(Service number 10/3447)

First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 22 October 1891 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 24 August 1915 Age 23 years 10 months
Address at Enlistment Masonic Hotel, Waitara
Occupation Carpenter
Previous Military Experience 2nd South Canterbury Regiment - serving
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Peter SINCLAIR (father), Bank Street, Timaru
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 9 inches. Weight 152 lbs. Chest measurement 35-39½ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair brown. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing & colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth efficient. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No illnesses. No fits. Brown mole on front right thigh.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 8th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Wellington Infantry Battalion
Date 13 November 1915
Transport Willochra or Tofua
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Infantry

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian; Egyptian Expeditionary Force; Western European
Service Medals 1914-1915 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 6 June 1919 Reason On Termination of Period of Engagement.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

23 January 1916 - admitted to NZ General Hospital at Abbassaia - sick with influenza; week later angina; month later ulcerated throat (ulcer on left tonsil). 19 March 1916 - admitted to hospital (VDC). 24 March 1916 - admitted to hospital – sick; 30 March discharged. 23 June 1917 - admitted to NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst – gunshot wound to groin; 2 July 1917 - transferred to Convalescent Depot at Hornchurch. 7 January 1917 - admitted to 25th General Hospital, Hardelot - slight impetigo; few days earlier to hospital - sick in the Field. 9 June 1917 - admitted to 24 General Hospital, France - ICT of foot; 23 June 1917 - embarked for England per “Brighton” & admitted to NZ General Hospital at Walton; 2 July transferred to NZ Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch. Wounded in Messines offensive; admitted to NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst, England - gunshot wound in groin. 12 July 1917 hospital progress report - removed from the seriously ill list. By 19 July removed to Hornchurch convalescent hospital. 1 September left Hornchurch. 9 November 1917 - admitted to General Hospital at Codford - boils. 30 May 1918 - to hospital – sick; 5 June 1918 rejoined his battalion in France from Field Ambulance.

Post-war Occupations



Date 26 February 1939 Age 47 years
Place of Death Military Annexe, Auckland Hospital
Cause Generalised toxaemia; tuberculosis kidneys intestines and epididynes; pulmonary tuberculosis.
Notices Timaru Herald, 28 February 1939; Auckland Star, 27 February 1939; New Zealand Herald, 28 February 1939
Memorial or Cemetery Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland
Memorial Reference Service Persons Area D, Row 3, Plot 43
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

David Sinclair was born on 22 October 1891 at Timaru, the fifth son (fourth surviving) of Peter and Catherine (née Ferguson) Sinclair. Peter and Catherine who were both born in Scotland and had married in 1871 at Timaru, had thirteen children, all born at Timaru (Bank Street), several being honoured with a newspaper announcement. Their first-born, Peter, died in 1877 at the age of five. Later, there were marriage announcements for some of the daughters and sons, often to locals and in the Presbyterian churches.

Along with his siblings, David attended Timaru Main School. He did well in his schooling. At the Timaru Main School prize distribution in 1898, he received a Class A, Proficiency prize, his sister May and brother Robert also receiving recognition. In 1900 it was a Standard IV (or Standard II) certificate of merit, 1st class. At the school sports in December 1901, D. Sinclair finished second in the Egg and Spoon Race, under 11 (50 yds). Later in the month at the prize-giving, he received a First-class certificate of merit for Standard III. In 1902 he was awarded a Standard IV Certificate of Merit – First Class. The distribution of prizes took place in the Theatre Royal, and “whether it was the novelty of the scene adopted, or the fact that Lady Ranfurly was to grace the proceedings by her presence and to give out the prizes, it may be difficult to say, probably both; at any rate there has never been such a large attendance of spectators of the ceremony.” 1904 and David again earned a First-class certificate of merit, this time for Standard VI. In October 1906 he gained first class certificates in English and arithmetic at the technical classes. David continued his education at the Timaru Boys’ High School. In December 1906, David Sinclair (Timaru B.H.S.) passed the examination for a Civil Service Senior free place. David Sinclair was successful in the examinations at the close of the Timaru Technical School session in October 1907, gaining first-class passes in Algebra (elementary) and Building construction. In the latter, he won the valuable prize given to the student gaining the highest marks in that class. He was one of the successful candidates who secured certificates at the examinations conducted at the close of the Timaru Technical School in 1909, his being for building construction, second-class.

