(Service number 16585)

First Rank Private Last Rank Lance Corporal


Date 11 July 1889 Place of Birth Waiuku, Auckland, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 8 March 1916 Age 26
Address at Enlistment Bridge Street, Mataura, Southland, New Zealand
Occupation Saddler
Previous Military Experience Studholme Mounted Rifles
Marital Status Married
Next of Kin Mrs William Robertson (wife), care of A. Balneaves, Mataura, New Zealand
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information 5 foot 5 inches tall, weight 148 lbs, chest 31 1/2 - 34 inches, dark complexion, brown eyes, dark hair, teeth good, slight scar on left forehead

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 15th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 15th Reinforcements, Specialist Infantry Signal Section, Otago Infantry Regiment
Date 26 July 1916
Transport HMNZT 60 Ulimaroa
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Plymouth, England
Other Units Served With 1st Otago, 3rd Reserve Battalion; 14th Company 2nd Battalion; 2nd Battalion Otago Regiment; 2nd Brigade Headquarters Carrying Party; 3rd Reserve Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment
Last Unit Served With 3rd Reserve Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Western Europe (France)
Service Medals British War Medal, Victory Medal
Military Awards Military Medal (MM)

Award Circumstances and Date

NZEF Orders, London 15 November 1918 - For gallantry in the field of action

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 21 May 1919 Reason Completion of engagement

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

16 April 1917 - sprained ankle - admitted 1 NZ Field Ambulance - transferred to 2 NZ Field Ambulance - discharged 28 April 1917; 4 December 1917 - wounded in action (remained with unit) but short admission to 3 NZ Field Ambulance for day.

Post-war Occupations



Date 15 September 1952 Age 63 years
Place of Death Waimate, New Zealand
Memorial or Cemetery Waimate Cemetery
Memorial Reference Plot 0016PB001297
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

William, third son of John Scott (1863-1903) and Elizabeth Alfred (nee Furniss 1864-1946) Robertson, was born at Waiuku, Auckland, on 11 July 1889 (not 1890, as on his enlistment papers). His mother remarried in 1905, to Hugh Hamilton. As a child, his family was living at Kurow, where it is thought he received his education.

Prior to his enlistment William was living at Bridge Street, Mataura, where he was running his own saddler business. On 1 March 1916, he married at Mataura, Miss Annie Balneaves (1896-1987), the ceremony being conducted by the Reverend W.W. Brown. Seven days later, on 8 March, he enlisted into the Otago Infantry Regiment, and was posted into the Infantry Specialist Signal Section (he is listed in some places as being in the Specialist Machine Gun Section but his personnel file lists him as being in the Signals Section). He was described as being married, 5 foot 5 inches in height, weighing 148 pounds, aged 25, chest measuring 31 ½ - 34 inches, Presbyterian, of dark complexion, brown eyes, dark hair, teeth good, and having a slight scar on his left forehead. He also stated he had had previous military experience with the Studholme Mounted Rifles, and nominated as his next of kin, his wife, Mrs William Robertson, care of A. Balneaves, Mataura.

On 29 July 1916 William left Wellington on board HMNZT 60 (SS Ulimaroa) with the 15th Reinforcements, bound for Plymouth, England, arriving on 28 September 1916. Further training followed at Sling Camp where he was posted to the 1st Otago, 3rd Reserve Battalion, before leaving for France on 8 December 1916. On arrival in France, he was reposted to the 14th Company, 2nd Battalion Otago Regiment. At this time the Regiment was fighting in the Messines area. On 16 April 1917, he had an accident when he sprained his ankle, and was admitted to 1 NZ Field Ambulance, transferred to 2 NZ Field Ambulance on 19 April, and returned to his unit on 28 April. On 4 June he was detached to 2nd Brigade Headquarters carrying party, and was back with his unit on 19 June. From 30 September to 25 October, he was attached to the NZ Reinforcements Camp before re-joining his unit. On 4 December 1917, the Regiment was in the Ypres Salient, fighting near the Polderhoek Chateau. Among the heavy casualties, Pte Robertson was reported as being wounded, but remained with his unit after a short visit to 3 NZ Field Ambulance. It was probably during this action that he was awarded the Military Medal. The NZEF orders dated 15 November 1918 stated that 16585 Private William Robertson, had been awarded the Military Medal for an act of Gallantry in the Field. The medal was presented to him later though, on 20 May 1920, by HRH Edward Albert, Prince of Wales, at a ceremony at the Invercargill Showground’s.

After being awarded the Military Medal in 1918, William had a short spell of leave in England from 3 to 20 January 1918. From 2 August 1918, he was detached to the School of Instruction, until re-joining his Battalion on 16 September, and being promoted to Lance Corporal on 28 October. On 22 December 1918, he marched in to Sling Camp, ex-France, and was posted to the 3rd Reserve Battalion, Canterbury Regiment. Lance Corporal Robertson left for New Zealand from Tilbury, England, on 12 March 1919, aboard the SS Corinthic, arriving in Lyttelton on 22 April 1919. After having served a total of 3 years and 75 days, he was discharged from the army on 21 May 1919. For this service, William was later presented with the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

1919 saw William back in Mataura, living in Bridge Street, and back in his trade as a saddler. William and Annie had six children (Margaret, Ruth, Bill, Elspeth, Andrew, Margaret, and Alister) and remained living in Mataura for some time. They moved back to waimate around 1941, working for the CFCA there for a time. Between 1946 and 1949 they moved to Waihao Downs, where he managing the local CFCA branch. In the early 1950s he shifted back to 7 Coronation Street, Waimate.

William died in Waimate on 15 September 1952, aged 63 years, and is buried in the Presbyterian Section, Waimate Cemetery. Annie remained in their Waimate house and died there on 7 December 1987, and is buried in the Waimate Cemetery next to her husband William.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database (28 October 2015); Correspondence loaned to the South Canterbury Museum (L2013/010); University of New South Wales, Canberra NZEF Project "New Zealand Anzacs in the Great War 1914-1918" at; Assorted records from (accessed July 2016); Otago Regiment - NZEF Honours and awars 1914-1918 on Rootsweb at; Birth, Death and Marriage Historical Records at; Waimate Cemetery records at (accessed July 2016); Official history of the Otago Regiment N.Z.E.F. in the Great War 1914-1918 at (accessed August 2016); Southland Times 21 May 1920 p5, Mataura Ensign 31 December 1917 p5, Evening Post 7 January 1919 p6 and 21 December 1917 p4 courtesy of Papers Past at; SCRoll web submission by A Gillies, 18 November 2018

External Links

Related Documents

Researched and Written by

Tony Rippin, South Canterbury Museum; Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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