) [20 April 2014; 22 September 2014]; The Argus, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 20 & 22 February 1928, 27 April 1928 ( [21 February 2014]; Fawkner Cemetery, Victoria, Australia burial record (The Greater metropolitan Cemeteries Trust) [22 September 2014]; Victoria Police - Indexes to Missing People (Helen Doxford Harris OAM) [21 February 2014]; NZ Birth Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [April 2014]

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