D. Sinclair finished first, and earned 10 shillings, in the 100 yards handicap race for boys under 15 at the South Canterbury Caledonian Society’s gathering on New Years Day 1903. His father was one of the directors for the sports. The next month, David competed in the 50 yards school boys’ race held at the Century Swimming Baths. In February 1908 he competed in the 50 yards Junior Handicap and in the 100 yards cub Race at the baths, and later in the month in the 100 yards Inter-club Handicap, finishing second in his heat. When the Timaru Boys’ High School held their swimming sports at the Century Commemoration Baths on 12 March 1908, David taking out first place in the Old Boys’ Race (100 yards). He kept up his swimming through 1909, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, finishing second in the Timaru Amateur Swimming Club’s senior race in 1910, and he was back at the Caledonian Games in 1910, competing in the One Mile Amateur Handicap. D. Sinclair competed in the Old Boys’ race at the Timaru Boys’ High School annual swimming sports held in March 1910, coming home in third place, while his youngest brother, William, competed as a student. The first sports carnival under the auspices of the Caroline Bay Association was held on 15 February 1912, the Caroline Bay Swimming Club providing “a capital programme for the afternoon of the official opening.” The first race of the day was the 50 yards interclub, in the final of which D. Sinclair came away in the last five yards to win by about a yard and earn for himself £2.2s. Later in the month he was a member of the winning Caroline Bay No. 1 relay team. In January he won the club’s 75 yards race in the harbour.

David enlisted on 24 August 1915 at Trentham. He belonged to the 2nd South Canterbury Regiment and he had registered for compulsory military training at Timaru. A carpenter residing at the Masonic Hotel, Waitara, single and Presbyterian, he named his father as next-of-kin – Peter Sinclair, 27 Bank Street, Timaru. David was, indeed, a carpenter at Waitara in 1914. He stood at 5 feet 9 inches, weighed 152 pounds., and had a chest measurement of 35-39½ inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes blue and his hair brown. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all normal, as were his heart and lungs; his limbs and chest were well formed; and his teeth were efficient. Being free of diseases, slight defects, illnesses and fits, and being vaccinated, he was in good bodily and mental health. There was a brown mole on front right thigh.

By 1 September 1915, the Eighth Reinforcements had settled down to camp life at Trentham and the work of drilling theme was proceeding vigorously. But it may be that Private David Sinclair was transferred to camp near police. Private D. Sinclair embarked with the Wellington Infantry Battalion of the 8th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington on 13 November 1915, and disembarking at Suez, Egypt on 20 December.

While abroad, David Sinclair had a few trips to hospital for various causes. He was admitted to the New Zealand General Hospital at Abbassaia on 23 January 1916, sick with influenza. The following week the diagnosis was angina, but he was improving. A month later it was an ulcerated throat (ulcer on left tonsil). On 19 March 1916 he was again admitted to hospital (VDC), having joined his battalion at Ismailia just the day before. He was admitted to hospital on 24 March 1916, sick, and, discharged on 30 March, he joined the 2nd Battalion at Moascar on 8 April and embarked for France.

In January 1917, Mr P. Sinclair, Bank Street, received word that his son, 10/3447, D. Sinclair, had been admitted to 25th General Hospital, Hardelot, on January 7th, suffering from slight impetigo. He had been sent to hospital, sick in the Field, a few days earlier. He was transferred to the Base Depot in France over two weeks later. As of April 1917, he was permanently employed at NZ ICBD. Come 9 June 1917 and he was admitted to 24 General Hospital, France, with slight ICT of foot. He embarked for England per the “Brighton” on 23 June and was admitted to the NZ General Hospital at Walton, then transferred to the NZ Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch on 2 July.

