TANGNEY, Maurice
(Service number 55193)

First Rank Private Last Rank


Date 16 January 1895 Place of Birth Tralee, Kerry, Ireland

Enlistment Information

Date 6 July 1917 Age 22 years 1 month
Address at Enlistment Woodbury, Geraldine
Occupation Teamster
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 9 inches. Weight 11 stone. Chest measurement 35½-37 inches. Complexion fresh. Eyes blue. Hair light 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. Vaccinated (right). Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. No distinctive marks or marks indicating congenital peculiarities or previous disease. Fit. Class A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation
Unit, Squadron, or Ship
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Service Medals
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 1 July 1919 Reason Demobilisation.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Farmer; financier; gardener, tree doctor, pruner


Date 4 September 1977 Age 82 years
Place of Death
Memorial or Cemetery Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland
Memorial Reference Catholic Lawn C, Row 6, Plot 40
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Maurice Tangney was born on 16 January 1895 at Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, the eldest son of Michael and Margaret (née Talbot) Tangney. In 1901 and also in 1911 he is a scholar living at home with his family (including his maternal grandfather in 1911) at Ballinorig, County Kerry, Ireland, where his parents were farmers.

Quite early on in this country, Tangney accused D. Kelly of using threatening behaviour towards him (using a knife and shooting at him with a gun) and asked that he be bound over to keep the peace. Tangney was, however, simply the target of some practical jokes at a thresher camp, although Kelly had to pay costs.

He had been in New Zealand for just three years when he enlisted in February 1917, after being drawn in the Third Ballot under the Military service Act for the South Canterbury district. Nineteen year-old Michael appears to have come to New Zealand on the "Ruahine" in March 1914. He was a teamster at Ealing when he was called up for military service and had moved to Woodbury at the time of enlisting. He was a fit, healthy young man.

When the Canterbury No. 2, Military Service Appeal Board sat at Ashburton in April 1917, “Maurice Tangney, teamster and shearer, Woodbury, appealed on the ground of financial losses, and that he was an Irishman and a Home Ruler, and was not prepared to take up arms for war purposes. He was of the opinion that some of the employers he had worked for in New Zealand were worse than Germans, seeing the amount of work they required for such small wages. His parents had told him that Germans had no hatred for Irishmen, and that was the reason the Imperial Government had not forced conscription in Ireland. In fact, the Government dared not force an Irishman to go to the front.”

Maurice said further that he was contracting at tream work and that he had been ploughing since April, 1916, and had made an application a year ago to join the Police Force. “That was most inconsistent for a person holding such views” remarked Captain Spratt, the military representative. The appeal was dismissed.

Private Tangney was one of the men for the 29th Reinforcements who were required to go into camp at very short notice. This resulted in the abandonment of the usual entertainment and instead a luncheon being provided for the Temuka and Geraldine “boys”. And a first-class luncheon it was. After several addresses, badges were pinned to the coats of the young soldiers, the National Anthem was sung, and accompanied by a large crowd the soldiers marched to the station. They were “some of the finest boys they had yet sent. . . . going away to uphold the honour of their towns and country” Mr Gunnion said. And Major Kennedy “gave them a few kindly words of counsel regarding ‘discipline’.”

In the event Maurice Tangney, Regimental Number 55193, did not leave this country. In February 1918, following transfer from Trentham Camp, where he was employed in the Army Pay Department, to Awapuni, he incurred a punishment of 96 hours detention for deliberate awkwardness in ranks. He was granted leave without pay in April 1919 and demoblised on 1 July 1919. By this time he was a farmer living in Wellington. Throughout 1920 and 1921 he was advertising offers of financial loans and rooms to let in return for loans. He had obviously enjoyed some hospitality in Wellington while in camp, as evidenced by a court appearance for a peculiar case which was dismissed for want of any facts.

Thereafter his behaviour was such as to put him on the wrong side of the law, resulting in imprisonment with hard labour. “A menace to society”, he faced several charges for assault on and unwelcome attention to women. All too soon after doing his six months, he was back in the court on charges of false pretences and fraud, one of the detectives saying “I give you credit for being the shrewdest man I have ever dealt with.” This case went to trial in the Supreme Court, the prisoner Tangney conducting his own defence. “I appeal against the conviction,” said the prisoner as the verdict of guilty was pronounced. He wanted the opportunity to leave New Zealand as he could not see any future for himself here. Troubles continued to accompany Tangney, now as well known on the streets of Auckland as previously in Wellington – trespass, assault, unlicensed (and dubious) hawking, theft, and more.

One can only assume that the garrulous Maurice Tangney in time amended his ways. He died on 4 September 1977 in Auckland, at the grand age of 82 years. He appears to have made provision for his headstone in the Waikumete Cemetery – “Please pray for the repose of the soul . . . “ Rest in peace Maurice.


NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK18805 W5553 0111874) [06 January 2017]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [03 January 2017]; Waikumete Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [03 January 2017]; 1901 & 1911 census returns transcriptions ( per [03 January 2017]; Shipping record ( [03 January 2017]; Timaru Herald, 5 March 1915, 13 January 1917, Ashburton Guardian, 24 April 1917, Temuka Leader, 3 May 1917, Dominion, 28 July 1920, Evening Post, 31 March 1922, 25 & 26 October 1922, 8 & 10 November 1922, Auckland Star, 9 January 1925, 23 April 1928, 14 August 1934, 7 March 1936 (Papers Past) [03 & 08 January 2017]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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