DUKE, Joseph Martin
(Service number 5/41A)

First Rank Trooper Last Rank Private


Date 15 July 1891 Place of Birth Waimate

Enlistment Information

Date 23 August 1914 Age 23 years
Address at Enlistment Wilson Street, Timaru
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs R. DUKE (mother), Wilson Street, Timaru
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 7½ inches. Weight 142 lbs. Chest measurement 34-36 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes brown. Hair brown. Eyes both 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Main Body
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Date 16 October 1914
Transport Tahiti or Athenic
Embarked From Lyttelton, Canterbury Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion

Military Awards

Campaigns Balkans; Western European
Service Medals 1914-1915 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

6 December 1915 - admitted to hospital at Dardanelles; 23 August 1916 admitted to No. 1 Australian General Hospital, sick. Later in 1916 admitted to Field Ambulance. Reported in hospital in March 1917, but not a severe case; suffering from onychia, admitted to 1st South African General Hospital at Abbeville, progress favourable. September to October 1917 - in hospital at Codford, with varicose vein problems; discharged to Convalescent Depot at Codford.

Post-war Occupations


Date 19 May 1918 Age 26 yrs
Place of Death No 3 Canadian Hospital Station, in the Field, France
Cause Died of wounds
Notices Lyttelton Times, 25 May 1918
Memorial or Cemetery Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No. 2, Somme, France
Memorial Reference I. B. 16.
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Joseph Martin Duke was the eldest son of James Duke and his third wife, Rachel née McCutcheon, of Timaru. Mr James Duke was a coal miner, which occupation brought him to South Canterbury. In mid 1889 he took the lease of the mine in the Kakahu district where, for some years, it had been known that good coal existed. He was also connected with the opening of lime kilns at Kakahu. Mr Duke, who had worked in most of the New Zealand coal mines and had been a pioneer of the coal industry at Mt Somers, had much experience of colleries in the Old Country. At a meeting held in the school at Woodbury in May 1906, Mr James Duke was called upon to explain the position and prospects of a proposed coal mine to work deposits in the Waihi Gorge. He had made a detailed study and believed the prospects were very promising. The owners of the Te Moana coal mine, open in 1907, secured the services of Mr Duke to make a thorough prospect of their site. He was particular in his work and spoke highly of the samples found. James Duke(s) died on 11 March 1911 at the Timaru Hospital. The family was then living on the corner of Wilson and Cullman streets. He was buried in the Timaru Cemetery. It is apparent that the family moved about a great deal when the children (nine from three marriages) were at school.

Joseph was born on 15 July 1891 at Waimate. He started school at Kakahu Bush, going from there to Geraldine, followed by stints at South Malvern, Templeton, Springburn, Kaikoura, Cheviot, Amberley, Dalbeg, Hapuka – all in Canterbury. War broke out and J. M. Duke was among the first to enlist, on 23 August 1914, aged 23 years. He named his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs Rachel Duke, Wilson Street, Timaru. Joseph was at home with his mother, single, a labourer at Waimataitai, Timaru, and Presbyterian. His complexion was dark, and eyes and hair both brown. He was 5 feet 7½ inches tall, weighed 142 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 34-36 inches. He was in good physical and mental condition; sight, hearing, colour vision, teeth, limbs, joints, chest, heart and lungs all being fine. As well he was vaccinated and free of diseases and defects.

Twelve men of the 8th South Canterbury Mounted Rifles, including J. M. Duke, left Timaru on 19 August 1914 by the mid-day train. They were given a hearty send-off, with rousing cheers, and farewelled by the Mayor and Archdeacon Jacob. Their horses were trucked at the show grounds and added to the train at Smithfield. Duke was in B Squadron, composed entirely of South Canterbury men, under Major Wain. “They look a smart and formidable array,” observed one visitor to the Addington Camp. “The general impression is is one of businesslike activity, of stern realisation by the troops of the gravity of the situation, of ready response to calls of duty and the willingness of officers and men to assist each other. The men are cheerful, determined, and calm, yet eager to leave camp, to get away and ‘get at it’. . . . . . We wish them all a speedy and safe return to these shores.” The 27 August orders for B Squadron were to parade dismounted and carry out standard tests in musketry. On 2 September they attended the funeral at Prebbleton of their comrade, Trooper Matthew Gallagher, who fell accidentally to his death.

Trooper J. M. Duke embarked with the Main Body, Canterbury Mounted Rifles, at Lyttelton on 16 October 1914, for Suez, Egypt. Nearly 8,500 New Zealanders left for war on this date. Having disembarked at Alexandria on 3 December 1914, Joseph Duke had to pay £1. 5 shillings, at Zeitoun, to replace articles of equipment lost through neglect. He embarked for the Dardanelles in July 1915, later being admitted to hospital there and subsequently returned to Alexandria. In 1916 he spent time with the No. 1 Field Bakery before embarking for France in April. On 23 August 1916 he was admitted to the No. 1 Australian General Hospital, sick. He rejoined his unit as a Private and later in the year, after admission to the Field Ambulance, he was attached to No. 1 Company as a loader. Driver Duke, 5/41A, was reported in hospital in March 1917, but not a severe case. Suffering from onychia, he had been admitted to the 1st South African General Hospital at Abbeville, where progress was favourable, such that he was transferred to Base Depot in France the following month. Drunkenness, creating disorder, and obscene language brought 21 days detention in May 1917 at Rouen. It was “desired to send this man to England on duty” and in August 1917 Duke was transferred to the Canterbury Infantry Regiment. From September to October 1917 he spent a month in hospital at Codford, with varicose vein problems, and was discharged to the Convalescent Depot at Codford, where he spent another month before marching in to Sling, Larkhill, and Sling in succession.

Private Joseph Martin Duke died of wounds on 19 May 1918 at No. 3 Canadian Hospital Station, in the Field, Boulogne, France, as advised in Casualty List No. 863 issued on 25 May. He had marched out from Sling and proceeded overseas again only 11 days prior. It was on the 19th that he had suffered gunshot wounds to the abdomen. Aged 26 years, he had been overseas for well over three years. He was buried in the Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No. 2, Somme, France. A Roll of Honour notice in the Lyttelton Times of 25 May named his brothers Privates W. F. B. and T. Duke, on active service. Five brothers were at the front at the same time, Joseph dying in May 1918 and his brother William in November 1918. Another notice named his parents and two sisters. Joseph had signed a Will in favour of his mother on 26 March 1918, but it appears that it was never brought to probate. In 1919 his loving sister Beatrice remembered, and the following year Beatrice and his brother Frank.

Private J. M. Martin was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal, which were duly sent in 1923 to his mother in Christchurch. The plaque and scroll had been sent prior. His half brother William Henry Dukes died of sickness in November 1918. Brothers Benjamin Robert Duke and Taylor Duke also served in World War I, as did half-brother Francis (Frank) Duke.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Centotaph Database [09 November 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0035887) [01 July 2014]; CWGC [09 November 2013]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [2013]; Star, 5 July 1889, Temuka Leader, 17 May 1906, 9 November 1907, Timaru Herald, 13 & 14 March 1911, 20 & 22 August 1914, 25 May 1918, Press, 24, 27 & 28 August 1914, 25 May 1918, Star, 2 September 1914, Sun, 5 September 1914, 26 May 1918, New Zealand Herald, 20 March 1917, Otago Daily Times, 25 May 1918, Lyttelton Times, 25 May 1918, 19 May 1919, 18 May 1920 (Papers Past) [14 November 2013; 07 August 2015; 01 May 2016; 21, 22 & 23 June 2019]; School Admission records (South Canterbury & Canterbury branches NZSG) [2013]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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