It was in early July 1917 that Mr Peter Sinclair, of 27 Bank Street, Timaru, received word that his son, Private David Sinclair, had been admitted to the New Zealand General Hospital at Brockenhurst, England, suffering from a gunshot wound in the groin. He had been wounded at the Messines offensive. By the hospital progress report published on 12 July 1917, D. Sinclair had been removed from the seriously ill list. According to a cable received on 19 July, he had been removed to Hornchurch convalescent hospital. Leaving Hornchurch on 1 September he was to report at Codford on 17 September. On 9 November 1917 he was admitted to the General Hospital at Codford with boils. Having marched out from Codford on 27 February 1918, he proceeded overseas and rejoined his unit in the Field from the UK on 4 March 1918. He rejoined his battalion in France from the Field Ambulance on 5 June 1918, after going sick to hospital on 30 May. He went to the UK on leave on 31 December 1918.

On several occasions in 1916 and 1917 punishments came his way. He forfeited 4 days’ ordinary pay when he was late for Parade on 21 August 1916. He received 24 days field punishment and forfeited the balance of 24 days ordinary pay for a series of offences over 23 and 24 November 1916 in France – absence without leave from parade; absence when warned to appear at orderly room; two further absences without leave from parade. Again on 7 March 1917, when on active service at Etaples, he was absent from parade and forfeited pay. On 29 July 1917 at Hornchurch, he was absent without leave, forfeiting pay and being confined to barracks for 4 days. He was absent without leave from Codford on 20 October 1917 until he was apprehended in Princes Street, Edinburgh on 4 November. This resulted in loss of pay and an order to pay costs.

In his last year of service abroad, David Sinclair incurred several more penalties – interspersed with his hospital visits. He was absent without leave at Codford from 9 February 1918 until he surrendered himself on 22 February, and he was in possession of an irregular pass. He received 14 days detention and 14 days without pay, but on proceeding overseas, he was released after nine days and the detention was remitted. On 22 June 1918, again at Codford, he was absent from his billet after 9.30 pm, incurring 4 days field punishment. Then, on 28 February 1919 at Sling, while on active service, he was absent without leave, for which he forfeited several days pay.

D. Sinclair, 10/3447, of Timaru, returned to New Zealand per the “Kia Ora”, embarking at Liverpool on 27 March 1919, the draft being due at Lyttelton on 7 May 1919. He was in the contingent of South Canterbury soldiers who came from Christchurch by a special train and were welcomed home on 9 May 1919. A great crowd gathered at the station and cheered loudly when they arrived. The soldiers expressed their appreciation to the ladies who gave them fruit and cigarettes. The Mayor congratulated the soldiers on their heroic achievements abroad, thanked them on behalf of the whole community and expressed the hope that they would soon regain their health, before calling for three hearty cheers for them. Mr Craigie, M.P., said that all were proud of what they had done in the struggle for liberty and freedom, and expressed the hope that “they would have many happy years in this prosperous land”.

He was discharged on 6 June 1919, on the termination of his term of engagement. He had served for well over three years in Egypt and Western Europe and was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. In September 1919 David Sinclair gave £5 to the War Memorial Fund. Resuming his carpentry trade, David lived briefly at home in Timaru, before moving to Auckland. David Sinclair married Florence Christie Knowles, of Timaru, at Epsom Presbyterian Church, Auckland, on 3 November 1924.

David died on 26 February 1939 at the Auckland Hospital Military Annexe, aged 47 years. His family recall that he died of a lung infection, ultimately resulting from damage to his lungs by exposure to mustard gas during his service in World War One. His personnel file records the cause of death as “Generalised toxaemia; Tuberculosis kidneys intestines and epididynes; Pulmonary tuberculosis”. He was buried in the Soldiers Section of Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland. He was survived by Florence who died nearly fifty years later at the age of 95, and six young children. His estate – Auckland Savings Bank Account £160, Interest in estate of Peter Sinclair £60 – was administered by the Public Trust.

On the outbreak of war, P. Sinclair contributed one guinea to the South Canterbury War Fund. Mrs P. Sinclair gifted the Chalmers Guild socks for the Red Cross Fund in October 1915. In May 1917, both Mrs P. Sinclair, Bank St, and Peter Sinclair gave 10 shillings and sixpence to the Plunket Nurse motor car fund. In September 1919, Peter Sinclair donated £5 to the War Memorial Fund. And in September 1921 he paid 10 shillings to the Dorgan Fund. In August 1927, his £1 subscription was to the Unemployment Relief Fund.

