(Service number 7/1568)
|First Rank||Lieutenant||Last Rank||Captain|
|Date||2 August 1890||Place of Birth||Plaitstow, Essex, England|
|Date||8 July 1915||Age||24|
|Address at Enlistment||Ashwick, Fairlie|
|Previous Military Experience||3 years Christ College Cadets; 2 1/2 years Canterbury Yeomanry; 4 years 8th (SC) Mounted Rifles|
|Next of Kin||Mrs W.F Hamilton (mother), Ashwick Station, Fairlie|
|Medical Information||6 foot 0 1/2 inches tall, weight 158 pounds (72kgs), chest 35 1/2 - 38 1/2 inches, fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, good teeth.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||7th Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Canterbury Mounted Rifles|
|Date||9 October 1915|
|Embarked From||Wellington, New Zealand||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Canterbury Mounted Rifles|
|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|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
18-20 May 1916 - admitted to 2 Mounted Field Ambulance - sunstroke. 27 June-11 July 1916 - admitted to Scott House & Hospital, Kantara - debility & sunstroke.
|Date||9 August 1916||Age||26|
|Place of Death||Bir-el-Abd, Egypt|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt|
|Memorial Reference||A 42|
|New Zealand Memorials||On Memorial wall, Timaru; Fairlie War Memorial, Mackenzie County Roll of Honour, Kimbell School Roll of Honour, St Stephens Anglican Church, Lincoln University Roll of Honour Board, Christ College Roll of Honour, Waitaki Boys High School Roll of Honour.|
Cyril was born at Plaitstow, Essex, England, on 2 August 1890, son of Arthur Blakeney (born in Ireland in 1858) and Cora (nee Cannon) Blakeney (born 1895 Highgate, London, England). In 1895, Cora had been re-married to William Feilden Hamilton (born in London, 1849) at Wandsworth, England in. They had come out to New Zealand, via Australia, to take up farming at Ashwick Flat, Fairlie.
Cyril was educated at the Kimbell School and attended secondary school at Waitaki Boys High, Christ’s College (where he was a prefect). From 1908 to 1909 he attended the Canterbury Agricultural College (Lincoln College) where he edited the college magazine and won awards for mathematics, mensuration and meteorology. After leaving college he worked for his step father at Ashwick Flat. Throughout his youth he was a keen rugby, cricket and tennis player, and later a hunt club member and member of the Timaru A&P Association where undertook steward duties. He was also involved with the cadet forces and territorial army for many years, having previously been a member of the Christ College Cadets for three years, a member of the Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry for two and a half years, and having served a further four years with the 8th (South Canterbury) Mounted Rifles. While in the South Canterbury Mounted Rifles he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in 1911 and Lieutenant in 1913.
On 8 July 1915 Cyril enlisted in the Canterbury Mounted Rifles which had been raised for war service, based upon the three pre-war Territorial Force Regiments: the 1st Mounted Rifles (Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry, the 8th (South Canterbury) Mounted Rifles, and the 10th (Nelson) Mounted Rifles. His enlistment papers described him as being aged 24 years, 6 foot and one half inch tall, single, Anglican, weighting 158 pounds (72 kgs), with a chest measuring 35 ½-38 ½ inches, having a fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair and good teeth. His mother Mrs W.F. Hamilton of Ashwick, Fairlie, was nominated as his next of kin. On 9 July 1915, Cyril left Timaru for camp at Trentham and from there was sent to the new camp at Awapuni camping on the racecourse and in the show grounds. At Awapuni his appointment as a Lieutenant in the 8th (South Canterbury) Mounted Rifles was confirmed. The mounted recruits spent the first seven weeks doing normal training which included drill, bayonet fighting, musketry etc, followed by four weeks of basic training with horses, and with the remainder on more advanced and strategies.
On 9 October, as part of the 7th Reinforcements Canterbury Mounted Rifles, he travelled aboard HMNZT 33 “Navua” in a convoy with four other ships: HMNZT 30 “Maunganui”, HMNZT 31 “Tahiti”, HMNZT 32 “Aparima”, and HMNZT 34 “Warrimoo”. Brief stops were made at Albany in Australia on 21 October, where they linked up with the Australian contingent. They then sailed on to Colombo, arriving on 4 November, where the troops had a short shore leave, before passing through the Red Sea and arriving at Port Suez on 18 November 1915. During the voyage they were kept busy cleaning their gear, undergoing exercises and rifle drills. Boxing was also a popular sport aboard where all could take part, being matched with others of the same size and ability. On arrival they entrained to the training base at Zeitoun where they would join the badly depleted Canterbury Mounted Rifles when they returned from Gallipoli in late December.
