TANGNEY, Walter Bernard
(Service number 18871)

Aliases Walter George
First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 8 May 1898 Place of Birth Temuka

Enlistment Information

Date 28 January 1915 Age 17
Address at Enlistment Te Aroa
Occupation Farm labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin J. Tangney (father), Temuka, Canterbury, New Zealand
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information

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 15th Reinforcements Auckland Infantry Battalion, A Company
Date 26 July 1916
Transport Waitemata or Ulimaroa
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Devonport, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns France
Service Medals No medals issued
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 7 March 1918 Reason Declared a deserter after a court of enquiry held on 30 March 1918.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Hospitalised March 1917 with mumps; 27 Decemeber 1917 with dysentry and left hospital in Hornchurch on 6 February 1918 to return to Codford camp, but never turned up. Court of Enquiry (COE) declared him a deserter

Post-war Occupations


Date 26 January 1964 Age 66
Place of Death
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials St Patrick's (Waimate) Memorial list (June 2015)

Biographical Notes

Son of Jeremiah and Margaret (Maggie) Tangney (m.1883). Walter's other brothers who enlisted were: Francis Patrick, Robert Edward, Patrick William, and William Patrick. Two step brothers, Tom and John Tagney, also enlisted but were reported as killed in action. Their parents are buried in Temuka Cemetery along with Jeremiah's first wife, Ellen, three daughters Cissie (Catherine), Gertrude and Lucy Anastasia, plus a son, Jeremiah. Other brothers who did not serve were: Joseph, Michael James, and two Jeremiah's. Note though that on 24 March 1887 the Timaru Herald reported Jeremiah (snr) was fined for not registering births of his children, so not all his children's names are recorded.

Walter falsified his birth date as 27 April 1896 (or 1895) and altered his name to Walter George in order to join up with brother William Patrick. His family advised the army he was underage and he was discharged, resulting in no record of this enlistment. Walter then moved up to Auckland and enlisted there, again under the false age. He was sent to England but after several hospital visits, he deserted in March 1918, which is why no medals were issued to him.

Walter was called up in the ballot during World War Two, where he gave is correct age and name - i.e. Walter Bernard. He was sent to camp in March 1941 but was eventual discharged as being unfit for camp and not fit for home guard. His story came to light when his brother William Patrick wrote to the army in 1964 asking for his serial number so this could be put on his grave following Walter's death in 1964. It was then realised that he had registered under two different names. Walter never married and his next of kin was given as Winifred McGrath, his niece.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph database (May 2015); Archives New Zealand; New Zealand BDM Historical Records online; Timaru District Council Cemetery Database online at; Waimate Cemetery records; Commonwealth War Graves Commission website; Paperspast - Timaru Herald 21 May 1918

External Links

Related Documents

Researched and Written by

Tony Rippin (South Canterbury Museum); Liz Shea, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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