Mrs Catherine Sinclair died on 22 August 1922 at her Bank Street residence. Just four weeks later, William Bruce Sinclair, the youngest son of Peter and Catherine, died at Christchurch. His funeral was held at Timaru and he was laid to rest at Timaru with his mother and baby brother. In early September 1927, a few of the directors of the Pioneer Terminating Building Society waited on Mr Peter Sinclair at his Bank Street home, He had retired from the directorate after 19 years. He was made a small presentation and wished good health and happiness. His second daughter, Catherine Fleming, died in 1933 at Dunedin. Peter Sinclair celebrated his ninetieth birthday on 31 March 1936. He had come out to New Zealand in about 1869 and settled in Timaru. He had served in the Dundee Rifles, a premier Scottish regiment; in New Zealand his sons were volunteers. Catherine Ferguson had accompanied him to New Zealand and they lived all their lives in Bank Street, probably at only two sites. Family members living locally were able to visit him on his special day, including John who lived at Ashburton. David and Lake were not able to be present, David living in Auckland and Lake in Christchurch probably not fit. For much of his time at Timaru he had worked as a blacksmith for the Timaru Harbour Board and was responsible for many of the harbour defences. His son Lake died in September 1936 at Christchurch. Peter was still enjoying good health when he celebrated his ninety-second birthday on 31 March 1938, receiving many congratulatory telegrams from relatives and well-wishers. On 15 June 1938, Mr Peter Sinclair died at his residence, 43 Bank Street, Timaru, and was buried at Timaru with Catherine and his sons Peter and William.

The two brothers younger than David – Lake Sinclair and William Bruce Sinclair – both served overseas in World War One, and both died relatively young as a consequence of their service. An older brother, John Sinclair, enlisted but saw no service; while the oldest surviving brother, Thomas Bell Jones Sinclair, and the third surviving brother, Robert Albert Sinclair, were both listed in the Reserve Rolls. Robert’s only son, Peter Sutherland Sinclair, served in World War Two and died a war pensioner at the young age of 31 years.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [10 September 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives ref. AABK 18805 W5553 0105161) [09 November 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [12 November 2016]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [2013]; Waikumete Cemetery records (Auckland Council) [05 September 2014]; Timaru Cemetery records (Timaru District Council); Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [26 June 2016]; Timaru Herald, 4 & 26 March 1878, 25 March 1880, 14 November 1881, 1 December 1881, 3 & 19 June 1884, 10 May 1886, 16 December 1898, 22 May 1899, 14 December 1900, 6 & 20 December 1901, 19 December 1902, 2 January 1903, 9 February 1903, 25 June 1904, 16 December 1904, 25 February 1905, 6 October 1906, 31 January 1907, 29 October 1907, 12, 26 & 28 February 1908, 13 March 1908, 10 February 1909, 11 March 1909, 8 November 1909, 3 January 1910, 11 & 14 February 1910, 10 & 11 March 1910, 19 August 1910, 29 January 1912, 16 & 29 February 1912, 1 March 1912, 7 & 8 January 1913, 11 August 1914, 10 April 1915, 28 May 1915, 15 October 1915, 25 January 1917, 29 May 1917, 9, 12 & 20 July 1917, 30 April 1919, 10 May 1919, 22 & 25 September 1919, 20 September 1921, 23 August 1922, 16 January 1924, 11 August 1927, 9 September 1927, 1 April 1938, 16 June 1938, Temuka Leader, 31 January 1907, New Zealand Times, 26 April 1919, Press, 16 June 1938, Auckland Star, 27 February 1939, New Zealand Herald, 28 February 1939 (Papers Past) [17 July 2016; 08 November 2016; 21 & 27 June 1919; 24 May 2022; 07 & 29 June 2022; 18 July 2022; 16 August 2022; 02 & 05 February 2023]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [5 September 2014; 12 November 2016; 02 February 2023]; Timaru Herald, 28 February 1939 (Timaru District Library) [07 November 2016]; SCRoll web submission, 12 May 2020

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