RAE, Alfred William
(Service number 20418)

Aliases Alf
First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 20 May 1891 Place of Birth Geraldine

Enlistment Information

Date 1 May 1916 Age 24 years 11 months
Address at Enlistment Eltham
Occupation Farmer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin G. RAE (father), Maku, Hawera
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 6 inches. Weight 11 stone. Chest measurement 33-36 inches. Complexion medium. Eyes grey. Hair brown. sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing & colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. No vaccination mark. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. No distinctive marks or marks indicating congenital peculiarities or previous diseases. 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 16th Reinforcements Wellington Infantry Battalion, B Company
Date 21 August 1916
Transport Mokoia
Embarked From Wellington Destination Plymouth, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Wellington Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion

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 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

27 May 1917 - admitted to the 7th General Hospital, to No. 1 NZ Field Ambulance; 27 May to 15th Canadian Clearing Station; 2 June transferred to Base Depot, France. Multiple wounds to legs & arms.

Post-war Occupations


Date 1 August 1917 Age 26 years
Place of Death 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station, Belgium
Cause Died of wounds
Memorial or Cemetery Trois Arbres Cemetery, Steenwerck, Nord, France; Hawera Cemetery (memorial on parents' headstone)
Memorial Reference I. V. 23 Presbyterian Block XLI, Plots 1 & 2
New Zealand Memorials Mangatoka School Roll of Honour

Biographical Notes

Alfred William Rae (Alf) was born on 20 May 1891 at Geraldine, the third son of George and Mary (née Stevens) Rae. He was baptized in the Geraldine Presbyterian Parish on 11 September 1891. In the mid 1890s the family moved to Tariki. Alfred was educated at Waipuku Stratford, Eltham and Mangatoki schools, before going to work as a labourer at Stratford in his all too short life. It was at Mangatoki that he was recorded as passing Standard I in 1901 and Standard II in 1902.

When he registered for enlistment in March 1916, with the 16th Reinforcements, he was farming at Eltham. His brother Frank registered a week later. He and Frank had both been called up, and they left for camp together at the end of April. Before long Private Rae (Alf) and Lance-Corporal Rae (Frank), among others, were guests at a send-off arranged by the Patriotic Committee at Mangatoki – a large, enthusiastic gathering, with music, dancing and speeches. Private Henry Thrush, who was unable to attend this function, was the husband of Alf’s sister Maud. Hearty cheers greeted those about to leave for abroad as they mounted the platform. In his short speech the Chairman dwelt upon the great opportunities the soldiers would have for travel and “of emulating the deeds of the Anzacs”. Sadly such opportunities would not eventuate for all. Presentation articles were handed to the Rae brothers and their comrades. At another good-bye function at Mangatoki, in August 1916, mention was again made of Alf and Frank. On this occasion it was suggested that a suitable honours board be obtained, and the names of all recruits be engraved on it and the board placed in a prominent position.

Alf Rae had enlisted on 1 May 1916, aged 24 years 11 months. He was single and Presbyterian, and he named as his next-of-kin his father who was at that time living at Maku, Hawera. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighed 11 stone, and had a chest measurement of 33-36 inches. His faculties were all good, his heart and lungs normal, his limbs well formed. Free of diseases, vaccinated, and in good physical and mental health, he was fit for service. Private Alfred William Rae embarked with the Wellington Infantry Regiment on 21 August 1916 per the ‘”Mokoia”, destined for Plymouth, England. He actually disembarked at Devonport and on 24 October marched into Sling. Just three weeks later he headed to France. Both Alf and Frank were among the recipients of a Christmas gift box from the ladies’ branch of the Mangatoki Patriotic Committee – 4 lbs cake (made by the Eltham bakers), 1 lb cornflour, 1 writing companion, 1 packet soup powder, lollies, chocolates, tin cigarettes, pair socks, handkerchief, pair bootlaces.

