KELLY, William
(Service number 25/1766)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 23 December 1891 Place of Birth Waimate, N.Z.

Enlistment Information

Date 15 December 1915 Age 24 years 11 months
Address at Enlistment 21 Brougham Street, Sydenham, Christchurch
Occupation Engine driver
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin William KELLY (father), Waimate, South Canterbury. Later of Villa Maria, Riccarton, Christchurch
Religion Church of England (Roman Catholic?)
Medical Information Height 5 feet 10 inches. Weight 160 lbs. Chest measurement 34-38 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes grey. Hair dark. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth fair. 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 New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 2nd Reinforcements 3rd Battalion, G Company
Date 1 April 1916
Transport Maunganui or Tahiti
Embarked From Wellington, N.Z. Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 4th Battalion

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals 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

12 September 1916 - Wounded - fractured humerus & right forearm

Post-war Occupations


Date 12 September 1916 Age 24 years
Place of Death France,2nd New Zealand Field Ambulance
Cause Died of wounds
Memorial or Cemetery Millencourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France
Memorial Reference E. 6.
New Zealand Memorials On Memorial wall, Timaru; Waimate War Memorial

Biographical Notes

William Kelly – Rifleman 25/1766 - was the adopted son of William and Elizabeth Kelly, of Waimate. Born on 23 December 1891 at Waimate and baptised on 19 February 1896 in the Catholic Church there, he appears to be their only child. William’s mother died in 1911 and is buried in the Old Waimate Cemetery, where his father was laid to rest in 1931.

William, junior, registered for the forces on 2 June 1915 at Timaru, while still living at Waimate, and enlisted on 15 December, by which time he was residing in Sydenham, Christchurch and was employed as an engine driver. He was a well built young man and in good physical condition. He embarked for Egypt as a rifleman with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 1 April 1916. Some weeks later he marched in at Etaples and in June was posted to C Company 4th Battalion.

Less than 5½ months elapsed between William's embarkation and his death. On 12 September 1916 he died at the 2nd New Zealand Field Ambulance in the field of the wounds he had received that day in the field in France. William had suffered a fractured humerus and right forearm. This occurred at the outset of the New Zealand artillery’s action in the Somme on the Western Front and at the beginning of what was to result in massive loss of life. “Morale was high, but the soldiers did not know what to expect.” ( Rifleman William Kelly was not even going to find out. He was laid to rest in the Millencourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.

About 1919 his father had moved to Christchurch where he was the gardener at the Villa Maria Convent in Riccarton. It was there that he received his son’s medals – 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal - plus plaque and scroll. And there that he died in 1931, his nearest living relative being his brother Larry in Queensland. William, senior, bequeathed all his property and savings to his brother and to the church, with the stipulation that a headstone be erected over his wife’s grave.

The name W. Kelly is inscribed on the Timaru War Memorial Wall and on the Waimate War Memorial. Sadly, it appears that there was no one in South Canterbury, nay in New Zealand, to remember and honour W. Kelly, 25/1766.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [03 August 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5541 0063393) [14 November 2014]; CWGC [20 February 2014]; Timaru Herald, 3 June 1915, 25 September 1916, North Otago Times, 25 & 26 September 1916 (Papers Past) [20 & 23 February 2014; 12 October 2015]; Old Waimate Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [30 March 2016]; Waimate cemetery burial records (Waimate District Council) [30 March 2016]; Probate record for father William Kelly (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [29 March 2016]; Battle of the Somme, page 3, New Zealand's Somme Experience (,nz) [09 June 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [2013]; full baptism record (St Patrick's Parish, Waimate) [08 December 2016]

External Links

Related Documents

No documents available.

Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to


Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Logo. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.

Tell us more

Do you have information that could be added to this story? Or related images that you are happy to share? Submit them here!

Your Details
Veteran Details
- you may attach an image or document up to 10MB