Profile

SIZEMORE, Richard John
(Service number 2/1733)

Aliases
First Rank Gunner Last Rank Corporal

Birth

Date 7 July 1886 Place of Birth Hawksbury, Dunedin, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 17 April 1915 Age 28
Address at Enlistment Fairlie, South Canterbury, New Zealand
Occupation Motorman & blacksmith
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Miss Ethel Sarah Sizemore (sister), Ajax Street, Milton, New Zealand
Religion Church of England
Medical Information 5 foot 7 1/4 inches tall, weight 150 pounds (68kgs), chest 35 - 39 inches, fair complexion, hazel eyes, brown hair, teeth fair.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 5th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship New Zealand Field Artillery Ammunition Column
Date 13 June 1915
Transport HMNZT 24 Maunanui
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With No.6 Howitzer Battery Ammunition Column
Last Unit Served With No.6 Howitzer Battery Ammunition Column

Military Awards

Campaigns Egypt, Western European
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star, 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

Discharge

Date 21 October 1919 Reason No longer physically fit for war service

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

16-24 November 1916 - admitted to 2 NZ Field Ambulance - influenza; 25 February 1918 - admitted to2 NZ General Hospital - hernia; 2 April-16 May discharged to NZ Convalescent Hospital, Hornchurch.

Post-war Occupations

Blacksmith

Death

Date 22 April 1925 Age 38 years
Place of Death Putaruru, New Zealand
Cause Drowning - Pokaiwhenua Stream near Putaruru
Notices Otago Daily Times, 28 April 1925
Memorial or Cemetery Putaruru Lawn Cemetery
Memorial Reference Block 5, Plot 57
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Richard was born at Hawksbury, near Dunedin on July 7, 1887, the stepson of Jane Sizemore, a widow of Ajax Street in Milton, Otago. He was educated at the Flag Swamp School and later took up the trade of Blacksmith. Prior to the war he was a partner in a motor mechanic business at Fairlie with Stanley Alfred George Jones. This partnership was dissolved on March 31, 1915, prior to his enlisting on April 17, 1915. While living in Fairlie he was very involved in local boxing and athletics events, refereeing football, and was secretary/treasurer of the Fairlie Motor Cycle Club.

Upon enlistment Richard nominated his sister, Miss Ethel Sarah Sizemore of Ajax Street, Milton, as his next of kin and gave his occupation as a self-employed motorman and blacksmith of Fairlie. He was described as being aged 28 years, single, Anglican, 5 foot 7 ¼ inches tall, weighing 150 pounds (68 kgs), with a chest measuring 35-39 inches, having a fair complexion, hazel eyes, brown hair and fair teeth. Posted to the New Zealand Field Artillery, Gunner Sizemore received a short period of training at Trentham as part of the Howitzer Ammunition Column and was promoted to Corporal (Shoeing Smith) on May 17. On June 12, 1915, as part of the 5th Reinforcements, Corporal Sizemore left Trentham by train for Wellington, where they marched through the streets before boarding HMNZT 24 “Maunganui.” They left the next day in convoy with HMNZT 25 “Tahiti” and HMNZT 26 “Aparima”, a total of 2299 persons which included those staffing No.2 Stationary Hospital. On June 26 they reached Albany in Western Australia where they had a short days leave before heading out to sea again on June 29. From here they parted company with the other ships, arriving at Suez, Egypt on July 24, 1915. By this time the artillery units had already landed at Gallipoli. Small crews of farriers and other experienced horsemen, overseen by members of the NZ Veterinary Corps, were sent to Zeitoun Camp to look after the NZ horses.

By mid-January 1916, Cpl Sizemore was back at Moascar, posted to 3 Battery Ammunition Column and preparing for the move to France. On April 6, his unit plus horses, embarked from Alexandria for Marseilles, where they were immediately packed into troop trains and set off a long and slow journey northwards for Havre. Here they were to be fully equipped before moving off again to re-join the Division near Hazebrouck. The next stop was Armentieres, a quiet sector where the Division was to serve its apprenticeship. During battle, the Ammunition Column was employed drawing supplies for the guns from the dumps, a lot of the time bringing them up under cover of darkness or in wet and misty weather because of the exposed terrain. The horses were treated with much affection, a lot of them having been in the same hands since leaving New Zealand, and it was said the men cared for them much better than for themselves. At Armentieres on the morning of July 9, the 3rd Battery suffered three hours of intense bombardment with over 2000 rounds being dropped on their position. Three men were killed and seven wounded, but only one gun was put out of action. This 3rd Battery suffered a higher percentage of casualties than any other Divisional Artillery unit, a total of about eighty being killed or wounded. Finally in mid-August 1916, the batteries were moved out of the line in preparation for the Somme offensive.

