McGREGOR, Alexander Joseph
(Service number 15074)

Aliases Alec
First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 13 November 1889 Place of Birth Burkes Pass, Fairlie, South Canterbury

Enlistment Information

Date 8 March 1916 Age 26 years 2 months
Address at Enlistment Rolleston
Occupation Railway porter
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin John McGREGOR (father), Fairlie, Canterbury
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 6⅛ inches. Weight 10 stone 13 lbs. Chest measurement 34¾-37½ inches. Complexion fresh. Eyes grey. Hair light brown. Eyes both 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth fair. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Fit.

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 14th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company
Date 26 June 1916
Transport Maunganui or Tahiti 
Embarked From Wellington Destination Devonport, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
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 2 February 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for War Service.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

14 May 1917 admitted to No. 2 N Z Field Ambulance, suffering from deafness. Personally inspected and pronounced unfit for further service at the Front.

Post-war Occupations

Farmer; herd tester


Date 27 October 1957 Age 68 years
Place of Death Tauranga
Memorial or Cemetery Matamata Cemetery
Memorial Reference Military Grave
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Alexander Joseph McGregor, known as Alec, was born on 13 November 1889 at Burkes Pass, South Canterbury, the fourth son of John and Sarah Josephine (née Stent) McGregor, and was baptised on 29 December 1889 at the Timaru Catholic Church. Alec’s father, John McGregor had arrived in New Zealand from Banffshire, Scotland in 1863. Almost immediately he became associated with the Mackenzie district, bringing the first sheep down from Christchurch for the Grampians run. He bought the Glenmore run in 1874, and 16 years later he acquired a large property near Burke’s Pass. In 1878 at St Joseph’s in Dunedin he married Australian-born Sarah Josephine Stent. John was very much involved in local public affairs. The famous Lake Alexandrina trout were released into the lake in 1881 by John McGregor. Nearby Lake McGregor is named after this family. Alec spent nine years at the Burkes Pass School, leaving in 1904 to go home. There, in 1900, he was awarded a prize for the Standard II, the prizes being distributed after “a very jolly day was spent” in sports and partaking of a good spread.

Sometime after leaving school he moved to Rangiora, probably for his employment. In January 1916 he registered for enlistment in the Christchurch area, there being a shortage of men for the infantry, and a couple of weeks later was medically examined. Perhaps he was among the men for the Fourteenth Reinforcements who left Rangiora at the beginning of March. They paraded at the Drill Hall at 12.30 p.m. sharp to proceed to the railway station. The Rangiora Brass Band played the men to the station, and the Mayor and citizens gave them a public send-off. The Kaiapoi quota of the Fourteenth Reinforcements, which included Alexander Joseph McGregor in the Infantry, left for the North Island camps on 7 March, after parading at the King Edward Barracks and marching to the Christchurch railway station, accompanied by the Senior Cadets’ Bugle Band, for the 7.23 train to Lyttelton. “The men appeared to be of a good physical stamp, capable of taking plenty of hard knocks, . . . .” Perhaps Alexander had been one of nine recruits from the Rangiora district who were given a very hearty send-off before leaving to join the Kaiapoi quota. Appreciation of their readiness to fight for King and Empire was conveyed, and there were good wishes for their safe return.

At the time of enlistment, 8 March 1916, 26 year old Alexander gave his address as Rolleston where he was employed as a railway porter. Two years prior he had been at Rangiora. Single and Roman Catholic, he nominated his father, John McGregor, of Fairlie, as his next-of-kin. Alexander stood at 5 feet 6⅛ inches, weighed 10 stone 13 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 34¾-37½ inches. His complexion was fresh, his eyes grey, and his hair light brown. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all normal, as were his heart and lungs. In all other respects he was in good condition, free of diseases and vaccinated, although his teeth were only fair.

