PALMER, Clarence Victor
(Service number 6/3124)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank|
|Date||23.9.1895||Place of Birth|
|Address at Enlistment||52 Wharenui Road, Riccarton, Christchurch|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||W.H. Palmer (father), Wharenui Road, Riccarton, Christchurch|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||7th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion|
|Date||9 October 1915|
|Transport||HMNZT 32 Aparima, HMNZT 33 Navua, or HMNZT 34 Warrimoo|
|Embarked From||Wellington, New Zealand||Destination||Suez,Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With|
|Campaigns||Egyptian 1915-1916, Egyptian Expeditionary Force 1916, Western European 1916-1918|
|Service Medals||1914-15 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||6 June 1919||Reason||Discharged on terminal of period of engagement|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Date||1 October 1984||Age|
|Place of Death||Timaru|
|Notices||Internal Affairs notification in personnel file|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Temuka Cemetery|
|Memorial Reference||General Section, Row 245, Plot 1011|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Clarence (Cal) Palmer was born in Christchurch on 23 September 1895.
On his enlistment into the army in June 1915 his occupation was described as labourer, which a descendant believes was with a Christchurch butchery business.
Cal enlisted in the army on 14 June 1915 (aged 20 years 9 months) and discharged on 6 June 1919. He served in Egypt, Egypt EF and Western Europe. Verbal family history recounts Cal was a gunner on a front line, during which time he lost an eye due to shrapnel. The family story is that Cal was patched up and sent back to the front line.
Following his discharge, Cal settled in Temuka with his wife, Dolly (Cecilia). They purchased a house on the corner of Guise Street and Domain Avenue. My understanding is that the property was initially a half acre, later being reduced to a quarter acre. Cal lived there the rest of his life - as did Dolly until she moved to a rest home toward the end of her life.
His grandson recounts; “After the trauma of war, all Cal wanted was a quiet life. With maturity, I know now that the sights he would have seen no doubt played a huge part in that. It would probably be known as post-traumatic stress syndrome today. Cal kept his property immaculate. Almost every time I saw him as a youngster, he would be tending some part of his domain.”
As young children his grandsons would visit Cal and Dolly at their Guise Street home (still standing in 2018). They would be enthusiastically welcomed. Occasionally they asked him what the war was like. His reply never really varied. "It wasn't good lad, it wasn't good."
The family recount that during the years of the great depression Dolly once said she could make eggs and milk go further than could be imagined. They also recall they were frugal people, but with a half acre they may have grown much of their fruit and vegetables in their own garden.
Cal spent much of his working life as a cheesemaker for the Temuka Cooperative Diary Co Ltd from around August 1921 to 30 June 1931 when the business was discontinued. In July 1932 Cal was working at the Waimate Cooperative Dairy Co Ltd. In 1935 his occupation was given as the manager of the company. How he traveled there is perhaps a mystery – there is no family history or story of him ever living there. He may have had a car, but his grandson only recalls that at one point after retiring he purchased a new Morris Minor and was very proud of it.
His grandson recalls:
“Growing up in a rural town there was always plenty of work for a youngster. Working with our father, my brother and I picked pototatoes for a local grower for years as children and teenagers. Frequently Dad would knock off a bit early in the afternoon to go and pick up Cal to help out. At the age of at least 75 until into his eighties, Cal would walk the rows of harvested potatoes sewing the sacks and then helping to hoist them on the trailer as the tractor crawled down the rows. He must have been a strong man, although a mechanical hoister in later years made the job more comfortable.”
Cal died on 1 October 1984, and is buried in the Temuka Cemetery.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [10 October 2018]; SCroll web submission by L Palmer, 2 October 2018
Researched and Written by
Tony Rippin (South Canterbury Museum), based on biography by L Palmer
Currently Assigned to