GRAY, William Moody
(Service number 7/602)

First Rank Trooper Last Rank Sergeant


Date 23 May 1887 Place of Birth Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia

Enlistment Information

Date 8 September 1914 Age 27 years
Address at Enlistment District Survey Office, Napier
Occupation Surveyor (Lands & Survey Dept)
Previous Military Experience D Battery Wellington; discharged at own request.
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs L. GRAY, 29 Hawkesbury Avenue, Saint Albans, Christchurch
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 7 inches. Weight 140 lbs. Chest measurement 32½-36 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair fair. Sight, hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs all normal. Limbs and chest well formed. Full movement of joints. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Good bodily and mental health. Two marks from operation for appendicitis. Vaccinated in 1890; re-vaccinated 11 May 1915 (in right arm).

Military Service

Served with New Zealand 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 Mounted Rifles  

Military Awards

Campaigns Balkans (Gallipoli); Egypt
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

Wounded at Dardanelles on 21 August 1915. 25 September 1915, while posted at Anzac, he was admitted to hospital (on Lemnos), with debility and septic shins.

Post-war Occupations


Date 9 August 1916 Age 29 years
Place of Death Canal Zone (Suez), Egypt
Cause Killed in action
Memorial or Cemetery Kantara Memorial, Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt; Memorial Stone Temuka Cemetery (brother's plot)
Memorial Reference A. 67. Temuka Cemetery - General Section, Row 145, Plot 533.
New Zealand Memorials On Memorial wall, Timaru; Temuka War Memorial; Temuka District High School Roll of Honour; Opihi College Roll of Honour; Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Biographical Notes

William Moody Gray was the youngest son of William Baird and Louisa (née Moorcroft) Gray, of Dubbo, New South Wales. He was born on 23 May 1887 at Dubbo. William’s father had died by 1904, when his oldest brother John Cowie Gray died suddenly at his work in the bank at Temuka. At this time his mother was the librarian at Temuka . It appears his father may have died in 1889 in New South Wales. By 1891 his mother and her four children, including William - a three year old scholar, were living at her native Derby, Derbyshire, England. In 1894 Mrs Louisa Gray came from England to New Zealand with her three sons and one daughter by the "Tongariro". The family went initially to Dunedin, probably to Gray relatives. William was educated at school in Derby, England and George Street School, Dunedin, before transferring with his brothers to the Temuka School in May 1895, and then on to the Temuka District High School.

William passed the Civil Service junior examinations which were held in January 1904, when he was at Timaru, and the Civil Service senior examinations which were held in January 1908, by which time he was in Auckland. In 1910 he completed his surveying examinations, was gazetted as having qualified as a licensed surveyor, and was later admitted as a member of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors - at their annual meeting in January 1915, by which time he had already left for the front. He had entered the Government Survey Department and was in the District Office at Napier just prior to enlisting. He was fond of outdoor sport but was unable to participate freely because of his surveying duties in country areas for nine months of the year. In 1911 he was residing and working as a surveyor in Raetihi and Maungaweka.

Shortly before the war he was transferred to Christchurch, where his mother was living and where he enlisted with the 8th (South Canterbury) Regiment, being one of the first to enlist. He reached Egypt on 4 December 1914, having embarked on 16 October 1914 at Lyttelton. William served with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles throughout the Gallipoli campaign, where he was wounded at the Dardanelles on 21 August 1915. He was suffering from debility, septic shins and impetigo. Upon recovering, he returned to the peninsula, and was among the last 27 officers and men who remained as rearguard in the evacuation.

With regard to descriptions and valuations of land to be disposed of at Waikaremoana in October 1915, the Commissioner of Crown Lands explained that five of the survey party engaged on the survey of the block had gone to the front. A letter received from one of the surveyors stated that he had been wounded on 6 August, that Mr W. M. Gray and one other had also been wounded, whilst the other two had been killed.

On 28 July 1915 William was appointed Lance Corporal; on 4 October 1915 he was to be Corporal; and on 16 October 1915 he was promoted to Sergeant.