Private A. J. McGregor left Wellington for Devonport, England, with the Canterbury Infantry on 26 June 1916. Disembarking at Devonport on 22 August, he marched into Sling from where he proceeded overseas on 4 October, joined his battalion and was posted to Rouen. In May 1917 he was admitted to the No. 2 New Zealand Field Ambulance, sick. Suffering from deafness, he was subsequently personally inspected and, being pronounced unfit for further service at the Front, he was sent to England. Private Alexander J. McGregor embarked from Liverpool on 16 November 1917 by the “Ruahine” and arrived back in New Zealand on 6 January 1918. He was granted a week’s sick leave, to be spent at Fairlie. He was granted his final discharge soon after returning home, as he was no longer fit for war service. In March 1918 he was awarded a War Pension of 10 shillings per week for six months, this being extended for a further six months. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Alec was one of six local men welcomed home at a social in the Fairlie Public Hall in mid January 1918. The hall was crowded, extra seating having to be provided. The hall decorations were “becomingly patriotic”, and the floor and supper (the latter provided by Mr T. Clarke, a baker who was the father of another local serviceman) were all that could be desired. The men were congratulated on their safe return and on the progress they had made towards renewed health. It was hoped that they would soon be completely recovered, and they were thanked for their part in the great war. After reference was made to the hardships, sacrifices and sufferings entailed in the carrying out of their duty, hearty cheers were given for all the returned men. Music, singing and dancing and games occupied the evening until shortly after midnight, when the National Anthem and renewed cheers for the returned men brought proceedings to a close.

On his return from the war, Alec initially took up farming, with success it appears. He won first place out of 15 entries for his longhaired working collie dog at the twenty-first Fairlie Show held on 21 April 1919. Having recently taken on the position of secretary for the Mackenzie Caledonian Society, he had arrangements well in hand for the annual sports gathering in late December 1920. In 1922 he was residing at the Rising Sun Hotel in Auckland. Post war he was engaged briefly in farming, then as a herd tester. He married Sophie Martha Zimmerman in 1931. Some years after Alexander’s death, Sophie remarried. He died on 27 October 1957 at Tauranga and is buried in a military grave in the Matamata Cemetery.

The family of John and Sarah had a good war record. Alexander was a brother of Andrew Ewan McGregor who died in 1920 from the effects of wounds and pneumonia resulting from his war service, and of Philip Donald McGregor who died of wounds in 1915. His older brother James Allan McGregor (Allan) also served in World War I, going later and, it appears, suffering on his return; and a fifth son may have volunteered twice and been turned down twice. Two older brothers, Francis Lake McGregor and John Gladstone McGregor were listed in the Reserves. Lake, as he was known, had married in 1914 at Timaru, and in September 1918 he was medically classified C2, his appeal being adjourned sine die. Lake and John both died in 1945. Mrs McGregor provided old linen and material for pillow cases to the Fairlie Ladies’ Patriotic Society. Mr and Mrs McGregor died within three months of each other in 1918 and are buried in the Timaru Cemetery.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [22 November 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5544 0073507) [13 May 2015]; Matamata Cemetery (Find A Grave) [26 November 2013]; Temuka Leader, 1 May 1890, Sun, 20 January 1916, 10 February 1916, Timaru Herald, 29 April 1914, 21 October 1915, 8 & 22 January 1918, 3, 6, 7 & 10 July 1918, 11 October 1918, 22 April 1919, 18 & 30 December 1920, Star, 4 March 1916, Press, 7 & 8 March 1916, 22 October 1945, Lyttelton Times, 8 March 1916, New Zealand Times, 7 January 1918, Sun, 10 September 1918, Auckland Star, 10 December 1945 (Papers Past) [22 & 26 November 2013; 13 & 17 May 2015; 04, 08 & 09 November 2019]; School Admission Records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [15 May 2015]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [2014]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [22 November 2013]; Baptism records (Catholic Diocese of Christchurch CD, held by S C Branch NZSG) [17 May 2015]

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Related Documents

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to


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