DUKE, Francis
(Service number 24/412)

Aliases Francis Holy, Frank
First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 17 March 1888 Place of Birth Greymouth

Enlistment Information

Date 30 May 1915 Age 27 years 2 months
Address at Enlistment Victoria Hotel, Cromwell
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin William DUKE (brother), Omihi, North Canterbury
Religion Unitarian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 5½ inches. Weight 139 lbs. Chest measurement 32-34 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue grey. Hair light. Eyes both 6/6. Hearing good. Colour vision normal. Limbs and chest well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth - some good, some bad. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects (except teeth).

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 2nd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship B Company
Date 9 October 1915
Transport Maunganui or Tahiti or Aparima or Navua or Warrimoo
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian; Egyptian Expeditionary Force; Western European
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 27 December 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for War Service on account of Advanced Tuberculi of the Lungs contracted on Active Service.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

8 February 1917 - wounded in action - not a severe case; admitted to hospital with slight gunshot wounds to head & face. 19 January 1918 - wounded in the right thigh; admitted to Casualty Clearing Station in France, & to hospital; February 1918 pogressing favourably. 21/22 June 1918 - admitted to NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst, UK - bronchitis. 31 July 1918 he embarked at Southampton for transfer to Marama at Marseilles, for return home - phthisical.

Post-war Occupations

Rabbiter, labourer


Date 23 December 1963 Age 75 yrs
Place of Death Rannerdale War Veterans Home, Christchurch
Cause Due to war service
Notices Timaru Herald, 26 December 1963
Memorial or Cemetery Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch
Memorial Reference Block 1C, Plot 121
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Francis Duke was the younger son of James Duke(s) and his second wife, Mary née Casserley, and the step-son of Mrs Rachel Dukes. Francis’ mother died in 1888 at Greymouth, aged 29 years. Mr James Duke was a coal miner, which occupation brought him to South Canterbury. In mid 1889 he took the lease of the mine in the Kakahu district where, for some years, it had been known that good coal existed. He was also connected with the opening of lime kilns at Kakahu. Mr Duke, who had worked in most of the New Zealand coal mines and had been a pioneer of the coal industry at Mt Somers, had much experience of colleries in the Old Country. At a meeting held in the school at Woodbury in May 1906, Mr James Duke was called upon to explain the position and prospects of a proposed coal mine to work deposits in the Waihi Gorge. He had made a detailed study and believed the prospects were very promising. The owners of the Te Moana coal mine, open in 1907, secured the services of Mr Duke to make a thorough prospect of their site. He was particular in his work and spoke highly of the samples found. James Duke(s) died on 11 March 1911 at the Timaru Hospital. The family was then living on the corner of Wilson and Cullman streets. He was buried in the Timaru Cemetery. It is apparent that the family moved about a great deal when the children (nine from three marriages) were at school.

Francis Duke, known as Frank, was born as Francis Holey Dukes on 17 March 1888 at Greymouth. The spelling Duke and the name Francis Holy were used thereafter, for school records, electoral rolls and enlistment. He was educated at many schools as his father moved to various mines around the country – Fairfield, Palmerston, Shag Point (all Otago), Fairlie, Kakahu Bush, Geraldine (all South Canterbury), South Malvern, Templeton, Springburn (all Canterbury). Frank's last employer before enlistment was Gudsell Bros, Winchester; but he was residing at the Victoria Hotel in Cromwell, Otago, when he - “Francis Duke (a recent arrival from Timaru)” - responded to a proposal at a recruiting rally on 21 May 1915 in the Athenaeum Hall there.

He enlisted on 30 May 1915, aged 27 years 2 months. He was a labourer, single, and gave his religion as Unitarian. Frank was of relatively small build, standing at 5 feet 5½ inches tall and weighing 139 pounds, with a chest measurement of 32-34 inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes blue grey, and his hair light. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all good, as were his limbs, joints, heart and lungs. His teeth were ‘some good, some bad’. He was free of diseases, was vaccinated, and the only defect was his teeth. He nominated as next-of-kin his brother, William Duke (William Henry Dukes), of Omihi, North Canterbury.

