(Service number 47328)

First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 5 April 1885 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 20 April 1917 Age 32 years
Address at Enlistment John Street, Temuka
Occupation Teamster
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs John HAMILTON (mother), John Street, Temuka
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 4¾ inches. Weight 136 lbs. Chest measurement 35-37 inches. Complexion ruddy. eyes grey. Hair brown. Sight - both eyes /6. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Lungs normal. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated (right). Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Fit. Class A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 26th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company
Date 9 June 1917
Transport Willochra
Embarked From Wellington Destination Devonport, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Infantry Regiment  

Military Awards

Service Medals
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

21 July 1917 - admitted to ship's hospital (Willochra), with gonorrhea 16 August 1917 - admitted to Codford, with V D.

Post-war Occupations


Date 24 August 1918 Age 33 years
Place of Death Somme, France
Cause Killed in action
Memorial or Cemetery Grevillers British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France
Memorial Reference VII. AA.10.
New Zealand Memorials On Memorial wall, Timaru; Temuka RSA Roll of Honour; Temuka War Memorial; St Joseph's Church, Temuka

Biographical Notes

Michael Hamilton was the son of Irish-born parents, John and Catherine (believed née McIntyre) Hamilton, of John Street, Temuka. He was born on 5 April 1885 at Timaru (or Temuka) and baptised Catholic on 18th following at Temuka. His early life was marked by misconduct and with losses. In December 1899, when he was just “a lad a little over 14 years”, a charge of criminal assault on a little girl was replaced with a charge of indecent assault. He pleaded not guilty and was bailed. M. Hamilton’s case was not mitigated by his having given a false name. The judge, however, suggested if domestic discipline had been exercised (“if the father had beaten the boy”), a criminal court case would not be necessary, but there the boy was and had to be dealt with. The judge’s remarks were supported by the not guilty verdict of the jury.

Good fortune came Michael’s way in August 1902, when he won first prize in the art union held in connection with St Mary’s Church, Christchurch – a handsome oil painting valued at thirty guineas. The following April this large painting of a charming mountain scene by a well-known artist was displayed in a Temuka shop window.

Michael’s parents, it seems, had a weakness for alcohol. In 1903 an old man was charged with supplying John and Catherine Hamilton with alcohol, when he should have known that they were both prohibited. Although the old man pleaded innocence and honesty, he was fined or given the option of imprisonment. In September 1905 Michael Hamilton was charged with wilful trespass and with refusing to leave the premises. He and another man, noth the worse for liquor, demanded admission to a certain house, made immoral suggestions and damaged the door. Hamilton was not the ringleader but had been led astray by his companion. As well his counsel said that he had a good character from his employer, who said he was an honest, hardworking, young man, but very easily led. Because it was a first offence and Michael had agood character reference, the Magistrate imposed only a small fine.

In April 1908 his mother died suddenly of heart failure, having been in ill health for some time. It was not until 4 July 1910, it appears, that Michael Hamilton reoffended. He and his older brother Patrick were charged with having been found illegally on licensed premises, and fined 10s each, with 4s 6d costs. Further charges were laid in July 1912 – drunkenness and resisting the constable in his duty, and in May 1913 – procuring liquor for P. and J. Hamilton.

Late July 1913, John’s older sister Mary, the wife of Thomas Spillane, died at the age of 32, leaving three little children. The family was struck another blow on 25 May 1915. The eldest son, Patrick William Hamilton, a married man with five children, was killed when he fell from a lorry between the Opihi and Temuka bridges. A new offence on Michael’s part surfaced in June 1915, when he was charged with the theft of wheat. On pleading guilty, he was fined £2 and ordered to pay £2 towards unrecovered wheat. The following month the three brothers – Michael, John junr, and Joseph Daniel – were all fined for using obscene language, and John also for obstructing. The charges arose out of a disturbance at midnight of June 28th in John Street.

