OSBORNE, William Henry
(Service number 6/522)

Aliases Known as Willie, Billy, Bill
First Rank Sergeant Last Rank Lieutenant


Date 21 January 1891 Place of Birth St Columb, Cornwall, England

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment 22 Rhodes Street, Timaru
Occupation Storeman
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Harry John T. OSBORNE, 22 Rhodes Street, Timaru
Religion Protestant
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Main Body
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Infantry Battalion
Date 16 October 1914
Transport Tahiti or Athenic
Embarked From Wellington Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Regiment

Military Awards

Service Medals
Military Awards Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire M.B.E.) (Military)

Award Circumstances and Date

London Gazette, 03 June 1919

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

Post-war Occupations



Date 15 August 1956 Age 65 years
Place of Death
Memorial or Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Memorial Reference Services Section, Row 111, Plot 8
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

William Henry Osborne, known as Willie, Billy or Bill, was the second of the three sons of Thomas Henry and Mary Jane (née Teague) Osborne, of Cornwall, England. Willie was at home with his family at St Columb, Cornwall in 1891 (10 weeks old) and 1901. In 1911 he was a labourer at the china clay works at Fraddon, St Columb, boarding with a family. The Osborne family migrated to Timaru, New Zealand between 1911 and 1914. In 1916 May Jane died at Timaru. Band-Sergeant Osborne, of the Territorials, was one of many keen and determined applicants at the Drill Shed on 11 August 1914. He was not one of those rejected, mostly for defects to the teeth and one or two on account of height; he passed the medical exanimation and was sworn in. The successful applicants were liable to be called up at any moment, and it was quite probable that they would leave Timaru in a matter of days for the central camp at Christchurch as part of the 2nd South Canterbury Regiment's quota. The 2nd South Canterbury Regimental Band met to farewell Band Sergeant W. H. Osborne. He was presented with a suitably inscribed gold medal, a pair of field glasses and a cornet by his fellow bandsmen. Captain A. F. Boys, in a letter to his wife in Timaru from Lemnos on 11 October wrote: “I had a yarn to Sergeant-Major Osborne of the Camp Band, and late of the Timaru Garrison Band. He played, some lovely cornet solos for me for old times' sake.” And on 13 October, he mentioned that he had gone to the main camp that morning and met, with others, Billy Osborne. Bill Osborne was conductor of the Timaru Brass Band for many years.

Two brothers – Harry John Teague Osborne and Thomas Edwin Osborne – also served in World War I. All three were noted bandsmen in Timaru. Bill Osborne married Florence Ethel Sheppard in 1919 after his return to New Zealand. The Methodist Church of Timaru placed a handsome window in the Bank Street Church as a memorial for the war victims of the congregations. Apart from the names of the fallen appearing on the window, the names of all who served were inscribed in a book which was to be preserved in the Church. Included in the names were those of Harry John Teague Osborne, Thomas Edwin Osborne and William Henry Osborne. Bill’s sister Lottie married William Joseph Roseveare in 1909 in Cornwall. Lottie and William migrated to Timaru, where William enlisted in 1918.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [12 December 2016]; Timaru Cemetery headstone image (Timaru District Council) [12 December 2016]; 1891, 1901, 1911 census returns England ( [24 March 2020]; Timaru Herald, 12 & 15 August 1914, 5 July 1922 (Papers Past) [01 September 2014; March 2020]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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