(Service number 27278)

First Rank Private Last Rank Corporal


Date 31 July 1889 Place of Birth Geraldine

Enlistment Information

Date 61/05/1916 Age 26
Address at Enlistment Geraldine
Occupation Labourer, for H Rowe
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status
Next of Kin Mrs Eva GREENAWAY (mother), Geraldine
Religion Church of England
Medical Information 5ft 6 inches tall, fair complexion and hair, blue eyes, weighing 144 lbs 5 ounces.

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 17th Reinforcements, J Company
Date 25 September 1916
Transport Devon
Embarked From Destination Devonport, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European 1916-1917
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 21 July 1919 Reason On termination of his period of engagement

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

23 June 1917 - Sick - Admitted to No.3 NZ Field Ambulance; 27 June - Rejoined unit. 6 August 1917 - Wounded in action (gsw); Admitted to No.3 NZ Field Ambulance; 9 August Admitted to No.2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station (CCS); 11 August - Admitted to No.2 Canadian General Hospital; 12 August Embarked for England via Hospital Ship; 16 August - admitted to No.2 New Zealand General Hospital, Walton; 7 September - transferred to Hornchurch Convalescent Hospital. 9 October 1918 - Sick (Influenza) - Admitted to Military Hospital, Tidworth; 24 Ocotber - Transferred to Hornchurch Convalescent Hospital 15 January 1919 - sick (VD)

Post-war Occupations



Date 10 August 1967 Age 78 years
Place of Death Christchurch
Memorial or Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Memorial Reference Services Section, Row 127, Plot 14
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

James Greenaway was the son of William and Eva (née Newport) Greenaway, of Geraldine. His father died in 1897 when James was just nine years old, while his mother lived till 1952, dying at the age of 91 years.

At the time of his enlistment in May 1916, James was working as a labourer for H Rowe of the Crown Hotel. The Timaru Herald provided a rather full report of the concert and farewell to South Canterbury recruits for the Seventeenth Reinforcements on 1 June 1916. At the end of the report it notes the Geraldine Contingent was sent off in typical fashion: "On Tuesday night the Geraldine Volunteer Hall was packed with residents of the district to honour the men who were to leave for the training camp on the following morning. These were Messrs G. O'Leary, W. [Mutally?], W. Scully. C. Macdonald, F. J. Burke, R. Maister. J. Greenaway and A. Pierce." It went on to report that "Major Kennedy made a brief speech, saying that their object in meeting was to send 'Our Boys' away happy! and to chair them on their way to take up their duties as soldiers of the Empire and he asked all present and their friends to attend each similar function. Messages about discipline and service to the Empire followed, including a message, supported by cheers form the crowd, from the Mayor noting that "New Zealand was doing its share, and they [the local community] were all very proud of the men who had gone from New Zealand (cheers) and from the district (cheers). The recruits would probably go from France, where they would find a hearty welcome and hospitable people. They knew their men would do their duty for their country and their town ' (cheers) ..." The men were then "called up the men about to leave, and as they marched on to the platform they were cheered again and again." They were then each presented "...with a wristlet watch or other useful gift and said that if there was anything they wanted on the way out or at the front. they were only to let the ladies of the Home and Empire League know ...". The next morning they had another send-off, by a large number of people gathered at the Post Office to see them leave. As they left to meet the train at Temuka, in cars supplied by locals, "...cheers were called by the Mayor and heartily given ..."

James was posted to J Coy, 17th Reinforcements and proceeded to undertake his initial training in Trentham. After training, James left for the front in September 1916, arriving in Devon on 21 November. After arrival in England he immediately marched in Sling (a training camp). There he was posted to the 2nd Company, Canterbury Regiment in England and proceeded overseas to France in December. There, at Etaples, he was attached to the unit strength and his service began in earnest when he joined his unit in the field on 5 January 1917.

In June 1917 the New Zealander's - and James' unit - was involved in a major offensive at Messines. It resulted in a major victory, but a heavy price was paid. The attack aimed to capture a ridge to secure the British line before a large offensive to the North. The goal was not to break through the lines but to attack and hold territory. Over the previous two years prior to the attack the British had been digging tunnels under the German lines where they laid huge explosives to destroy the defences. Early on 7 June the explosives went off and shattered German frontline trenches. The Kiwis surged through the German defences and captured the fortified town of Messines after some hard fighting. That day the New Zealander's suffered 3700 casualties including 700 killed.

