PERRY, Robert William
(Service number 58286)
|First Rank||Driver||Last Rank||Driver|
|Date||2 September 1893||Place of Birth||New Zealand|
|Date||7 May 1917||Age||23 years|
|Address at Enlistment||Criterion Hotel, Waimate|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mrs R. J. Perry (mother), Waimate, South Canterbury|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 5½ inches. Weight 160 lbs. Chest measurement 36-39 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes brown. Hair fair. Sight – both eyes 6/6. Hearing & colour vision both normal. Limbs & chest well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Heart & lungs normal. Suffered sunstroke five years ago. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccination mark on left arm. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Class A.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||New Zealand Army Service Corps|
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||8 November 1918||Age||25 years|
|Place of Death||Featherston Military Camp Hospital|
|Cause||Died from influenza|
|Notices||Sun, 11 November 1918; Press, 12 November 1918|
|Memorial or Cemetery||St Peter's Anglican Church Cemetery, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch|
|Memorial Reference||Plot 874|
|New Zealand Memorials||Featherston Cemetery Memorial; 2015 additions to the Tiimaru Memorial Wall|
Robert William Perry, known as Willie, was born on 2 September 1893, the only son of Thomas William and Rebecca Jane (née Osborne) Perry. He was born in New Zealand but he did not know where exactly. Thomas and Rebecca, both from England, married in 1891 in New Zealand and were living at Riverton in 1893. Thomas Perry had been the manager of Islay Station (Mataura district) for two years before 1886-87, and afterwards went into hotel-keeping. As of 1892 Mr Perry was in Western Southland, where he held hotel licences, owned land, engaged in horse racing. Selling his Carriers Arms stables and carrying business and the Carriers Arms Hotel at Riverton in 1894, he purchased the Drummond Hotel (Travellers Rest Hotel). The following year Mr T. W. Perry, “the well known publican at Drummond”, carried out extensive improvements to his hotel. “The hotel itself is a picture of cleanliness, and travellers will find there all the comforts of a home. He has also erected a commodious stable, and has in fact, thoroughly overhauled the building,” reported the Western Star on 27 February 1895. The genial landlord of the Travellers Rest Hotel, Drummond, who held an accommodation licence, moved to the Winton Hotel in late 1898. Mr Perry’s many good qualities were noted when he entertained his friends and well-wishers before moving. In September 1901 disaster struck, when a big fire occurred at Winton and the Winton Hotel, occupied by T. W. Perry, and many adjoining buildings were burnt to the ground. He was, however, still a hotel keeper at Winton in 1903 and racing horses throughout much of Southland. He sold the hotel to go into farming. It was in October 1906 that Mr Perry sold his farm at Oreti Plains and held a clearing sale which attracted some 800 people – “Mr Perry's stock, etc., which was the best that money could buy”. It is presumed, therefore, that young Willie Perry received his education at Drummond and Winton.
By 1907 the family was in Christchurch, where Mr T. W. Perry was a hotel keeper and trotted horses at Riccarton. Mr Perry was granted a conditional licence by the Waitaki Licensing Committee in December 1915 for the Boxing Day Sports at Waimate. Mr Perry had bought the Criterion Hotel and applied to lease the Waimate Borough sections where it was located. “One son accompanies Mr and Mrs Perry to Waimate.” [Waimate Daily Advertiser, 11 November 1915]. Residing there until at least 1919, he again became a hotel keeper. His licence for the Criterion Hotel was renewed in 1917, and in the same year he was elected a steward for the Waimate Racing Club. In 1916 he had been fined for “fined for motoring at excessive speed” in Stafford Street [Timaru]. Mr and Mrs Perry resided at Waimate until September 1919, when the licence for the Criterion Hotel was transferred.
Young Robert William Perry was one of the Territorials who appeared in the Oamaru Magistrate’s Court on 9 December 1912 for failing to render personal service. He was fined £1. He was also fined, in February 1915 at Christchurch, for driving a motor-car with a wrong identification mark upon it; and in May 1917 at Timaru, he was charged with driving cars at excessive speeds, and fined 20 shillings. In April 1917, 368 names were drawn in the sixth ballot to fill vacancies in the 30th Reinforcements. Among the South Canterbury names was that of Robert William Perry, motor mechanic, Waimate. He had already been listed on the Reserve Roll for South Canterbury in 1916. It was with the South Canterbury quota of the 33rd Reinforcements that he left Timaru in August after a farewell at the Drill Shed at 12.30pm.
