MONSON, Harold Frederick John
(Service number 10/3405)
|First Rank||Second Lieutenant||Last Rank||Second Lieutenant|
|Date||9 October 1890||Place of Birth||Dunedin, New Zealand|
|Date||5 August 1915||Age||26|
|Address at Enlistment||Timaru New Zealand|
|Previous Military Experience||High School Cadets in all 10 years|
|Next of Kin||F.J. Monson (father), care of Neill and Co., Dunedin, New Zealand|
|Medical Information||Upper teeth false. Height 5 feet 4¼ inches. Complexion Fair. Eyes Brown. Hair Brown.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||8th Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Wellington Infantry Battalion|
|Date||13 November 1915|
|Transport||Willochra or Tofua|
|Embarked From||Wellington, New Zealand||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Canterbury Infantry Regiment|
|Military Awards||Mentioned in Dispatches (MiD)|
Award Circumstances and Date
Operations Somme - 20th September - 2nd October 1916. This Officer performed excellent service throughout the past nine months as bayonet fighting instructor to his Battalion. He always displayed the greatest courage under fire and his conduct was particularly gallant when leading his men in a night attack against Goose Alley and Drop Alley on the night of the 20th/21st September 1916, where he was killed. He was a great example to his Battalion and it is mainly due to his efforts in training that the 2nd Canterbury Battalion excelled in bayonet fighting
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||20 September 1916||Age||26|
|Place of Death||Somme, France|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial, Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France|
|New Zealand Memorials||On Memorial wall, Timaru, Dunedin High Street Primary School; Memorial plaque, St Mary's Church, Timaru|
Harold Monson was born in Dunedin in 1890 and was a law clerk in Timaru when he enlisted in August 1915. He gave his next of kin as his father F.J. Monson, c/- Neill & Co, Dunedin and cited previous military experience of 10 years worth of high school cadets. He embarked with the 8th Reinforcements, Wellington Infantry Battalion in November 1915, sailing for Suez, Egypt, and at the end of the Dardanelles engagement was sent on to the Western Front at the Somme and later transferred to the Canterbury Infantry Battalion. Second Lieutenant Monson was killed in action on 20 September 1916 on the Somme and is remembered at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, France, aged 26. He was mentioned in dispatches after his death: Operations Somme 20th September - 2nd October 1916. This officer performed excellent service throughout the past nine months as bayonet fighting instructor to his battalion. He always displayed the greatest courage under fire and his conduct was particularly gallant when leading his men in a night attack against Goose Alley and Drop Alley on the night of the 20th/21st September 1916, where he was killed. He was a great example to his battalion and it is mainly due to his efforts in training that the 2nd Canterbury Battalion excelled in bayonet fighting.
The Timaru Herald of 24 February 1917 recorded: In connection with the death in action of Lieutenant Monson of Timaru, Brigadier-General Braithwaite has written to the deceased’s father, from Sling Camp, the following letter: “If I may, I want to tell you how deeply grieved I was when your gallant son was killed in action. He was a special favourite of mine on account of his sterling qualities. He was the best trainer at bayonet fighting and physical training that we had in the brigade, and when there was any special work to be done in that time, I always sent for him. Nothing was too great a trouble to him. The pages of history do not contain a finer story than that of the fighting of the 2nd Canterbury Battalion, during those 23 consecutive days on the Somme, and their bayonet work was what enabled them to turn the Germans out four times and at length hold the position. This was to a great extent the result of your son’s work. I am well aware that no words of mine can be of any comfort to you or your family in your sorrow, but I trust that as time goes on, the memory of his glorious life and death as a soldier may be a proud memory to you. He is a very great loss to my brigade, and to his own battalion in particular.”
Auckland War Memorial Cenotaph Database, August 2013, CWGC.
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Researched and Written by
Carol Bell, SC branch NZSG
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