On 27 May 1917 he was admitted, sick, to the 7th General Hospital, then to the No. 1 NZ Field Ambulance; 27 May to the 15th Canadian Clearing Station. On 2 June he was transferred to Base Depot, France, and later in the month rejoined his battalion. Finally on 31 July 1917, in action in the field, he received multiple wounds to his legs and arms. He was first admitted to the No.3 New Zealand Field Ambulance before being transferred to the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station.

Less than a year after embarkation, on 1 August 1917 at the 2nd Australia Casualty Clearing Station in Belgium, Private Alfred William Rae died of his wounds. Casualty List No. 645 carried the news to the New Zealand public. He was buried in the Trois Arbres Cemetery at Steenwerck in the north of France. The Mangatoki correspondent of the Hawera & Normanby Star recorded that another local lad had “made the last effort for his country”. Sympathy was conveyed to his sorrowing parents and brothers and sisters.

His eldest brother, Robert Ernest Rae (Ernest), died of disease in 1918, and two cousins, Donald Alfred Rae and William John Rae, also died in World War One, Donald of wounds and John killed in action. Another brother, Francis Edward Rae (Frank), who was born at Tariki, was called up and saw service in World War One, being seriously wounded. Their brother Herbert George Rae, a farmer at Mangatoki, appealed his call up. He had been married for five years, had one child, and was managing his sister’s (Maud) farm as her husband had gone to the front. And two other cousins also served - Adam Rae and Bernard (Bernie) James Rae.

Alfred’s medals – British War Medal and Victory Medal – were sent to his mother, while the plaque and scroll went to his father, who had moved to Tataraimaka. His father declared that he was the executor named in the will of 20418 Alfred Wm Rae, dated 16th Oct 1916, but that he did not intend to apply for probate. Alfred and Ernest are remembered on their parents' headstone in the Hawera Cemetery. The names A. W. Rae and R. E. Rae are recorded on the Managtoki School Roll of Honour under the years of their embarkation. This board was unveiled by Sir James Allen on 4 April 1919. Of the 67 ex-pupils named, seventeen lost their lives. A united service was held on 8 August 1920 in the Mangatoki Union Church, to mark the unveiling of a Memorial Tablet for the men who fell in the great war. Alfred’s father, mother, brothers and sisters remembered him in an In Memoriam notice in 1918 -

One year has passed since that sad day

When one we loved was called away.

We little thought when we parted last

He would return no more. But now he lies in his soldier's grave

And we are left to mourn.

E. and R. Pierce of Stratford also remembered –

I cannot say, and I will not say,

That he is dead. He is just away.

With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand

He has wandered into an unknown land,

. . . . . . . ..

Mild and gentle as he was brave

When the sweetest love of his life he gave

To simple things . . . . . .

Think of him still as the same, I say;

He is not dead—he is just away.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [01 January 2015]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5550 0095570) [30 September 2016]; CWGC [03 January 2015]; Hawera & Normanby Star, 24 October 1901, 29 October 1902, 24 March 1916, 18 April 1916, 2 May 1916, 22 July 1916, 22 August 1916, 16 November 1916, 15, 16 & 20 [x 2] August 1917, 21 May 1918, 5 July 19182 August 1920, North Otago Times, 15 August 1917, Otago Daily Times, 15 August 1917, Timaru Herald, 15 August 1917, Taranaki Daily News, 12 July 1912, 1 August 1918 (Papers Past) [03 January 2015; 29 September 2016; 29 April 2019]; Hawera Cemetery headstone transcription (, ex NZSG Cemetery Records) [03 January 2015]; School Admission records (New Plymouth Branch NZSG) [03 January 2015]; NZ Electoral Rolls (South Canterbury Branch NZSG microfiches collection) [some years ago]; image of Mangatoki School Roll of Honour ( [29 September 2016]; Hawera Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [03 January 2015]; Personal family information (T.S.) [some years ago]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to


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