Robert William Perry had enlisted on 7 May 1917 at Waimate. He was then 23 years old, single, of Church of England affiliation, his address being Criterion Hotel, Waimate. He stood at 5 feet 5½ inches, weighed 160pounds, and had a chest measurement of 36-39 inches. Of fair complexion, he had brown eyes and fair hair. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all normal, as were his heart and lungs, his limbs and chest well formed. He was free of diseases, slight defects and fits. Being in good bodily and mental health, he was classified Fit A, although he had suffered sunstroke five years earlier.He declared that two people were dependent on him – no doubt his parents by then both aged in their sixties. He nominated his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs R. J. Perry, Waimate, South Canterbury. He belonged to the 2nd South Canterbury Regiment and had registered for compulsory military training at Christchurch.
Soon after reaching camp he was transferred as Driver to the 30th Reinforcements, and in January 1918 to the Army Service Corps Reinforcements. He was granted nine days leave without pay in July 1918. Willie had suffered sun stroke five years ago and was laid up for a fortnight under medical care. He was now (18 September 1918) complaining of headaches when the weather was hot, and dizziness, and stated he collapses but had not done so in camp. He had suffered no consequent disability and was considered fit for territorial Service and Home Service. He was admitted to Featherston Hospital on 21 October 1918, suffering from severe influenza and pneumonia.
58286 Driver Robert William Perry, of the New Zealand Army Service Corps, died at the Featherston Military Camp Hospital, of influenza, at 4.30a.m. on 8 November 1918. “Willie” was the beloved son of T. W. and R. Perry, Waimate, late of Riccarton, aged just 25 years. Southland papers were asked to copy the death notice published in the Sun of 11 November. He was accorded a Military Funeral in Christchurch and buried in the St Peter’s Anglican Churchyard at Riccarton. His name is recorded on the Featherston Cemetery Memorial and is an addition to the Timaru Memorial Wall.
Thomas William Perry, Queen Street, Waimate, declared in June 1991 in respect to a claim for pay due to a deceased soldier, that he was the father and next-of-kin of 58286 R. W. Perry, that the deceased was unmarried, that he believed there was no Will in existence and that he did not intend to take out Letters of Administration. Mr Thomas Perry died in 1922, aged 72 years, and Mrs Rebecca Perry in 1931 at Christchurch, aged 79 years, both buried with their only son. Rebecca’s will was a reminder of the loss this couple had suffered. She left her beautiful rings to daughters of friends; her house, furniture and household effects in Christchurch to a nephew; made bequests to her nephew and a niece, to friends and friends’ children. She made provision for her own funeral expenses and directed a payment be made to the Anglican Church of Upper Riccarton for the care in perpetuity of the grave of her late husband.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [08 October 2013]; N Z Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5550 0092192) [22 April 2014]; CWGC [09 October 2013]; St Peter’s Churchyard, Riccarton, Christchurch, headstone transcription (NZSG South Canterbury Branch cemetery microfiche) [25 October 2013]; Western Star, 19 May 1894, 4 July 1894, 27 February 1895, 24 September 1901, Southern Cross, 3 December 1898, Southland Times, 27 October 1906, North Otago Times, 10 December 1912, Press, 6 February 1915, 12 November 1918, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 11 November 1915, 14 December 1915, 17 April 1917, Timaru Herald, 18 April 1917, 1 June 1917, 18 August 1917, New Zealand Herald, 9 November 1918, Evening Post, 9 November 1918, Otago Daily Times, 9 November 1918, Sun, 9 & 11 November 1918, Dominion, 9 November 1918, New Zealand Times, 9 November 1918, Lyttelton Times, 12 November 1918 (Papers Past) [16 October 2013; 16 & 18 August 2014; 12 April 2015; 12 October 2015; 02 & 03 April 2020]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au)
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Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
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