GLIDDON, William John
(Service number 8/1994)

First Rank Lance Sergeant Last Rank Sergeant


Date 14 February 1891 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 15 January 1915 Age 23 years
Address at Enlistment 447 Princes Street, South Dunedin
Occupation Commercial traveller
Previous Military Experience 4th Otago Regiment
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin J. GLIDDON (father), Harper Street, Timaru
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 10 inches. Weight 168 lbs. Chest measurement 34-38 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue grey. Hair fair. Sight normal. Hearing good. Colour vision 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. No fits. No illness.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 5th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Otago Infantry Battalion
Date 13 June 1915
Transport Maunganui or Tahiti or Aparima
Embarked From Wellington, NZ Destination Suez, Egypt (24 July - 6 August 1915)
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Otago Infantry Regiment    

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian; Balkans; 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

Post-war Occupations


Date 14 July 1916 Age 25 years
Place of Death Somme, France
Cause Killed in action
Notices Timaru Herald, 2 December 1916
Memorial or Cemetery Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres, France
Memorial Reference II. E. 25.
New Zealand Memorials On Memorial wall, Timaru; Timaru South School Memorial; Pleasant Point School Memorial

Biographical Notes

William John Gliddon was born on 14 February 1891 at Timaru, the youngest son of James and Rachel (née Agnew) Gliddon, of Harper Street, Timaru. He was educated at the Timaru South School and the Pleasant Point School after the family moved in 1901. Sergeant W. Gliddon was remembered at the 5 July 1915 meeting of the Timaru South School Committee, when a Roll of Honour board was unveiled, to remind boys and girls “of the brave young men who had belonged to the school, and of their self-sacrificing devotion to the cause of honour and freedom.”

It was at Pleasant Point that he played for the local football team in his youth. And in 1909 he was one of the company of Pleasant Point amateurs who gave their first concert and adopted the nickname “The Cats” (the initial letters of the Canterbury Amateur Theatrical Society). The company was congratulated on having such promising talent and attracted about 200 people to their very successful performance.

By 1911 William had moved to Dunedin where he worked firstly for a grocer at Caversham and then as a commercial traveller. In May 1911 he incurred a fine for leaving a horse unattended in George Street.

Come 1915 and William, already serving with the Otago Territorials, volunteered for service and left Dunedin by special train on 13 February, as one of the Otago quota of the fifth reinforcements. They were headed for Trentham to undergo training before leaving for the front. The departure of the Dunedin men worked with "true military precision", even with thousands of people gathered to see them on their way. After falling in at the Garrison Hall, the troops marched to the Queen's Gardens where the Union Jack and other flags were floating proudly. The Mayor in his address, said "You are going forth to help the Empire in the very important duty she is now engaged upon, and we are here as citizens of Dunedin to bid you farewell and to bid you God-speed." Mr G. W. Gibson, the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, delivered a very eloquent address, in the course of which he said "they were going to take part in a war to uphold the very foundations of civilisation and liberty." Bunting was displayed on many of the buildings along their route to the station, and the good wishes of all were clear.

Corporal W. J. Gliddon was promoted to lance-sergeant in June 1915 at Trentham. He left for Suez with the Otago Infantry Battalion on 13 June 1915, and for France in April 1916, after being promoted to sergeant.

Next Sergeant William John Gliddon was reported missing, believed to be killed on 14 July 1916. Just over a week later it was reported that he had indeed been killed in action on 14 July, which was noted by the headmaster of South School at the August 1916 monthly meeting. Mr James Gliddon also received official word of his son’s death and that he was buried in the Cite Bon Jean Cemetery.

His family published a Thanks notice in the Timaru Herald of 17 August 1916 – “for expressions of sympathy in this their sad time of sorrow and suspense, caused by the report that their son was killed in action in France”.

