(Service number 7/58)

Aliases John Angus
First Rank Trooper Last Rank Trooper


Date 20 July 1886 Place of Birth Fairlie

Enlistment Information

Date *August 1914 Age 28 years
Address at Enlistment C/o C. Talbot, Fairlie, Canterbury
Occupation Farmer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Timothy HARNETT (father), Fairlie, Canterbury
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information

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 Balkan (Gallipoli)
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 4 August 1916 Reason No longer Physically Fit for War Service on account of Illness Contracted on Active Service.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

10 August 1915 - admitted to hospital - gastro enteritis & dysentry

Post-war Occupations



Date 30 January 1923 Age 36 yrs
Place of Death Dunedin Hospital
Cause Gastric ulcer & stomach dilation
Notices Timaru Herald, 1 February 1923
Memorial or Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Memorial Reference General Section; Row 22; Plot 355
New Zealand Memorials Timaru Memorial Wall (as HARNETT J. A.); Mackenzie War Memorial, Fairlie, 2016 additions (as J. A. HARNETT)

Biographical Notes

John Harnett was the older son of Timothy (Tim) Harnett and his first wife, Elizabeth née Kain, of Fairlie. He was born on 20 July 1886 at Fairlie and baptised on 29 August 1886 in the Timaru Roman Catholic Parish. His father was one of the early contractors for the Mount Cook Road Board which achieved great things in providing roads. An early settler in Fairlie, he acquired the accommodation licence of the Silverstream (Kimbell) Hotel in 1886, and in the same year he was a steward at the Fairlie Jockey Club races. He served on the first committee for Kimbell School when it opened in 1886, and was also responsible for the lay-out of the grounds. During the 1890s he was a judge of step-dancing for the Mackenzie Caledonian Society. John’s mother died on 18 April 1889, just 23 years old. She left three little children – John, Honorah (Nora) and William. Timothy Harnett was sued at the Fairlie Magistrate’s Court in March 1900, for arrears of maintenance charges for the care of his three children since 1889. After considerable evidence was given, judgment was given in his favour. In 1906, Timothy Harnett married Winifred Wade (née Gallen), a widow with eight children and six step-children. In January 1916, Timothy sold his farm at Fairlie, and livestock and implements.

John attended Fairlie School. He played in the Fairlie football team for the President's Trophy in the Seven-a-Side Tournament on 24 May 1907. The following month he represented Fairlie against Cricklewood. In 1908 the name of John Angus Harnett was struck off the Geraldine Electoral Roll. He was one of nearly 300 whose notices sent by registered letter had been returned. He was enrolled as John Angus Harnett, a labourer at Winchester, on the 1905 Geraldine Roll. In 1911 he was a shepherd at Fairlie.

When John Harnett enlisted in August 1914, he was a farmer for C. Talbot, Fairlie, single and Roman Catholic. He named Timothy Harnett of Fairlie as his next-of-kin. He departed with the Mounted Men by the slow train from Timaru on 17 August 1914, amidst much excitement in the town, whilst their horses were trucked at the Smithfield siding, Waimataitai. The Mayor spoke of the pride in them and said that they were going forward with stout hearts and strong arms. “Be true lads to your King and Empire, to yourselves and your country, and put your trust in God,” he said. They proceeded to Christchurch where they comprised the South Canterbury Squadron.

Having embarked with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles of the Main Body at Lyttelton on 16 October 1914, he disembarked at Alexandria on 3 December. It was 9 May 1915 when he landed at the Dardanelles. On 10 August 1915 he was admitted to hospital, suffering from gastro enteritis and dysentery. Discharged on 24 August he was attached to Base Details at Zeitoun on light duties and was receiving medical attention each morning at sick Parade. Subsequently he was recommended for change to New Zealand, which was approved on 13 September.

In the event John Harnett saw little over a year of overseas service, being invalided to New Zealand on 23 September 1915. On 31 October 1915, No. 7/58 Trooper John Harnett, Canterbury Mounted Rifles, arrived back home, one of the sick and wounded hospital cases (some of them cot cases), arriving at Port Chalmers by the “Willochra”. On stepping from the train at Fairlie, in torrential rain, he was cheered vociferously; he and his comrades were welcomed and thanked for the fine work they had done for the Empire. They were invited to a public social later in the week, for which a good musical programme, games and dances had been arranged. There would be an opportunity for the soldiers to renew acquaintances and receive congratulations from their friends and admirers.

They were also invited to a social organised by the Fairlie Presbyterian Bible Class. Trooper J. Harnett was one of five returning Fairlie soldiers, some or all of them on sick leave, who were heartily welcomed by members of the Bible class, church members and friends. The Rev Craig, in welcoming them, said that the greatest honour that could be conferred upon them was to be welcomed by those representing the Christian Church. They were not only pleased to see them back but proud of what they had done. Every Sunday during their absence they had all been remembered in prayers. Mr Isitt welcomed them on behalf of the session, saying he was glad that none of the Fairlie boys had disgraced the colours or “funked” in any way. Musical items and games were enjoyed, and refreshments provided. The evening closed with the singing of the National Anthem.

