GYNES, David John
(Service number 6/466)

Aliases John, Jack
First Rank Private Last Rank Lance Corporal


Date 19 September 1891 Place of Birth Rangitata

Enlistment Information

Date 14 August 1914 Age 22 years 10 months
Address at Enlistment Makikihi
Occupation Farm labourer
Previous Military Experience 2nd South Canterbury Regiment (still serving)
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Albert GYNES (father), Hook, Makikihi, South Canterbury
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 9 inches. Weight 154 lbs. Chest measurement 34½-37 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes grey. Hair black. Sight, hearing and colour vision all correct. 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 Infantry Battalion
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 (Gallipoli); Western European (Messines)
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

28 April 1915 - Wounded in action at the Dardanelles. 26 May 1915 - admitted to the General Hospital at Alexandria. Wounded, now fit for duty, sent to the front from the base at Alexandria to the Dardanelles. 8 July 1915 - Admitted to hospital at Mudros, sick with dysentry. 15 July 1915 - Admitted to No 16 Stationary Hospital - 9 July 1915; transferred to No 15, with enteric. 17 August 1915 - Admitted to Hospital Ship, with debility after enteric. 12 September 1915 - Admitted to Military Hospital, Bethnal Green. 23 August 1916 - Transferred from Camp to NZ Command Depot at Codford, Wiltshire.

Post-war Occupations


Date 7 June 1917 Age 25 years
Place of Death Messine, Belgium
Cause Killed in action
Notices Star (Christchurch), 20 June 1917
Memorial or Cemetery Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial, Messines Ridge British Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials Timaru Memorial Wall; Waimate War Memorial (as P. J. Gynes?); Geraldine War Memorial; Hook Memorial Hall tablet

Biographical Notes

David John Gynes, known as John or Jack, was born on 19 September 1891 at Rangitata, the youngest son of Albert and Harriet Louisa (née Hillier) Gynes, of Hook, Waimate, and formerly of Rangitata. He was baptised on 27 March 1892 at the Geraldine Presbyterian Church. 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. John and his siblings were educated at the Rangitata Station School. In 1901 John won a Standard II prize, which was presented on the day of the annual picnic. 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. Jack was one of three sons of Albert who left for the Front in 1914. He served in the Canterbury Infantry Battalion, while his brothers were both with the South Canterbury Mounted Regiment. His brother James Gynes died of wounds in 1915. Another brother Thomas Ernest Gynes also served in WWI and was wounded at the Dardanelles, returned home invalided and, after recovering, went to the Front for a second time.

While working as a farm labourer at Makikihi, in August 1914, Jack Gynes volunteered and underwent medical inspection at that time. He was 22 years 11 months of age, Presbyterian, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 154 pounds in weight and had a chest measurement of 34½-37 inches. Overall he was in good physical shape, and he was serving with the Second South Canterbury Regiment. He left from Waimate and was with the South Canterbury Infantry men who arrived in Addington Camp on 17 August 1914 and quickly settled down in the quarters prepared for them. He was in the Second South Canterbury Company under commanding officer Captain D. Grant. He embarked at Lyttelton on 14 October, reaching Egypt in early December.

6/466 Private D. J. Gynes was wounded at the Dardanelles on 28 April 1915, and admitted to the General Hospital at Alexandria. His name was one in a big list of casualties which illustrated the strenuous nature of the New Zealanders’ engagement. At this time his brothers James and Thomas Ernest were serving with the South Canterbury Mounted Regiment. About a month later, having recovered from his wounds, he returned from Alexandria to the Front for duty. But he was again admitted to hospital several times with enteric and dysentery – Mudros on 8 July 1915, No. 16 Stationary Hospital the next day, and transferred to No. 15 on 15 July. On 17 August 1915 he was admitted to the hospital Ship suffering with debility, after enteric. In September 1915 he arrived per troopship in England and was admitted to the Military Hospital, Bethnal Green, London. By this time his brother James had died on the hospital ship after being shot in the abdomen, and his wounded brother Thomas was also conveyed by troopship to England. “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).

Jack still managed a couple of indiscretions. On 6 May 1916 he was absent from 10pm till 11pm after general leave and broke into camp, for which he was confined to barracks for seven days. And when he lost equipment (grey trousers) on 12 January 1917, he had to pay the cost of same. Jack Gynes was transferred from Camp to the New Zealand Command Depot at Codford, Wiltshire on 23 August 1916, and in September he returned to France, joining the Second Battalion of the Canterbury Rifles.

Next Jack's name appears in Casualty List No. 598 - killed in action on 7 June 1917 in the battle of Messines. He was only 25 years old and the second of the family to be lost in the war. By this date Thomas Gynes had been home invalided and had returned to the front. D. J. Gynes had been appointed Lance-Corporal on 14 May 1917, just three weeks before his death. Although the Battle of Messines was a striking success, the New Zealanders paid a heavy price for success. Two of his sisters living in Christchurch inserted a death notice in the Star (Christchurch) on 20 June 1917 – “He nobly gave his life, his all.”

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. 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. Lance Corporal D. J. Gynes is remembered on the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial, Messines Ridge British Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium; and at home, on the Timaru War Memorial Wall, the Waimate War Memorial (as P. J. Gynes), the Geraldine War Memorial, and the Hook Memorial Hall tablet. His medals - 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal - were sent to his father at Hook, as were the scroll and memorial plaque. Early in 1920 Albert applied for the Overseas War Service Gratuity in respect of his son, D. J. Gynes 6/466.

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 Ernest Gynes 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.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [03 December 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5539 0048712) [10 February 2015]; CWGC [03 December 2013]; NZ BDM indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [04 December 2013]; Temuka Leader, 24 July 1886, 24 February 1888, 15 September 1891, 22 August 1899, 24 December 1901, Timaru Herald, 29 April 1887, 24 April 1895, 15 August 1914, 7 May 1915 [x 2], 8 & 11 May 1915, 2 & 3 June 1915, 19 & 25 June 1917, 4 July 1917, 1 August 1917, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 17 August 1914, 7 May 1915, 20 September 1915, 2 January 1917, 19 June 1917, Sun, 5 September 1914, 13 September 1915, Press, 18 & 21 August 1914, 30 August 1922, New Zealand Times, 7 May 1915, Evening Post, 2 June 1915, Poverty Bay Herald, 3 June 1915, 25 June 1917, Star, 3 June 1915, 20 June 1917, North Otago Times, 21 June 1917 (Papers Past) [04 & 05 December 2013; 05 October 2014, 11 November 2014; 11 & 12 February 2015; 21 & 22 February 2018]; School Admission Records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [2013]; NZ BDM Indexes (DIA historical records) [04 December 2013]; Family tree ( [12 February 2015]; Geraldine Presbyterian Baptism record (South Canterbury Museum) [03 September 2017]; Church of England marriage record ( [22 February 2018]; 1861, 1871 England census records ( [22 February 2018]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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