Profile

SKINNER, Charles Henry
(Service number 3/154A)

Aliases
First Rank Private Last Rank Warrant Officer (WO1) - Staff Sargeant Major (SSM)

Birth

Date 17 April 1876 Place of Birth Christchurch, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 15 August 1914 Age 38
Address at Enlistment 13 Goldsmith Street, Christchurch, New Zealand
Occupation Clerk
Previous Military Experience 1903-1914 Territorial, 3 Field Ambulance
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs J. Haworth (sister), Bellfield Hill, Waimataitai, Timaru, New Zealand
Religion Church of England
Medical Information 5 foot 6 1/2 inches tall, weight 154 pounds (70kgs), chest 34-37 inches, dark complexion, blue eyes, dark hair and teeth only fair.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Main Body 16 Oct 14 & 18th Reinforcements 16 Oct 16
Unit, Squadron, or Ship NZ Mounted Field Ambulance
Date 16 October 1914; 16 October 1916
Transport HMNZT 3 Maunganui; HMNZT 66 Willochra
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Suez, Egypt; Plymouth, England
Other Units Served With 3 NZ Field Ambulance, 1 NZ Field Ambulance & No.3 NZ General Hospital, Codford
Last Unit Served With No 3 NZ General Hospital, Codford

Military Awards

Campaigns Egypt, Balkans (Gallipoli), Western European
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
Military Awards NZ Territorial Long Service Medal 1916

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 11 October 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for war service

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Clerk & Commercial Traveller

Death

Date 12 March 1935 Age 58 years
Place of Death Christchurch, New Zealand
Cause Aortic incompetence
Notices Press, 13 March 1935
Memorial or Cemetery Bromley
Memorial Reference RSA Block 2D, Plot 20
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Charles was born in Christchurch on April 17, 1876, the second son of William (1846-1929) and Sophia (1838-1909, nee Randall) Skinner. His parents had married at St Giles, London, in July 1867, later arriving at Lyttelton aboard the “Geraldine Paget” on December 27, 1874. A shoe maker by trade, William continued in this industry after arriving in New Zealand, later followed by Charles, who became a boot clicker.

Prior to the war Charles had been a territorial member of 3 Field Ambulance, having enrolled in the Christchurch Bearer Company on April 27, 1903. In 1916, whilst serving overseas, he was awarded the New Zealand Territorial Service Medal for long service. When he enlisted at Christchurch on August 15, 1914, he gave his last employer as the South Canterbury Shoe Company Limited (Church Street), Timaru, and his last address being that of his parents at 17 Goldsmith Street, Christchurch. He was probably living with his sister, Mrs J. Haworth of Bellfield Hill, Waimataitai, Timaru, who he nominated as his next of kin. When he enlisted he put his aged forward by 4 years, quoting his birth date as 1880, when in fact it was 1876. His enlistment papers describe him as being single, Anglican, 5 foot 6 ½ inches tall, weighing 154 pounds (70kgs), with a chest measuring 34–37 inches, having a dark complexion, blue eyes, dark hair and only fair teeth.

Charles was posted to the Mounted Field Ambulance which was recruited in Christchurch from 6 Mounted and the 3rd Field Ambulance. The men were mostly experienced volunteers from the Territorial Force, and training was carried at the Awapuni Race Course near Palmerston North. On October 16, 1914, the Mounted Field Ambulance finally sailed from Wellington as part of the Main Body aboard HMNZT 3 SS “Maunganui” carrying 528 men and 204 horses. Because of the danger of the prowling German cruisers “Scharnhorst” and “Gneisenaua” at large in the Pacific, the sailing of the convoy had been delayed from the original sailing date of September 24. The convoy escort was originally made up of two old Royal Navy cruisers which would have been no match for the German ships, so they had to wait for the arrival of the powerful armoured cruiser “Minotaur” and the Japanese battle cruiser “Ibuki”. The convoy had a short stop at Hobart before meeting the 28 ships carrying the Australian Imperial Forces at Albany, Western Australia. On October 29, this huge convoy carrying 20,000 men and 7500 horses began their long journey to Egypt with a stop at Colombo, Ceylon, for re-coaling, before reaching Alexandria on December 3. On November 15 during the voyage, Charles was promoted to unit Staff Sergeant Major (SSM, Warrant Officer 1st Class). On arrival they travelled by rail to Zeitoun near Cairo where they set up camp.

The NZ Mounted Field Ambulance (NZMFA) soon found their equipment was substandard, the wagons being converted delivery vans which had to be altered by the state wagon works at Cairo. Even after alterations they needed 6 horses to pull them empty through the sand of the desert. During the first engagement between the Turks and NZ soldiers at Serapeum on the canal in February 1915, they further discovered they were insufficiently equipped with medical stores. The time in Egypt was beneficial as they gained valuable experience in their own hospitals, and at the base hospital at Abasseyeh. On May 12, 1915, SSM Skinner left Alexandria for the Dardanelles, where he served at Mudros and ANZAC, until returning to Alexandria on the “Ionian” December 26, 1915. During this time he, along with the rest of the NZ Medical Corps, would have been extremely busy dealing with the wounded and increasing sickness facing the troops on the peninsula. ANZAC was at one stage described as being one big hospital due to the general condition of the troops.

After returning to Alexandria, the NZMFA entrained for Ismailia and went into camp at El Moascar. From here on February 3, 1916, Charles moved to Suez where he boarded the SS “Ulimaroa” for his return to New Zealand on duty. After arriving at Lyttelton on April 21, he reported for duty at Trentham Camp before transfer to Queen Mary Hospital at Hanmer. On September 5, he was transferred back to Awapuni for a short time, until he again embarked from Wellington on October 16, 1916, aboard HMNZT 66 “Willochra”. The “Willochra” was carrying part of the 18th Reinforcements NZEF, in convoy with HMNZT 67 “Tofua”, and arrived at Plymouth in England, on December 28. Immediately on arrival he marched into Sling Camp until March 4, 1917, when he left for France and was attached to the strength at Etaples. March 24 saw him attached to No 3 NZ Field Ambulance in the field, before moving to No 1 NZ Field Ambulance on March 27, 1917. The Field Ambulance was a fully equipped mobile tented hospital which could carry out surgery, dispensary and ward accommodation. No 1 NZ Field Hospital was attached to the New Zealand 1st Infantry Brigade, and was to follow them into battle providing necessary medical services on the Somme during 1916, then at Messines and Passchendaele in 1917, and finally during the Spring Offensive and advance to final victory in 1918. Charles served with this unit until he was detached back to England on May 10, 1918, for duty at No 3 NZ General Hospital at Codford. On August 8, 1918, he embarked from Plymouth aboard SS “Paparoa”, arriving home on October 7. On October 11, 1918, after having served a total of 4 years and 59 days, he was discharged as being no longer physically fit for war service, and was later awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory War Medal.

Charles did not marry and resided at 163 Waltham Road, Christchurch, employed as a clerk, and later as a commercial traveller. His health must have progressively deteriorated, as when he died aged 58 years on March 12, 1935, he was a resident at the Rannerdale War Veterans Home. Charles is buried in an RSA block of Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch.

Sources

Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [June 2018]; Assorted records at Ancestry.com [June 2018];

External Links

Related Documents

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Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

TH

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