GYNES, Thomas Ernest
(Service number 7/53)

Aliases Tommy
First Rank (1) Trooper; (2) Lance Corporal Last Rank Trooper


Date 3 October 1889 Place of Birth Rangitata

Enlistment Information

Date (1) 13 August 1914; (2) 23 March 1917 Age (1) 23 years 10 months; (2) 27 years 5 months
Address at Enlistment (1) Makikihi; (2) Returned Soldiers' Hostel, Wellington
Occupation (1) Farm labourer; (2) Labourer
Previous Military Experience (1) Geraldine Mounted Rifles; (2) 1917 - Main Body N.Z.E.F. (wounded)
Marital Status (1) Single; (2) Single
Next of Kin (1) Albert GYNES (father), Hook, Makikihi, South Canterbury; (2) Albert GYNES (father), Makikihi, South Canterbury
Religion Anglican
Medical Information (1) Height 5 feet 9 inches. Weight 147 lbs. Complexion dark. Eyes blue. Hair black. Eyes both 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both good. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of 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. Two small moles 1 inch apart middle of back left side. (2) Height 5 feet 10 inches. Weight 154 lbs. Complexion ruddy. Eyes blue. Hair dark brown. 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. Illnesses - wounds at Gallipoli 1915. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated (right arm). Good bodily and mental health. Slight defects but not sufficient to cause rejection - wounds (healed). No fits. Cannot flex the right forearm beyond the right angle.

Military Service

Served with New Zealand Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation (1) Main Body; (2) New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship (1) Canterbury Mounted Rifles; (2) 25th Reinforcements, Mounted Rifles
Date (1) 16 October 1914; (2) 31 May 1917
Transport (1) Tahiti or Athenic; (2) Moeraki, then transhipped to "Port Lincoln" at Sydney for Suez .
Embarked From (1) Lyttelton, Canterbury; (2) Wellington Destination (1) Suez, Egypt; (2) Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Mounted Rifles

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian, Balkan
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 (1) 26 July 1916; (2) 24 February 1919 Reason (1) No longer physically fit for war service (gunshot wounds to right arm and right leg); (2) In consequence of being no longer phyysically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on Active Service.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Wounded at the Dardanelles, 21 August 1915 and admitted to St Thomas Hospital, London - gunshot wounds to leg and right arm. October 1917 admitted to hospital with tonsillitis. 18 July 1918 admitted to Stationary Hospital at Ismailia - muscular spinal paralysis. October 1918 admitted to hospital, sick - slight malaria.

Post-war Occupations



Date 25 May 1958 Age 68 years
Place of Death Hook, Waimate
Cause Result of an accident
Notices Timaru Herald, 27 May 1958
Memorial or Cemetery Waimate Lawn Cemetery
Memorial Reference Plot 000329
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Thomas Ernest Gynes, known as Tommy, was born on 3 October 1889 at Rangitata, the third surviving son of Albert and Harriet Louisa (nėe Hillier) Gynes, of Hook, South Canterbury, and formerly of Rangitata. This was the only Gynes family living in New Zealand. Albert Joynes [sic] and Harriet Hillier had married on 27 August 1871 at West Dean, Gloucestershire, England, and immigrated to New Zealand by the Otaki in 1875-1976, with two children. In the 1880s and 1890s Albert Gynes worked as a water race ranger in the Rangitata and Orari district for the Geraldine County Council. By 1886 he was serving on the Rangitata Station School committee, was re-elected in 1887, and throughout the 1890s. He was a very active member in supporting the school, notably in the successful concert held in aid of school funds in September 1891. Tommy and his siblings were educated at the Rangitata Station School. In 1894 young Tommy Gynes won a P.3 prize, which was presented after sports and races at the annual school treat. On the same occasion his brother Edward and sister Sarah also won prizes. And in 1901 on the day of the annual picnic, he was placed third in Standard V. One son, William Francis, died tragically at the age of 1 year 9 months in 1888 when he fell into a well. By 1906 Albert had moved to Hook. His wife Harriet had died on 21 August 1898, after a short illness, and Albert himself died in 1927.

1914 was a notable year for the Gynes Boys. On the outbreak of war their father, Albert, subscribed £1 to the Waimate Patriotic Fund. Tommy was one of three sons of Albert who left for the Front in 1914. He was with the South Canterbury Mounted Regiment, along with his brother James who died of wounds at sea in 1915, while Jack served with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion and was killed in action in 1917 in Belgium. Thomas Ernest Gynes was himself wounded at the Dardanelles, returned home invalided and, after recovering, went to the Front for a second time. Yet another brother, Edward Albert Gynes, a dairy farmer of Hook, appealed his call-up in 1917, stating that three of his brothers had gone to the Front; two had been killed and the other was home again; that he would like to go too, but he had to think of the farm.

Thomas Ernest Gynes enlisted at the outbreak of war, on 13 August 1914, having volunteered for Waimate’s Mounted quota two days before.He was then a farm labourer living at Makikihi, and had served with the Geraldine Mounted Rifles. The South Canterbury Mounted Contingent was required to muster at the Show Grounds at 11 o’clock on 15 August for final inspection before entraining, In fact it was some days before the second draft of South Canterbury mounteds reached Addington Camp. The Eighth (South Canterbury) Mounted Rifles Squadron was under the command of Major Wain. T. E. Gynes embarked on 16 October 1914 at Lyttelton, heading for Suez, Egypt, and disembarked at Alexandria on 3 December 1914. In April 1915, when David John was wounded, Thomas Ernest and James were both serving with the South Canterbury Mounted Regiment. Thomas embarked for the Dardanelles on 9 May 1915. There he suffered gunshot wounds to the leg and the right arm at the Dardanelles on 21 August 1915 and was subsequently admitted to St Thomas Hospital in London. In September 1915 both Thomas and his brother John arrived per troopship in England, wounded. By this time his brother James had died on a hospital ship after being shot in the abdomen. “The Gyneses are spoken well of by their neighbours at Makikihi, being quiet and cool but strong of physique and of great courage. The afflicted father bears his burden with Spartan fortitude.” (Waimate Daily Advertiser, 20 September 1915). A few months later, after furlough and time at Weymouth Camp, Trooper Gynes returned to Wellington, New Zealand, arriving about 7 March 1916 on the "Arawa". On discharge in July 1916 he was deemed of good character.