A medical examination on 31 January 1916 at Timaru determined that he had been rendered unfit for further service while fighting on Gallipoli. As his was the only entry for the Returned Soldiers' Race at the Cave District Carnival in March 1916, John was awarded the prize. Three cheers for him were “given with a will”. He was discharged in New Zealand on 4 August 1916, being no longer physically fit for War Service on account of the illness he contracted on Active Service.

John married Emily Gladys Pickering in 1918. John, a ploughman, and Emily were residing at Weston near Oamaru in 1919. They had a son, Edward John Harnett, born in 1918. What became of Edward? John Angus Harnett died on 30 January 1923 at Dunedin Hospital, aged 36 years. His death was a result of his war service – classified in Section 2 - Died after discharge. He was buried at Timaru, with the infant daughter of his brother William. His funeral was attended by returned soldiers and his grave is marked with a services headstone. The name of J. A. Harnett is inscribed on the ‘additions plaque’ at the Fairlie War Memorial. After John's death Emily married Patrick Casserly in 1929 and died in 1984 in Dunedin. The War Graves form was prepared on 23 February 1923, and on 31 December 1923 he was deemed eligible for the plaque. His medals - 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal - were issued after his death. Trooper John Harnett is remembered on the Timaru Memorial Wall (HARNETT J. A.) and the Mackenzie War Memorial at Fairlie (J. A. HARNETT, 2016 additions).

John's brother William Harnett also served in World War One. His step-brother William Wade, who was killed in action in 1917, was awarded the Military Medal and D.C.M.; another step-brother, Edward James Wade, was awarded the Military Medal; and a third step-brother, Hugh Joseph Wade, also served in World War One. Thus Timothy and Winifred (formerly Wade) Harnett between them had five sons serving.

In further asides, £1 was collected from Mr Tim Harnett of Fairlie for the Distress in Ireland fund, in early 1917, and in 1921 ten shillings towards the Irish Relief Fund. In June 1918, T. Harnett of the Mackenzie district, gave 2 shillings 6 pence to the Prisoners of War Fund. He had earlier donated to the Roundhill Relief fund. His second wife, Mrs Winifred Harnett, from County Tyrone, Ireland, was accidentally killed at Waimataitai, Timaru on 6 June 1922 when her she fell from the trap in which she was riding after the horse shied. She owned property in Timaru in her own right, which property (house, sections, furniture, piano) she bequeathed to her husband Timothy Harnett. She had signed her will prior to the birth of her child Mary Winifred Clare Harnett in 1909. Timothy Harnett, from County Limerick, Ireland, died on 20 November 1936 at Fairlie. He was survived by his younger son, William, his daughter of his first marriage, Nora, and his daughter of his second marriage, Mary (Mrs Keenan). Signing his will not long before his death, Timothy appointed his step-son, Edward Wade, as executor and trustee, Edward in turn appointing the Public Trustee as executor, and he bequeathed all his estate to his daughter, Mary Winifred Clare Keenan.


Auckland War Memorial Cenotaph Database [06 November 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5539 0050802) [25 June 2014]; Timaru Cemetery headstone image (Timaru District Council) [06 November 2013]; NZ BDM indexes (NZ Department of Internal Affairs historical records) [04 May 2014; 30 December 2020]; School Admission Record (South Canterbury Branch NZSG transcriptions); Temuka Leader, 22 March 1900, 8 June 1922, Timaru Herald, 24 May 1907, 14 June 1907, 2 July 1908, 15 & 18 August 1914, 21 October 1915, 1, 3 & 5 November 1915, 24 January 1916, 18 March 1916, 16 February 1918 [J. WADE], 27 June 1918, 7 June 1922, Press, 24 August 1914, Sun, 5 September 1914, Evening Post, 19 October 1915, Ashburton Guardian, 20 October 1915, Otago Daily Times, 25 October 1915, 26 November 1936, New Zealand Herald, 29 October 1915, Star, 30 October 1915, New Zealand Tablet, 11 January 1917, 8 September 1921, 22 June 1922 (Papers Past) [02 & 06 November 2013; 06 May 2014; 20 June 2014; 03 July 2015; 13 September 2015; 01 May 2016; 26 & 27 October 2020; 16 February 2021]; Timaru Herald, 1 February 1923 (Timaru District Library) [05 May 2014]; NZ BDM indexes (NZ Department of Internal Affairs historical records) [04 May 2014]; School Admission Records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG); NZ Electoral Rolls ( [04 May 2014]; Christchurch Catholic Diocese Baptisms Index CD (held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [13 September 2015]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC brnach NZSG

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