In early November the guns were in the Fleurbaix positions under miserable conditions. Here on November 16–24, Richard was admitted to the 2nd NZ Field Ambulance suffering from influenza, re-joining his unit on November 25 after recovering. The cold winter of 1916-1917 was spent on the River Lys, near Armentieres. 1917 was to be a busy year for the artillery with the Battle of Messines in June, Basseville July, October the attack on Gravenstafel-Passchendaele (part of the 3rd Battle of Ypres) and December the attack on Polderhoek Chateau. The winter of 1917-1918 was to be spent in the Ypres.

On February 11, 1918, Richard was granted some well-earned leave in the UK. At the end of his leave he was admitted on February 25, to 2 NZ General Hospital at Walton-on-Thames with a hernia, before being discharge to the NZ Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch on April 2. From here he was given leave from May 16-31, 1918, before marching into the NZ Depot at Codford. Codford was a depot for NZ soldiers which provided rehabilitative training to men not yet fit enough to return to their units. It seems he remained here until moving out to Sling Camp July 13, 1919. Finally on July 28, 1919, he boarded SS “Hororata” at Plymouth for his return home, arriving at Wellington on September 20. After having served a total of 4 years and 188 days, Richard was discharged from the army on October 21 as no longer physically fit for war service. He was later awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal for this service.

On November 11, 1922, Richard married Miss Elsie Wilhelmina Jackson Vercoe Jeffares. Elsie was an accomplished musician who was born on November 15, 1899, at Raglan, daughter of Benjamin (1862-1939) and Isabel Rhoda (1870-1966 nee Vercoe) Jeffares of Pukekohe. In 1925 Richard was living at Ongaroto working as a blacksmith, but was suffering from poor health and acute depression as a result of the war. He and Elsie had one young child. After a visit to the doctor at Putaruru on April 21, 1925, he and Elsie stayed the night with her father. The next morning whilst travelling in a trap from Putaruru back to Ongaroto with his wife and father-in-law, he threw himself into the Pokaiwhenua stream near Putaruru and drowned.

Richard was buried in the Putaruru Lawn Cemetery. He was actually buried under the name of Richard John Sycamore. A funeral notice was inserted in the Otago Daily Times on April 28, 1925 “SIZEMORE.- On April 22, 1925, at Auckland (suddenly), Richard John, dearly beloved stepson of Jane Sizemore; in his thrity-eighth year”. The Otago Daily Times also reported on June 12, 1916, the sale of sections at Waikouaiti of deceased native owners, Richard John Sizemore being one of the persons named. After Richard’s death Elsie remarried on September 26, 1928, Harold Halstead Willoughby. She lived a long life, dying at Rongatai on August 18, 1993.

Sources

Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [June 2018]; Assorted records at Ancestry.com [June 2018] - INCLUDING ancestry.com.au record for Eliza Sizemore – mother of John Edwin Slodden (led an interesting life - possible connection with Richard John Sizemore?); New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at http://nzef.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=234709; South Waikato District Council cemetery database at http://www.southwaikato.govt.nz/our-services/do-it-online/cemetery-search/Pages/default.aspx?surname=sycamore - buried under name of John Sycamore?; Advertisement dissolving partnership in the Timaru Herald 31 March 1915 p1, "School football" and "Motorcycle Club" in the Timaru Herald 16 June 1914 p5, "Dominion War News ... Sixth Reinforcements" in the Timaru Herald 19 April 1915 p2, "Trentham Camp" in the Dominion 31 May 1915 p3, "Returning soldiers" in the Bruce Herald 28 August 1919 p5, "Pokaiwhenua fatality" in the Auckland Star 24 April 1925 p11, "Deaths" in the Otago Daily Times 28 April 1925 p6, "Suicide by drowning" in the New Zealand Herald 27 April 1925 p10, and "Native :and Court" in the Otago Daily Times 12 June 1926 p20, courtesy of Papers Past at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/

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Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

TH

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