RATTRAY, Alexander McHardy
(Service number 13396 & 5965(SA))
|First Rank||Lance Corporal||Last Rank||Corporal|
|Date||20 April 1880||Place of Birth||Waimate|
|Date||15 December 1915||Age|
|Address at Enlistment||Sefton St, Timaru|
|Previous Military Experience||3 1/2 years Studholme Mounted Rifles; 8th New Zealand Contingent to South Africa, 1901-1902|
|Next of Kin||Mrs I. Rattray (mother), Sefton Street, Timaru|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 7 inchesd, chest 36-39 inches, dark complexion, brown hair and eyes|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||13th Reinforcements, J Company|
|Date||27 May 1916|
|Transport||HMNZT 55 Tofua|
|Embarked From||Wellington, New Zealand||Destination|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||2nd Battalion Wellington Infantry Regiment|
|Campaigns||Queens South African War Medal with Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, and South Africa 1902 clasps; Western European 1917|
|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|
|Date||13 June 1918||Reason||No longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service (Hysteria)|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
Alexander had several admissions to hospital for short periods but, inn Septemebr 1917, it was reported Alexander fainted on a route-march, after "his nerves had been going for some time". Medical reports from January and February 1918 reported that due to the stress of active service Alexander had developed a "History [of] hysterical fits at base hospital. Improved by isolation and [reeducation?]". He was "nervous, anemic ... sleeps badly ... has no confidence in himself ...[and] unfit for further service." It was recommended he be discharged and sent home to New Zealand.
|Date||25 April 1963||Age||82|
|Place of Death||Cornwall Hospital|
|Memorial or Cemetery|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Rattray was an experienced soldier when World War I began after he had served in the 8th NZ Contingent in the South African War in 1902. He had also spent three and a half years in the Studholme Mounted Rifles. Prior to enlisting he was living in Sefton Street, Timaru, and working as a farmer. At 35 years he was a relatively old recruit when he volunteered in December 1915. After training in New Zealand for five months Rattray boarded a troopship headed for the Western Front.
Although Rattray came from South Canterbury he was posted to the Wellington Regiment which often happened in order to fill gaps in units. He joined the Regiment just before the heavy fighting during the battle of the Somme. Rattray must have impressed as a soldier because following the Somme he was promoted to Lance Corporal and then in January 1917 he was promoted to Corporal. However, he did a have a bad run of illness which saw him admitted into hospital several times. Then towards the end of the year he showed signs of shell shock.
Rattray was admitted to hospital with shell shock (or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as it is now known) in September 1917. The terrible stresses of the Western Front had caused him to suffer a number of psychological conditions, such as difficulty walking, a tremor and depression. Rattray went through a number of hospitals until finally arriving at the 1st New Zealand General Hospital in January 1918. He was declared unfit for further service, returned to New Zealand in May 1918 and was sent to recover at a hospital in Auckland.
No documents available.
Researched and Written by
Tony Rippin (South Canterbury Museum)
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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