SLODDEN, John Edwin
(Service number 23/1188)
|First Rank||Rifleman||Last Rank||Sergeant|
|Date||19 December 1881||Place of Birth||Waimate, New Zealand|
|Date||29 May 1915||Age||33|
|Address at Enlistment||Care NZ Railways, Glenavy, New Zealand|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Miss Eliza Slodden (sister), Glenavy, South Canterbury, New Zealand|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||5 foot 8 inches tall, weight 13 stone 7 pounds (86kgs), chest 38-41 inches, dark complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair, excellent teeth.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||7th Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||1st Battalion, NZ Rifle Brigade, D Company|
|Date||19 October 1915|
|Transport||HMNZT 30 Maunganui|
|Embarked From||Wellington, New Zealand||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With||2nd ANZAC Cable Burying Party, 2nd Field Company|
|Last Unit Served With||1st Battalion, NZ Rifle Brigade, D Company|
|Campaigns||Egypt, Western European|
|Service Medals||1914-1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
|Date||13 April 1919||Reason||End of engagement|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
10 April-23 May 1917 - admitted to 3 NZ Field Ambulance - transferred to hospital at St Omar - mumps.
|Date||26 November 1959||Age||77 years|
|Place of Death||Oamaru, New Zealand|
|Notices||Dept Internal Affairs, 8 December 1959|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Oamaru Lawn Cemetery|
|Memorial Reference||RSA Block 4, Plot 1|
|New Zealand Memorials|
John (also known as Jack) was born at Waimate on December 19, 1881, the second son of Alfred (1851-1901) and Eliza (1838-1913 nee Sizemore) Slodden. Alfred was born in Stepney, Middlesex, England in 1841, and married Eliza at Waimate on February 14, 1885. Eliza was born at Waikouaiti, Otago, on September 22, 1838, Alfred being her fourth husband. She had been previously married to John Williams (1819-1854), John Edward Roden-Thompson (1837-1860) and Frederick William Newman (1837-1927).
John was educated at the Waimate District School, and was later employed by NZ Railways at Glenavy as a Surfaceman. Early in December 1904, John, at great risk to himself, was involved in rescuing a body from the Waitaki River. For this feat, later in the month he was awarded a purse of sovereigns subscribed by numerous admirers for his pluck. He was well known in the Glenavy district for his singing voice and being a willing member of various community organisations.
John enlisted at Glenavy on May 29, 1915. Prior to leaving for camp, he was presented with a shaving outfit by his railway comrades, and a wristlet watch, cigarette holder and purse of sovereigns from the residents and farming community of Glenavy. The Waimate men were farewelled from Waimate on Saturday May 29, 1915, and later the same day joined up with the Timaru men at Timaru Railway Station, from where they left for camp at Trentham. His enlistment papers describe John as being Anglican and bigger than average; he was 5 foot 8 inches tall, aged 34 years, weighed 13 stone 7 pounds (86kgs), single, chest measuring 38-41 inches, having a dark complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair, and excellent teeth. His sister Eliza of Glenavy was nominated as his next of kin. At Trentham the new Battalions became known as “The Trentham Regiment" (The Earl of Liverpool's Own) and John was given the regimental number 23/1188. These numbers distinguished the members of each Battalion; 23 being 1st Battalion NZRB, 24 2nd Battalion NZRB, and later the 3rd and 4th Battalions were given the prefix 25 and 26. At Trentham and Rangiotu near Palmerston North, John completed his infantry training.
Promoted to Lance Corporal on September 8, before leaving Wellington on October 10, 1915, John left aboard one of five transports as part of the 7th Reinforcements for the 1st Battalion NZ Rifle Brigade. These transports were HMNZT Numbers 30–34 “Maunganui, Tahiti, Aparima, Navua, and Warrimoo”. The convoy arrived in Albany, Western Australia on October 19, where they linked up with the Australian contingent. At Albany the convoy divided, the "Tahiti," with the 2nd Battalion, sailing in company with the "Navua" and "Aparima," for Suez via Colombo. The "Maunganui" and the "Warrimoo," on the other hand, called at Fremantle, where the 1st Battalion and troops of the 7th Reinforcements went ashore for a route march and three hours' general leave. These two transports sailed from Fremantle at 8 p.m. on October 23, and on November 15th the 1st Battalion disembarked from the "Maunganui" and entrained for Aerodrome Camp, near the town of Heliopolis, close to Cairo.
At Helipolis training continued until on December 21, the 1st Battalion boarded shipping at Alexandria as part of the Western Frontier Force for Mersa Matruh where the Senussi Moslems led by Turkish Officers, and their supporters, had attacked the British forces. Here the Battalion received their baptism of fire and fought like seasoned troops. The total British casualties in this action were:—1 officer killed and 13 wounded; other ranks, 30 killed and 278 wounded. The NZ battalion had 1 other rank killed and 2 officers and 30 other ranks wounded. The enemy's casualties were estimated from observation and prisoners' reports to be not less than 200 killed and 500 wounded. On February 15, 1916, the Battalion, now known as the 1st Battalion 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade, disembarked at Alexandria. On March 7, the Battalion, now part of the newly formed NZ Division, moved out to the camp at Ferry Post, taking over the defensive section from the 2nd Australian Division.