When Michael enlisted on 20 April 1917, he was working as a teamster for T. Sugrue, Belfield. For unknown reason his mother, Mrs John Hamilton, was recorded as his next-of-kin; perhaps just a clerical error. Later it was noted that she was deceased and the name amended to Mr John Hamilton, father. He said that a Will had been made and was held by Mrs P. Hamilton, Temuka, who would have been the widow of his brother Patrick. No will was probated. He stated that one person (his father) was absolutely dependent on him. Having embarked on 9 June, six weeks into the trip he was admitted to the Willochra’s hospital, with infection, and on arrival in the United Kingdom he was admitted to Codford. In November he was discharged to Sling and on discharge from there in December he commenced duty. It was February 1918 when he proceeded overseas and joined a battalion at Rouen. And it was in France that he was to die.

The death of Private Michael Hamilton, 47328, Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 33 years, of Temuka, was reported in Casualty List No. 952 published in mid September – killed in action on 24 August 1918, a victim of the heavy fighting on the Somme, France. He was buried in Grevillers British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France, along with 150 other New Zealanders. His medals were to be sent to his father but as he had died in 1920, the medals (British War Medal and Victory Medal), plaque and scroll were sent to his brother Joseph, possibly his only surviving sibling.

At the January 1919 meeting, the Mayor, on behalf of the Temuka Borough Council, moved a vote of condolence to the father and family (after it was incorrectly reported that a third son had been killed at the front). The motion was carried in silence, members standing. His brother John Hamilton was killed in action in 1917; his youngest brother Joseph Daniel Hamilton also served and was wounded in World War One.

His name is inscribed on the Timaru Memorial Wall, the Temuka RSA Roll of Honour, the Temuka War Memorial, and on the St Joseph’s Church Temuka Memorial. The St Joseph’s Church, Temuka, Memorial, an “exceedingly beautiful” monument to the memory of those who had fallen in the war, was unveiled after a Memorial Service on 25 April 1922. During the service appropriate music was provided by the choir and an excellent address was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Kennedy.

The names of Michael and John Hamilton were heard again on Anzac Day, 1927. A Requiem Mass was celebrated at St Joseph’s Church, Temuka. The celebrant preached a very stirring sermon based on the Book of Wisdom (Chapter III, Verses 2-5). He pointed out that the Gallipoli campaign and later “gigantic episodes” would remain for all time a wonderful symbol of the age-old courage of men. He reminded the lads present that the enormous sacrifices made by the soldiers of New Zealand and other parts of the Empire were helping them to have brighter and better lives, and that all should render thanks to God, who had delivered them out of the hands of the enemy.

They had gathered to commemorate the landing at Gallipoli and also to set aside the day to show their deep and grateful acknowledgement of the services of the men who had fought and died for them on other fields of the great battle-front. “The light of immortality that flashed from the abandoned tomb of the risen Christ lingers on in every mound of Flanders mud and clay, the gullies of Gallipoli, the sands of Palestine and Egypt, on the quiet churchyards in English villages and on God’s acres in New Zealand.. . . . And to-day, before God’s altar, we remember them with the love we bore them and the pride we shall have in them,” he concluded. Before the Dead March was played by the organist, the names were read of those from the Temuka parish who had died “on the field of honour” – among them those of Michael Hamilton and John Hamilton.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [08 October 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5539 0049697) [25 June 2014]; CWGC [09 October 2013]; Temuka Leader, 14 & 26 December 1899, 8 February 1900, 2 September 1902, 18 April 1903, 18 February 1904, 28 September 1905, 28 April 1908 [x 2], 14 July 1910, 31 July 1913, 26 October 1918, 16 January 1919, 26 April 1922, 26 April 1927, Timaru Herald, 28 September 1905, 30 July 1912, 28 May 1913, 26 & 27 May 1915, 5 July 1915, 17 September 1918, Press, 15 July 1910, 9 June 1915, Sun, 17 September 1918, New Zealand Times, 17 September 1917, Colonist 18 September 1918 (Papers Past) [18 November 2013; 05 March 2015; 06 September 2015; 14, 15 & 19 July 2017]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [05 March 2015]; Baptism Record (Christchurch Catholic Diocese Baptism Index CD, held by S C Branch NZSG) [06 September 2015]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [2013; 2017]; Temuka Cemetery & Mataura Cemetery records; probate record of Joseph Daniel Hamilton (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [20 July 2017]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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