A letter dated 22 December 1915 was received from Sergeant W. M. Gray, N.Z.M.R. in which he details the charge at Gallipoli. [Dominion, 18 February 1916] “We had a general advance on August 6, and the N.Z.M.R. were mentioned in dispatches for the work they did. We advanced with empty rifles, and relied on the bayonet alone. The utter silence of the advance scared the Turks more than any amount of rifle fire would have done. They had no idea of our numbers, so in most cases they bolted when we reached their trenches. Of course, our casualties were heavy, as we had to advance under machine-gun and rifle fire. By the end of the week we had lost over fifty per cent. Right through August we slept practically every night under arms. It's jolly uncomfortable in the web-equipment with a hundred and fifty rounds in the pouches, so that unless we were very tired we got no sleep. It was impossible to sleep in the daytime owing to the flies and heat. On the 21st we had a daylight charge at 3.30 p.m., and it was regular murder. . . . . . . My wound did not stop me from going on, but it was very painful, and took a month to heal. We stayed in the trenches for about sixty hours after we charged, and when we were relieved I was sent away to a hospital on Lemnos. . . . . . . One Australian described the Lemnos hospitals (East Mudros particularly) as 'flies, fleas, famine, and fatigues.' The description, though good, is inadequate—he omitted lice, which swarm there. . . . . .

"After a few weeks there we sailed for Anzac, where we have been until a few days ago, when we evacuated the position, and came back here. I was one of the rearguard of our regiment, and we were the last to leave the left flank, and among the last to leave Anzac. . . . . . . . . Many of our fellows have had a trip back to New Zealand, and fully deserve the trip, but it hurts to think of a few getting equal praise, and being considered the equals of the real heroes – the men left dead on the Peninsula."

On 23 January 1916 he left for Suez Canal, where he was killed in battle on 9 August. William was initially buried on the battlefield; his name is inscribed on the Kantara Memorial, Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.

The Roll of Honour erected at the Temuka District High School to perpetuate the memory of the ex-pupils of the school who lost their lives in the Great War, was unveiled in June 1921 in the presence of large gathering, comprising nearly all the pupils of the school and some hundreds of adults. Proceedings commenced with the singing of “O God our help” and the saying of the Lord’s Prayer. The chairman said “These men went forth to do battle for right against a strong and mighty foe, knowing that they might not return to their own again. It was therefore our duty as fellow citizens to do something to keep their names ever green in our minds and hearts.”

William is remembered in the Australian Commemorative Roll. There is a memorial plaque on the grave of his oldest brother John Cowie Gray in the Temuka Cemetery. His name is also recorded on the Timaru War Memorial Wall, the Temuka War Memorial, the Temuka District High School Roll of Honour, the Opihi College (formerly Temuka High School) Roll of Honour, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Roll of Honour. At the Institute of Surveyors annual meeting in January 1917 this promising young surveyor was remembered.

His plaque and scroll and advice re his medals (1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal) were all sent to his mother in Christchurch. William Moody Gray signed a will on 22 September 1914, by which he bequeathed to his mother, Louisa Gray, all his personal effects, articles of personal use and ornament, jewellery, and surveyor’s outfit, instruments, appliances and books; to his brother, James Moorcroft Gray, his freehold section in Christchurch; and to his sister, Louie Gray, a pecuniary legacy of twenty-five pounds. His brother James Moorcroft Gray also served with the New Zealand Forces in World War One.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [05 September 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5539 0047191) [03 July 2014]; CWGC [05 September 2013]; Australian War Memorial - Commemorative Roll (book) [05 September 2013]; TDC Headstone image Temuka Cemetery [06 September 2013]; New Zealand Herald, 23 Feb 1904, 1 October 1910, Timaru Herald, 6 September 1904, 20 September 1915, Press, 6 September 1904, 20 September 1915, 22 & 28 August 1916, Otago Witness, 19 Feb 1908, Evening Post, 4 November 1910, Otago Daily Times, 21 January 1915, Dominion, 18 February 1916, 5 January 1917, Poverty Bay Herald, 11 October 1915, Sun, 22 August 1916, Feilding Star, 26 August 1916, Colonist, 30 August 1916, Temuka Leader, 25 June 1921 (Papers Past) [05 September 2013; 03 July 2014; 02 March 2016; 04 July 2016]; Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [16 January 2016]; New South Wales birth indexes, marriage index & death index (online); 1891 England census ( [01 March 2016]; School Admission records (Dunedin Branch NZSG & South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [2013].

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