Rifleman Francis Duke embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade at Wellington, destined for Suez, Egypt, on 9 October 1915. In January following he proceeded to Ismailia. In April 1916 he embarked for France where he was attached to the Tunnelling Company. As reported, he was wounded in Action on 8 February 1917. His was said to be a not severe case. He was subsequently admitted to hospital with slight gunshot wounds to his head and face. Mid 1917 he enjoyed a brief Leave. On 8 January 1918 he was wounded again, this time in the right thigh, and was admitted to the Casualty Clearing Station in France. (This appears to be the only occasion when his name appears in the newspapers as Dukes.) Mrs Alice Dukes, William’s wife, became Frank’s next-of-kin when William, himself, went on Active Service. He was again admitted to hospital. On 27 February 1918 he was reported as progressing favourably and on 17 March 1918 he rejoined his unit. On 21/22 June 1918 he was admitted to the New Zealand General Hospital at Brockenhurst, UK, with bronchitis. This too, was not a severe case.

31 July 1918, however, he embarked at Southampton for transfer to the Hospital Ship “Marama” at Marseilles; he was on the “Marama” on 7 August, being phthisical. Returning Draft No. 175 – the “Marama” – arrived in new Zealand in mid September, bringing a large number of invalided soldiers. After 3 years and 214 days of service, the majority of it overseas in Egypt and France, Rifleman Francis Duke, 24/412, was discharged on 27 December 1918, being no longer physically fit for War Service on account of Advanced Tuberculi of the Lungs, contracted on Active Service. He had seen service in Egypt and Western Europe, for which he was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal. After his return home, Frank worked as a rabbiter and a labourer on several stations in South Canterbury before retiring to the Rannerdale Home in Christchurch. Francis Duke (Frank) died on 23 December 1963 at the Rannerdale War Veterans Home, Christchurch, aged 75 years, and is buried in Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch. His death was attributed to his war service with the forces. He was remembered by his sister Beatrice Wallis and her family, and also survived by his half-brother and sister, Ben and Rachel.

Frank’s older brother, William Henry Duke, died of illness on 5 November 1918 in England; his step-brother, Joseph Martin Duke died of wounds on 19 May 1918 in France,. A Roll of Honour notice for Joseph in the Lyttelton Times of 25 May named his brothers Privates W. F. B. and T. Duke, on active service. Five brothers - William, Frank, Joseph, Benjamin and Taylor - were at the front at the same time. Two notices in the Lyttelton Times of 11 November 1918 recorded William as the brother of Mrs Wallis (Beatrice) and Rifleman F. Taylor (returned from service) (Frank); and as the step-son of Mrs R. Dukes (Rachel), and step-brother of Rifleman B. (Ben) and Private T. (Taylor) Dukes (on active service), R. (Rachel) and J. (James John) Dukes and Mrs Garlick (Mary Ellen, Nellie), James and Nellie being issue of the first marriage of James senior. Beatrice and Frank remembered their brother Joseph by an In Memoriam notice in 1920.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Cenotaph Database [29 June 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0035884) [01 July 2014]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [2013; 21 June 2019]; Ruru Lawn Cemetery memorial inscription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG Cemetery Records microfiche) [29 June 2014], Ruru Lawn Cemetery burial records (Christchurch City Council Cemetery Records online) [29 June 2014]; School Admission Records (Dunedin, South Canterbury & Canterbury branches NZSG) [29 & 30 June 2014]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [29 June 2014]; Star, 5 July 1889, Temuka Leader, 17 May 1906, 9 November 1907, Timaru Herald, 13 & 14 March 1911, 25 January 1918, Otago Daily Times, 22 May 1915, 20 February 1917, Evening Star, 22 May 1915, Cromwell Argus, 24 May 1915, Ashburton Guardian, 20 February 1917, Evening Post, 20 February 1917, 28 June 1918, 7 September 1918, New Zealand Times, 24 January 1918, North Otago Times, 25 January 1918, Lyttelton Times, 25 May 1918, 11 November 1918, 18 May 1920, Sun, 7 September 1918 (Papers Past) [14 November 2013; 30 June 2014; 21, 22, 24 & 26 June 2019]; Timaru Herald, 26 December 1963 (Timaru District Library) [13 June 2016]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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