Later in the month James appears to have fallen sick, being admitted to No.3 NZ Field Ambulance on 23 June for four day before rejoining his unit.

On 6 August James was wounded in action, receiving a gun shot wound to the buttocks. He was admitted to No.3 NZ Field Ambulance that day. Three days later on 9 August he was admitted to No.2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) for two days before being transferred to No.2 Canadian General Hospital. The next day, 12 August, he embarked for England on a hospital ship. On 16 August he was admitted to No.2 New Zealand General Hospital at Walton-on-Thames, being cared for there until 7 September when he was transferred to Hornchurch Convalescent Hospital in Codford. While he was recovering from his wounds though, his compatriots were enduring the most disastrous event in New Zealand’s history the attack on Passchendaele (Third Ypres) on 12 October 1917.The thick bog and strong defence saw some 950 New Zealanders were dead or dying and over 2700 wounded. About 50 South Canterbury soldiers had been killed. Not a single objective was gained. Passchendaele devastated the New Zealand forces. From October 1917 to the end of the year at least 141 South Canterbury soldiers lost their lives there.

In February 1918 James was promoted to Lance Coproral. In May he was detailed to a rifle/gunnery course at Hayling Island for around a month. On his return toward the end of June 1918 he was appointed to the rank of Temporary Corporal, a rank that was confirmed in October the same year. During this time the New Zealanders, and James' unit, were crucial to the events that lead to the end of hostilities in 1918 leading up to and during the 100 Days campaign. Germany’s victory over Russia at the start of the year had allowed them to move all its forces to the Western Front and attack. In March Germany broke through the Allies lines and the New Zealand Division was amongst those rushed in to halt the advance. The New Zealanders plugged a dangerous gap in the line near Hèbuterne and then fought to stabilise the front. This was one of their most important contributions to winning the war. The German attacks ran out of momentum however, and it was around this stage James had his break away from the front for training. But, after his return the Allies took the offensive in August, launching the ‘Hundred Days’ offensive. The New Zealanders were at the forefront of the assault in places like Bapaume almost continually from 21 August until the end of the war. The fighting was largely free of trenches and the New Zealanders preferred the movement of open country warfare. New Zealand’s last major attack of the war was capturing the fortified French town Le Quesnoy. The town was surrounded and smoke bombs were fired into the town rather than artillery to avoid civilian casualties. Using a ladder New Zealanders stormed the walls and captured the city. The tactics used meant no civilian lives were lost. The armistice ending the war was declared on 11 November.

During the latter portion of this time the influenza epidemic (or Spanish Flu) was sweeping the world and caught James. On 9 October 1918 he was admitted to Military Hospital, Tidworth with it, but had recovered enough to be transferred to the Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch on 24 October. There it appears he was temporarily put on duty on the hospital; staff in mid November - the war had ended by this stage and it may have seemed pointless to send him back to his unit in France. He appears to have still been there prior to 14/15 January 1919 when he was reported sick with VD until discharged the next month. With the war over, the difficult job of returning thousands of men home began. Finally, on 17 May 1919 James finally embarked for home aboard the Maunganui from Liverpool. Following his return to New Zealand he was discharged on 21 July 1919. James served for a total of three years and 52 days, including two years and 272 days overseas. For his service he received the British War and Victory Medals.

James died in Christchurch on 10 August 1967.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [30 December 2016]; Timaru cemetery headstone image (Timaru District Council) [30 December 2016]; NZ BDM indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [30 December 2016 & 2 Septemebr 2021]; "The seventeeth : South Canterbury Quota" in the Timaru Herald 1 June 1916, "Town & Country" in the Timaru Herlad 2 June 1916 (notes 27 men from Temuka and Geraldine in the 17th Reinforcement quota), and "The Big March : Seventeenth Reiforcements" in the Timaru Herald 14 September 1916 (noting the final route march of training at Trentham).

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Researched and Written by

Tony Rippin, South Canterbruy Museum

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