William had been a grocer’s assistant in Dunedin and was at the time of enlistment employed by Messrs Scoular and Company as their travelling representative for Canterbury and Westland. At the January 1916 annual meeting of the New Zealand Commercial Travellers and Warehousemen’s Association, he was one of several members named as having responded nobly to the call of the Empire and whose names were recorded on the roll of honour. Little did his colleagues realise that six months later he would be named among the war dead. And in the Association’s annual report of December 1916, W. J. Gliddon is one of three members named as being killed in action during the year. “As regards those who have laid down their lives for their country, the main consolation now is the reflection that they played a splendid part in fighting for civilisation and right, and crowned it by the supreme sacrifice.”

“He was a very popular young fellow and was a most successful commercial traveller,” reports the Otago Daily Times of 29 July 1916. And in the Dunedin Evening Star newspaper of 9 August 1916 - “He was a most successful ‘commercial,’ and his demise is lamented by a large circle of friends.”

Probate in the estate of William J. Gliddon was granted in the Dunedin Court on 20 November 1916. William had drawn up his will as he was about to leave New Zealand with the Expeditionary Force. He directed that all his estate real and personal be held by his trustee for his mother and, if she should die before, his four brothers and only sister. His medals (1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal), plaque and scroll were all sent to his father in Timaru.

His family inserted an In Memoriam notice in the Timaru Herald of 14 July 1917 – “Where duty called, or danger, he was not wanting there.” And in subsequent years their youngest and dearly beloved son was faithfully remembered – 14 July 1917, 15 July 1918, 14 July 1919, 14 July 1920.

William's name is inscribed on the tablet in memory of ex-pupils who fell in the great war, which was unveiled at Timaru South School on 18 September 1919 in a memorable and unique ceremony. “No nobler boys had left the shores of New Zealand than ex-pupils of the Timaru South School,” said one long-term committee member.

A casualty of the Somme campaign, he is remembered too, on the Timaru War Memorial Wall and the Pleasant Point School Memorial. A tablet to the memory of the ex-pupils of the Pleasant Point District High School who lost their lives in the Great War, was unveiled in June 1922. After the singing of the National Anthem, the chairman of the school committee addressed the gathering. “He was pleased to say that the ex-pupils of the school had nobly come forward at their country’s call, prepared to do or die in defence of what they considered right against might. He was sorry to say that twenty of these men had been called upon to make the supreme sacrifice, and those present were gathered that day to do honour to these fallen ex-pupils, by unveiling a tablet to their memory.” A prayer was offered, the hymn “O God our Help” was sung; a scripture reading was given, after which “Kipling’s Recessional” was sung. Mr T. D. Burnett, M.P., who unveiled the tablet, thanked the committee for the great privilege of being asked to do “honour to the brave sons of the district who had come forward prepared to do their utmost in their nation’s trial.” In pulling the tape, which let loose the Union Jack that was covering the tablet, Mr Burnett read the names of the deceased heroes – W. J. Gliddon and eighteen others. A prayer by the Rev. Hinson, the hymn “Abide with Me,” and the sounding of the “Last Post” concluded the service. The tablet bears the following inscription. — “l9l4 For King and Country 1918.”

In Memory of the Ex-pupils

Of this School,

Who gave their Lives

In the Great War.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [20 October 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5539 0045321) [28 August 2014]; CWGC [21 October 2013]; Timaru Herald, 19 May 1909, 10 July 1909, 23 July 1915, 7, 9 & 17 August 1916, 2 & 4 December 1916, 14 July 1917, 15 July 1918, 14 July 1919, 19 September 1919, 14 July 1920, 27 June 1922, Otago Daily Times, 9 May 1911, 14 February 1915, 1 March 1915, 10 January 1916, 29 July 1916, 9 & 17 August 1916, 23 November 1916, Evening Post, 14 June 1915, Sun, 28 July 1916, Star, 27 July 1916, 5 August 1916, Evening Star, 27 July 1916, 5 & 9 August 1916, 22 November 1916, 20 December 1916, Press. 31 July 2016 (Papers Past) [30 October 2013; 01 September 2014; 19 August 2015; 01 March 2016; 28 August 2021]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [19 August 2015]; School Admission Registers (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [19 August 2015]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [19 August 2015]; Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [19 August 2015]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to


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