Thomas responded to the call to arms and volunteered again a year after returning home. This time he was living at the Returned Soldiers' Hostel in Wellington and working as a labourer for the N.Z. Express Co. Ltd. He attested at the Town Hall Recruiting Office. There was little variation in Thomas's medical examinations from 1914 to 1917 - he had grown an inch and lost a little weight, his complexion had become ruddy, two small moles were no longer visible, and movement in his right forearm was restricted by his wounds at Gallipoli, Yet on his return home in 1916 he had been declared unfit for Active Service and for Home Service. He had restricted movement in his right forearm and was unable to close his right hand properly because a bullet had passed through it. He bore the scars of wounds right up his right arm and on the middle of his back. In May 1917 at Featherston Camp, he was appointed lance-corporal in the Mounted Rifles for the 25th Reinforcements. He arrived in Egypt on 6 August 1917, having left New Zealand on the Moeraki and transhipped to the Port Lincoln at Sydney, and reverted to the rank of trooper.

In October 1917 Thomas was admitted to hospital with tonsillitis. He was admitted to the Stationary Hospital at Ismailia on 18 July 1918, affected by muscular spinal paralysis, and in October 1918 again admitted to hospital, sick with slight malaria. Trooper Thomas Ernest Gynes, of Makikihi, arrived back in New Zealand from Egypt after his second stint at the Front, in January 1919 per the “Malta”, which was bringing invalided soldiers home from Egypt, twelve South Canterbury men among them. About 300 Rarotongans returned on the same vessel. He had given a total of three years and 322 days of service at Gallipoli and in Egypt, for which he gained the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He was finally discharged on 24 February 1919, not surprisingly because he was no longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service.

A welcome home for Thomas and seven others was held in a barn at Hook in mid April 1919. The barn was prettily decorated with flags and greenery. The night was beautifully fine and motors and traps came from as far as Waimate and Otaio. Each one was presented with a nicely inscribed gold medal and cheered heartily. After dancing until the early hours of the morning, singing and refreshments, “Auld Lang Syne” brought the proceedings to a close. From January 1917 the names of all three Gynes brothers were published in the regular “Waimate’s Roll of Honour, Great War of 1914” column in the Waimate Daily Advertiser.

On 23 April 1919 at "Craigmohr", Wellington, Thomas married Jessie Kelly. Jessie may have been waiting, as Thomas had returned home not long before. They lived at Southburn then at Hook until both died less than three weeks apart in 1958 at Waimate, Thomas dying on 25 May at Hook as the result of an accident. The Waimate RSA participated in his funeral at the Waimate Cemetery. Thomas had returned to farming and in 1934 land in the Waitaki district was transferred to him. Their son, John Archibald Gynes (Jack), served in World War II. Jack ran the farm at Hook, and his sister, Elizabeth Louisa Gynes (Betty), was a trained nurse who worked in various parts of the country before returning to Hook where she nursed and farmed with John. For eight years she was matron of Waimate Hospital. Both died unmarried.

On 29 August 1922 the Hook Soldiers' Memorial Hall - described as one of the finest halls in any country district in Canterbury - was dedicated in the presence of a large number of residents and visitors, and a memorial tablet above the door was unveiled. Impressive and inspiring addresses were delivered. A guard of honour of returned men, in uniform, was present. Was Thomas in this guard of honour? And the "Last Post" was sounded before afternoon tea was handed round by the ladies of the district. The names inscribed on the tablet include James Gynes and David J. Gynes. Thomas was appointed the executor and trustee of the will of his sister Sarah who died in 1958.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [03 December 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5539 0048714) [15 February 2015]; NZ BDM indexes (DiA) [04 December 2013]; Timaru Herald, 29 April 1887, 24 April 1895, 15 August 1914, 11 May 1915, 17 September 1915, 25 June 1917, 4 July 1917, 1 August 1917, 16 & 21 January 1919, 15 April 1919, Temuka Leader, 4 February 1888, 27 December 1894, 15 September 1891, 22 August 1899, 24 December 1901, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 12 & 27 August 1914, 20 September 1915, 19 April 1916, 2 January 1917, 15 April 1919, Press, 24 August 1914, 12 February 1916, 16 April 1919, 30 August 1922, 18 April 1934, Sun, 5 September 1914, 16 September 1915, Star, 18 August 1914, 17 March 1916, New Zealand Times, 28 March 1917, Evening Post, 28 & 29 May 1917, 24 April 1919 [x 2], Otago Daily Times, 15 January 1919 (Papers Past) [04 & 05 December 2013; 28 June 2014; 11 & 12 February 2015; 30 June 2016; 21 & 22 February 2018]; Waimate Cemetery headstone transcriptions (South Canterbury Branch NZSG microfiche collection) [12 March 2014]; Waimate Cemetery burial records (Waimate District Council) [15 February 2015]; School Admission Records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [2013]; NZ BDM Indexes (DIA historical records) [04 December 2013]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [2014]; Family tree ( [12 February 2015]; probate record of Sarah Gynes (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [13 February 2015]; Timaru Herald, 27 May 1958, 13 June 1958, 9 July 1927, 24 & 25 July 1972 (Timaru District Library) [16 February 2015]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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