BUTLER, Maurice Francis
(Service number 11812)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||17 March 1884||Place of Birth||Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland|
|Date||11 January 1916||Age||32 years|
|Address at Enlistment||Waverley|
|Occupation||Labourer (for Public Works Dept)|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mrs J. MANATON (sister), Plough Hotel, Rangiora|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 8 inches. Weight 160 lbs. Chest measurement 36-38½ inches. Complex dark. Eyes grey. Hair brown. Sight and hearing both good. Colour vision normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth fair. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Not free of haemorrhoids. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. Haemorrhoids - slight defect but not sufficient to cause rejection. No fits. Fit.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||12th Reinforcements Wellington Infantry Battalion, B Company|
|Date||1 May 1916|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With||1st Otago Infantry|
|Last Unit Served With||Otago Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, B Company|
|Campaigns||Western European (Messines)|
|Service Medals||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
|Date||7 June 1917||Age||33 years|
|Place of Death||Belgium|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial, Messines Ridge British Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium|
|New Zealand Memorials||On Memorial wall, Timaru; St Joseph's Church Temuka|
Maurice Francis Butler was the third son of Catherine Butler née Griffin, of Coolbane, Killorglin, Co. Kerry, Ireland, and the late Francis Butler. Born on 17 March 1884 at Killarney, County Kerry, Maurice came to New Zealand in about 1905. Sixteen year old Maurice was still at home with his family at Coolbane, in 1901, working as a farm labourer, as was his brother William. He worked on farms in the Temuka district for two years before going to the North Island. Family who were known to be in New Zealand were a brother William who also served in World War One, his sister Hannah Cecilia who married to John Oliver Manaton in 1910 at Timaru and his sister Catherine Frances who married Herbert O’Connor in 1919 at Fairlie. He also had an uncle, William Butler living at Glen-iti.
Like so many other young Irish men who came to New Zealand to find work and better prospects, Maurice found himself rising to the challenge of defending both his native country and his adopted country. When he enlisted in the North Island on 11 January 1916, his next-of-kin was his sister Mrs J Manaton, of the Plough Hotel, Rangiora. The following year she was the one to receive the cabled advice of his death.
When he enlisted Maurice was residing at Waverley and working as a labourer for the Public Works Department. Having joined the Wellington Infantry Regiment of the 12th Reinforcements, he embarked on 1 May 1916 from Wellington, headed for Suez on the “Ulimaroa”. M. F. Butler later transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Otago Infantry Regiment, with which unit he was serving when he met his fate. While in camp at Trentham, he incurred his share of punishments – forfeit of 1 days pay for being absent without leave and 1 days pay for overstaying his leave; 7 days confined to barracks for drunkenness. Later in the Field he forfeited 14 days pay for drunkenness and incorrect equipment on parade. He was in good physical shape, though, as with so many others, his teeth were only fair.
Although destined for Suez, Private Butler disembarked at Southampton. From there he was posted to Sling and in October 1916 he left for France and got to join his Battalion – 1st Otago Infantry – at Rouen. All his service was in the Messines campaign, until he was killed in action on 17 June 1917 in Belgium, aged 33 years. His was one of 141 deaths recorded in Casualty List No. 606.
His medals – British War medal and Victory Medal - were authorised to be sent to his father at Coolbane, but he too, died in 1917, at home in Ireland. Maurice left no will. It appears that his oldest brother James may have also been in New Zealand as he and William, noted as brothers, were nominated as next-of-kin but their address was not known. His sister Hannah Manaton was the legal next-of-kin.
Maurice Francis Butler is remembered at the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial, Messines Ridge British Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. His name is also inscribed on the Timaru Memorial Wall and on St Joseph’s Church, Temuka, Memorial. This latter – an “exceedingly beautiful” monument to the memory of those who had fallen in the war - was unveiled after a Memorial Service on 25 April 1922. During the service appropriate music was provided by the choir and an excellent address was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Kennedy.
The name of Maurice Butler was heard again on Anzac Day, 1927. A Requiem Mass was celebrated at St Joseph’s Church, Temuka. The celebrant preached a very stirring sermon based on the Book of Wisdom (Chapter III, Verses 2-5). He pointed out that the Gallipoli campaign and later “gigantic episodes” would remain for all time a wonderful symbol of the age-old courage of men. He reminded the lads present that the enormous sacrifices made by the soldiers of New Zealand and other parts of the Empire were helping them to have brighter and better lives, and that all should render thanks to God, who had delivered them out of the hands of the enemy.
They had gathered to commemorate the landing at Gallipoli and also to set aside the day to show their deep and grateful acknowledgement of the services of the men who had fought and died for them on other fields of the great battle-front. “The light of immortality that flashed from the abandoned tomb of the risen Christ lingers on in every mound of Flanders mud and clay, the gullies of Gallipoli, the sands of Palestine and Egypt, on the quiet churchyards in English villages and on God’s acres in New Zealand.. . . . And to-day, before God’s altar, we remember them with the love we bore them and the pride we shall have in them,” he concluded.
Before the Dead March was played by the organist, the names were read of those from the Temuka parish who had died “on the field of honour” – among them that of Maurice Butler.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [08 October 2013]; CWGC [09 October 2013]; N Z Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5530 0021173) [18 October 2013]; Timaru Herald, 17 September 1910, 29 June 1917, 25 October 1919, New Zealand Herald, 28 June 1917, Evening Star, 28 June 1917, Temuka Leader, 30 June 1917, 26 April 1922, 26 April 1927, Sun, 30 June 1917 (Papers Past) [18 October 2013; 09 February 2017]; 1901 census Ireland (nationalarchives,ie, per ancestry.com.au) [06 April 2014]
- Great War Stories - Maurice Francis BUTLER - Timaru Herald 11 March 2017 (pdf, 78.7 KB updated 15-Sep-2017)
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC brnach NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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