Training continued until 23 January 1916, when Cyril’s unit left for the Canal Zone, taking up new defensive positions on the Canal, before moving to the railhead at Ferrypost on 7 March. When most of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force sailed for France in April 1916, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles (NZMR) remained in Egypt as part of an Anzac Mounted Division which was helping defend Egypt against the Ottoman Turks. Their task was to destroy or neutralise the Turkish bases in the Sinai Peninsula. On 18 May Cyril was admitted to 2 Mounted Field Ambulance with slight sunstroke for two days. On 23 June he was further promoted to Captain. Four days later he was again admitted to Scott House with debility and sunstroke, and from there transferred to hospital at Kantara to recover, re-joining his unit on 11 July.
On 4 August 1916, the Battle of Romani began with the NZMR moving out in pursuit of the Turkish forces. The Turks defended a strong position and the attack was abandoned with the loss of two men killed and 14 wounded. Two days later the NZMR left their positions and found Katia to be empty of enemy forces, re-contacting them at Oghratina. The day was spent observing and avoiding shellfire and the Canterbury Mounted Rifles (CMR) were ordered to withdraw at 7p.m. On 7 August the CMR left camp with the rest of the NZMR returning to Oghratina where they spent the day observing the Ottoman defences before withdrawing to bivouac at Er Rabah. The next day the CMR left camp with the rest of the NZMR at 4.30 a.m. and found Oghratina abandoned. Patrols made contact with the main Ottoman position 3 km west of Bir el Abd. On August 9 the CMR took part in the attack on Bir-el-Abd as part of the ANZAC Mounted Division. Initially they were held in reserve, but they were soon sent forward to support the left flank of the Auckland Mounted Rifles. The Ottoman counter-attacks eventually halted the advance and at 11.20 a.m. enfilading fire forced the left flank to retire. With Ottoman attacks continuing they were forced to withdraw at 4.15 p.m. The CMR successfully withdrew while in close contact with enemy forces. The days fighting cost nine men killed and 22 wounded. Another six men were reported as wounded and missing. It was later found that Captain Blakeney was one of those killed that day and he was buried in the field. His body was later reburied in the Kantara War Memorial Cemetery. Kantara War Memorial Cemetery is situated at Kantara East on the eastern side of the Suez Canal, 160 kilometres north-east of Cairo and 50 kilometres south of Port Said.
Cyril had been engaged to Miss Leila Cave Orme, a nurse at the Weir Hospital, Louth, Lincolnshire, and as his recently nominated next of kin, was also advised of his death. His mother was later sent a plaque and scroll along with his three war medals consisting of the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. His name is commemorated on the Timaru Memorial Wall, Mackenzie District Memorial, Mackenzie County Roll of Honour, Kimbell School Roll of Honour, St Stephens Anglican Church, Lincoln University Roll of Honour Board, Christ College Roll of Honour, Waitaki Boys High School Roll of Honour. Cyril’s half-brother was Bill Hamilton of jet boat fame.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [November 2020]; New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at https://nzef.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=21935; "For Women Folk" in Star Christchurch 12 July 1915, "eight Reinforcements" in Oamaru Mail 20 Jul 1915, "Roll of honour" in NZ Herald 22 August 1916, "Fighting under tropical sun" in Mt Benger Mail 13 June 1917, "Somewhere in the desert" in Timaru Herald 18 November 1916, "Whart the Turks got in Egypt" in Timaru Herald 14 October 1916, "The Egyptian Campaign" in Ellsemere Guardian 11 October 1916, "Mackenzie County Council monthly meeting" in Timaru Herald 2 Sep 1916, "Town & Country" in Timaru Herald 3 October 1918, and "Waitaki High School: Old Waitakians' Memorial Service" in Oamaru Mail 5 Apr 1920, all courtesy of Papers Past at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ ; "Cyril Blakeney" (2 articles), Living Heritage Tikaka Toku Iho, at https://livingheritage.lincoln.ac.nz/nodes/view/840 and https://livingheritage.lincoln.ac.nz/nodes/view/26223; "Mackenzie District memorial - Fairle" at https://sites.rootsweb.com/~nzlscant/fairlie_war_memorial.htm; A Street near you at https://astreetnearyou.org/person/474308/-; Newcastle Journal September 5th. (Chronicles of the NZEF September 19 1916 p57)
No documents available.
Researched and Written by
Carol Bell, SC branch NZSG & Timaru Herald; Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG
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