The Brigade moved on March 20 from Ferry Post to Moascar Camp, where it remained until it left for France early in the following month. 1 Battalion NZRB left aboard “Arcadian” for France on April 6, arriving at Marseilles on April 12, 1916. From here they moved by train on April 13, reaching Hazebrouck about midnight on 15-16 April, then having to further move on to Steenbecque. On the night of May22/23 the NZRB commenced its first tour of duty in the trenches, taking over part of the sector due east of Armentieres. This was a supposed “quiet” area to get the troops used to trench warfare. The NZRF casualties were quite heavy caused mostly by shell-fire. In August the Battalion was relieved and moved back to Doudelaineville where training began in earnest for the Somme Offensive. In early September they moved up to Fricourt to take up positions on the Somme. On September 15 the NZ Division attacked Flers as part of the Battle of the Somme. The winter of 1916/17 was spent on the River Lys, near Armentieres. During this time on August 21, LCpl Slodden reverted back to the rank of Rifleman. The Brigade was to remain in reserve from January 8-24, 1917, during the most severe winter known in the region for thirty years. The Brigade then went back into the line in the Cordonnerie Section, east of Laventie.
On March 16, Rifleman Slodden was attached to the 2nd ANZAC Cable Burying Party, re-joining his unit on April 5. On April 10, he was admitted sick to 3 NZ Field Ambulance, and then transferred to hospital at St Omar with mumps. He re-joined his unit on May 23, and again was promoted, this time to Lance Corporal on June 7, but again relinquished the appointment at his own request on July 27. By April 20, 1917, the Battalion was back in the vicinity of Messines, the 1st Battalion at Neuve Eglise. 1917 was to be a full on year; June 7 the Battle of Messines began followed in July 27 & 31 at Basserville, 4-12 October attack on Gravenstafel – Passchendaele (part of the 3rd Battle of Ypres), and December 3 attack on Polderhoek Chateau.
In early October the Battalion moved back to rest areas and from November 24 to January 23, 1918, Rifleman Slodden was detached to the 2nd Field Company during which time on December 15, he was again appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal. The engineers were busy laying light railway and tramway systems forward all the time and this is probably the task he was employed on. Shortly after re-joining his Battalion, he had leave in England from January 28 to February 12, 1918. From March 21 to April 4, 1918, he enjoyed another period of leave in Paris. The Division was in rest in the St. Omer area at the end of March, 1918, when the Germans began the Spring Offensive, and were transferred south and put into the rear-guard battle west of Bapume. It remained in the Colincamps Sector continuously until the 10th of June, and then went into rest (probably in the area north of Pas). The losses during the period in line were at times not inconsiderable. Since July 10, the Division has been in line in the Hebuterne sector. During this time on July 21, John was promoted to full Corporal. In early August the Battalion went into rest and on August 20, Corporal Slodden was attached to the 3rd Army Reserve. Whilst here, on August 30, he was promoted to Sergeant. He again re-joined his unit on September 9, just in time for the fighting around Gouzeaueourt Wood, Trescault Spur, and the advance to the Selle River.
On October 13, Slodden was detached to 4 Corps LG (light gun) School until back to his unit on November 4. By now the Brigade had concluded the successful attack on Le Quesnoy and returned to billets in Solesmes. Here they began refitting and retraining until receiving in the early hours of November 11, a telegram conveying the message “Hostilities cease at 11 am to-day”. The New Zealand Division was detailed to form part of the Army of Occupation across the Rhine, and on November 28, the NZ Rifle Brigade, as part of the NZ Division began the long march to Germany, reaching Cologne just before Christmas. The end was now rapidly approaching. Demobilization had begun on December 26th, when the first draft of men left for England, en route for New Zealand. By the end of January, drafts from the Division were leaving at the rate of 1,000 men per week; and a further 40 men per day were being despatched to England on leave, on completion of which they reported to the Depots and did not return to Germany. On February 1, 1919, Sgt Slodden left London aboard SS “Hororata”, arriving at Wellington on March 14.
John had a period of leave at home in Glenavy and on Friday night March 21, at the Glenavy School, a social and dance was held for the returning soldiers of the district where they were presented with gold medals inscribed “From Glenavy residents in appreciation of services rendered in great war 1914-18”. After having served for 3 years and 220 days, John was discharged from the army on April 13, 1919, and was later presented with the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. His name is commemorated on the Glenavy District Honours List.
In 1920 John applied for a land grant under the Discharged Soldier’s Settlement Act, and farmed in the district for the remainder of his life. In 1936 he married Daisy Dorothy Grimson, a young local girl, but they divorced after a few months. John died at Oamaru on November 26, 1959, aged 77 years, and is buried in the Oamaru Lawn Cemetery.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [June 2018]; Assorted records at Ancestry.com [June 2018]; Waitaki District Council cemetery database at http://www.waitaki.govt.nz/our-services/do-it-online/cemetery-search/Pages/default.aspx?surname=sloddenhttp://www.waitaki.govt.nz/our-services/do-it-online/cemetery-search/Pages/default.aspx?surname=slodden; Recovery of a body in the Oamaru Mail 8 December 1904 p2, "Gelnavy notes" noting Slodden being awarded purse of sovereigns for recovering the body from the Waitaki River in the Oamaru Mail 29 December 1904 p4, "recruiting in Timaru" in the Timaru Herald 26 May 1915 p9, :Off to the front" in the Timaru Herald 31 May 1915 p9, "Farewelling the troops" in the Oamaru Mail 12 June 1915 p8, and "Social and presentations to returned soldiers at Glenavy" in the Oamaru Mail 25 March 1919 p1, 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
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