(Service number 8/3225)

Aliases Jack
First Rank Private Last Rank Corporal


Date 17 January 1893 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 24 August 1915 Age 22 years 7 months
Address at Enlistment Post Office, Clive Grange
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin M. CRANNITCH (father), Temuka Hotel, Temuka
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 7½ inches. Weight 10 stone 9 lbs. Chest measurement 33½-36¾ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair fair. Eyes both 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth - upper plate. Free from hernia, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Varicocele slight. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. Fit.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 8th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Otago Infantry Battalion
Date 13 November 1915
Transport Willochra or Tofua
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Wellington Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian; Western European
Service Medals 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

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


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

31 July 1917 - admitted to No. 3 New Zealand Field Ambulance; admitted to No. 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station.

Post-war Occupations


Date 1 August 1917 Age 24 years
Place of Death France
Cause Died of wounds
Memorial or Cemetery Trois Arbres Cemetery, Steenwerck, Nord, France; Temuka Cemetery memorial
Memorial Reference I. V. 32. General Section, Row 215, Plot 441
New Zealand Memorials Timaru Memorial Wall, Timaru; Temuka RSA Roll of Honor; Temuka War Memorial; St Joseph's Church, Temuka

Biographical Notes

John Crannitch, known as Jack, was born on 17 January 1893 at Timaru, the second child and oldest son of Matthew and Ellen (née St John) Crannitch, of Temuka, this being the only family bearing the Crannitch name in New Zealand. Matthew Crannitch served on the Timaru Borough Council in the 1890s. In 1897 he was a member of the St Patrick’s Day Sports Association, and in 1898 elected an executive officer of the Timaru branch of the New Zealand Workers’ Union, as well as returning to the council table.

Jack was educated at the Marist Brothers' School in Timaru, and then spent time at Holy Cross College, Mosgiel. There in 1907 he was awarded the next in merit prize for the Second Latin class. Back home at Temuka he was a prize-winner at the English Stall at the very popular United Kingdom Bazaar. At the beginning of August 1911 he represented Celtic 2nd Grade in rugby football, at Temuka, the team travelling by the 1.30 express. The following year he was selected for the Celtic III team to play against Zingari III. After leaving school, he worked in the office of Messrs Raymond and Revell in Timaru, before going to the North Island. He was a labourer residing at Hastings in 1914 and, when he attested on 24 August 1915, he was living and working at Clive Grange, Hawke’s Bay. His next-of-kin was his father Matthew of the Temuka Hotel.

Jack's father Matthew Crannitch was engaged in the hotel industry, firstly at Timaru and then for a time at Kurow after the death in 1904 of Ellen, his wife and Jack’s mother, before going to Temuka. He was a “popular proprietor of the Temuka Hotel”, as noted in the frequent advertisements for “Rheumo” throughout the south in the 1914-1916 period. When he renewed his hotel licence in 1915, he was warned that he should provide a meal at any hour for travellers. He was, however, a most popular host and conducted his house in an exemplary manner. Matthew married Ellen Coll in 1908 and added to his family. Matthew Crannitch was a regular contributor for appeals for war funds. In August 1914 he promised a horse provided his son (John), who had volunteered, was accepted for service, in addition to a monetary donation. In 1916 he gave to the Temuka Branch of the Red Cross Society, and in 1918 to the Temuka Mayor’s Relief Fund during the influenza epidemic. Not long before his son’s death he presented a trophy for Temuka Territorials Club competition.

Private John Crannitch had left with the Otago Battalion of the 8th Reinforcements on 13 November 1915, destined for Egypt. Not long after embarking for France in April 1916, he spent more than two months attached to the Light Trench Mortar Battery. Early in 1917 he was promoted to the rank of corporal. And just two weeks before his death he joined the 2nd Battalion, Wellington Regiment. Then, on 31 July he was admitted firstly to the No. 3 New Zealand Field Ambulance and next to the No. 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station at Trois Arbres, France, where he was to die.

It was on 9 August 1917 that Mr Crannitch received word that his son, Corporal John Crannitch, had died. On 1 August 1917, aged 24, Jack died of wounds – a wound to the abdomen and multiple wounds to the leg, suffered in action in France. He was buried in the Trois Arbres Military Cemetery, Steenwerck, France.

From September 1917 his name appeared in the Roll of Honour published regularly by the Temuka Leader – “A sacrifice is made by every man who enlists and goes to the front.” For Jack Crannitch that was the supreme sacrifice. His medals, plaque and scroll were sent to his father. His brother Patrick James also served in World War One, a half–brother Thomas died of wounds in 1944 in World War Two, and another half-brother Matthew James also served in World War Two.

The name of John Crannitch was heard 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 John Crannitch.

John is remembered, along with his brother Thomas, on the headstone of his father and step-mother in the Temuka Cemetery. His name is inscribed on the Timaru Memorial Wall, the Temuka RSA Roll of Honour, the Temuka War Memorial, and the St Joseph’s Church Temuka Memorial. A photo of John appeared in the Otago Witness of 29 August 1917.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [08 October 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5530 0029679) [18 October 2013]; CWGC [09 October 2013]; New Zealand Tablet, 19 December 1907, 7 April 1921, Temuka Leader, 2 January 1908, 16 May 1912, 11 August 1914, 4 September 1917, 3 December 1918, 15 March 1921, 26 April 1927, Timaru Herald, 2 August 1911, 31 October 1916, 19 May 1917, 10 & 11 August 1917, Southland Times, 8 June 1914, Press, 9 June 1915, 13 August 1917, Sun 10 August 1917, North Otago Times, 15 August 1917, Otago Witness, 29 August 1917, Evening Post, 27 January 1944 (Paper Past) [10 & 26 October 2013; 10 June 2014; 06 November 2016; 04 March 2017]; Temuka Cemetery headstone image (Timaru District Council) [2013]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [2013]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [04 March 2017]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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