WADDELL, Francis Joseph
(Service number 52668)
|First Rank||Rifleman||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||23 February 1889||Place of Birth||Oamaru|
|Date||3 February 1917||Age||27 years 11 months|
|Address at Enlistment||Kimbell, Fairlie|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Frank WADDELL (father), Kimbell, via Fairlie|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 3½ inches. Weight 127 lbs. Chest measurement 35-37 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes brown. Hair dark. Sight - right eye 6/9, left eye 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. No illnesses. Free from hrnia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated (left arm). Good bodily and mental health. Slight defects but not sufficient to cause rejection. No fits. Old injury. Alleged cardiac disease (none observed). Operation on nose 23 years ago. Scar on right shin.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Rifle Brigade|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Reinforcements G Company (part)|
|Date||12 June 1917|
|Transport||Maunganui or Tahiti|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Plymouth, England|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Otago Infantry Battalion|
|Service Medals||British War Medal; Victory Medal|
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||6 December 1917||Age||28 years|
|Place of Death||"Somewhere in France" - Belgium|
|Cause||Died of wounds (chest, abdomen)|
|Notices||Timaru Herald, 5 January 1918|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium|
|Memorial Reference||XXVI. BB. 9A|
|New Zealand Memorials||On Memorial wall, Timaru; Fairlie War Memorial; Waimataitai School War Memorial (J. WADDELL)|
Francis Joseph Waddell was the elder surviving son of Francis (Frank) and Amelia Emma (Emma, née Taylor) Waddell, of Kimbell, Fairlie. A brother James died in infancy in 1891 and a sister Julia died in 1902 at Timaru, aged five years. He was born on 23 February 1889 at Oamaru. At school he was known as Frank, but by war time he was known as Joe, perhaps to distinguish him from his father. He started his schooling at Oamaru North School, before transferring to Waimataitai School in Timaru at the age of nine. In April 1898 his father had sold “his pleasantly and healthily situated property, . . . . with comfortable 4-roomed house and scullery thereon” in Oamaru and moved to Timaru.
Francis was of rather small build - just 5 feet 3½ inches tall and weighing only 127 lbs - but was in good shape when he underwent the medical examination. He alleged previous cardiac disease but none was observed, and he had had an operation on his nose 23 years before. At the time he was a 28 year old single farm labourer for his father, the family living at Kimbell near Fairlie. F. J. appears to have spent all his working days in the Fairlie area, perhaps living with his sister and brother-in-law, Catherine and Johon Wilson.
Frank was one of a good number of South Canterbury men who left Timaru for the Front on 11 April 1917. During a brief visit home on leave, to “Londonderry”, Fairlie, “Joe” was farewelled at a very successful social gathering in the Silverstream schoolroom, when the large gathering to honour him was a demonstration of his popularity. He was presented with a case of pipes with good wishes for “the best of soldier’s luck”. He was heartily applauded for his speech of acknowledgment. But unfortunately luck did not accompany Joe.
Rifleman F. J. Waddell embarked for Plymouth on 12 June 1917, with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. He marched into Sling in August, marched out in October, and on 24 October at Rouen was posted to the Otago Regiment. Just under six months after leaving and just six weeks after reaching the battle front, on 6 December 1917, he died at the Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, in Belgium – “Somewhere in France” - of gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen, probably received near Ypres. He was buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, near Poperinge, Belgium, one of 10, 785 war causalties buried here.
Private F. Waddell was one of four Fairlie boys who, having died in action, were remembered in sympathy by the Mackenzie County Council at their January 1918 meeting. Condolences were extended to their parents and relatives, with the observation that they were all fine young men.
His brother, Harold George Waddell, was called up in July 1918 but, when he explained that he was the sole surviving son, his only brother having died on active service, his case was adjourned sine die. In July 1919 his father Frank wrote to the Timaru Herald that he thought the most sincere monument to commemorate the signing of the peace agreement, a monument which would “fully embrace the awful waste of life which has been felt in every household of the world”, would be a free maternity home. “We men are prone to belittle the sacrifices made by the mother and give to the father all the credit. It is time to change these ideas and and to place women first in all the plans and schemes for physically, morally and untellectually advancing the race of mankind.”
Francis Joseph Waddell’s medals – British War Medal and Victory Medal – were sent to his father at Kimbell. He is remembered on the Timaru War Memorial Wall (as WADDELL F. J.) and the Fairlie War Memorial (as F. J. Waddell) and on the Waimataitai School Memorial (as WADDELL J.). It appears that at Fairlie his name was originally omitted from the War Memorial. In 1960 an inquiry was made on behalf of the Mackenzie area to the Base Records to identify this man, said to be J. Waddell, and after some further research he was found to be Francis Joseph Waddell, known as Joe. After initial discussion there was a proposal to erect a fence and gates in front of Waimataitai School, with panels naming old pupils of the school who had fallen in the war. A few months later it was decided to include a war memorial in a new honours board in the school.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [03 August 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK18805 W5553 0117569) [09 August 2013]; CWGC [9 August 2013]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [09 August 2013]; North Otago Times, 28 April 1898, 17 December 1917, Timaru Herald, 4 June 1902, 10 & 19 April 1917, 11 & 25 June 1917, 17 December 1917, 5 & 12 January 1918, 6 July 1918, 9 July 1919, 22 October 1919, 1 & 5 November 1919, 14 February 1920 (Papers Past) [23 October 2013; 23 June 2014; 16 September 2014; 30 November 2015; 07 & 08 April 2017]; School Admission Records (Oamaru Branch NZSG, South Canterbury Branch NZSG) ; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [07 April 2017]
- Timaru Herald 9 July 1919 - 'War Memorial' letter by Frank WADDELL (pdf, 14.6 KB updated 04-Sep-2017)
- Great War Stories - Francis Joseph WADDELL - Timaru Herald 10 June 2017 (pdf, 265.6 KB updated 15-Sep-2017)
- Francis WADDELL biography by Doreen Knight (pdf, 194.5 KB updated 01-Mar-2019)
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC brnach NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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