(Service number 32396)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Private


Date 11 July 1893 Place of Birth Timaru, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 26 July 1916 Age 23 years
Address at Enlistment 27 Bank Street, Timaru
Occupation Farm Hand
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin P SINCLAIR (father) 27 Bank Street, Timaru
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 11¼ inches. Weight 137 lbs. Chest measurement 33-36½ inches. Complexion florid. Eyes blue. Hair flaxen. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing good. Colour vision normal. Limbs (thin) & chest (slightly flat) well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Heart & lungs normal. Appendicitis - 12 months since operation; cured. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Scar of operation wound for appendicitis (right side lower abdomen). (This man was deferred 3 months for pers…. . . . . . – he has improved in that time)

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation NZ Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 10th Reinforcements, 3rd Battalion, G Company
Date 15 November 1916
Transport Tahiti; returned home on the Maunganui 17 May 1919
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Plymouth, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Infantry Regiment

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 21 July 1919 Reason On the termination of period of Engagement.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Farmer; storehand


Date 23 September 1936 Age 43 years
Place of Death Christchurch
Cause Pulmonary Tuberculosis
Notices Timaru Herald. 24 September 1936; Press. 24 September 1936
Memorial or Cemetery Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch
Memorial Reference Blk 10, Plot No 469
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Lake Sinclair was born on 11 July 1893 at Bank Street, Timaru, the sixth son (fifth 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, Lake attended Timaru Main School. There at the 1901 prize-giving, he received a First-class Certificate for Standard I Boys. In 1902 he was awarded a Standard II Certificate of Merit – First Class. 1904 and Lake again earned a First-class certificate of merit, this time for Standard IV. His 1905 prize was for 2nd place in Standard V. Lake played a main part in the Timaru Main School’s entertainment given in the Theatre Royal on 26 July 1906. He was Mr Johnson in an old-fashioned Christy-Minstrel entertainment, while his brother William was in one of the choruses. Lake continued his education at Timaru Boys’ High School, where in December 1908 he passed the Senior Free Place Examination. In October 1910 at the Timaru Technical School, Lake Sinclair was awarded certificates of merit for first class in First Year English and second class in Commercial Arithmetic and Shorthand.

There was a large attendance of children, parents and friends at Chalmers Presbyterian Church on 16 October 1904 to witness the annual distribution of prizes. Both Lake and William Sinclair appeared on the prize list. The next year there was again a large attendance on Children’s Day when the prizes won in the Sunday School examination were distributed, Lake Sinclair receiving his for the Junior division. It was impressed upon all “to read their Bibles diligently, and to make home study of it a special feature.” His name was heard again at Chalmers Church on 21 October 1906 when the results of the Sabbath School examinations were announced, Lake receiving a prize.

Lake, too, competed in swimming events, entering in the Timaru Rowing Club’s swimming carnival at the Century Commemoration Baths on 27 February 1908, he and Willie in the 50 yards Junior Handicap where Lake gained a medal for first placing. The Timaru Boys’ High School held their swimming sports at the Century Commemoration Baths on 12 March 1908, Lake taking out first place in the Junior Championship 50 yards. He also competed in the 25 yards. He featured at the Swimming Club’s carnival in March 1909 and February 1911. He was one of two Timaru amateurs present at the Oamaru Carnival at the beginning of March 1911, gaining third place in the 100 yards event. A week later, at the Timaru Boys’ High School swimming sports at the Century Baths, he swam second in a very close finish in the Old Boys’ race. L. Sinclair was a committee official at the Timaru Amateur Swimming Club’s carnival in late February 1912. He competed in the Caroline Bay Club’s mile race on 2 February 1914, with a 3-minute handicap. At the Boys’ High School annual athletic sports in March 1908, David Sinclair finished second of six competitors in the Junior Steeplechase. Sinclair was also the winner of the open Mile race and the Half-mile race – was this Lake? About the same time his older brother Robert featured in athletics at Ashburton.

L. Sinclair registered in South Canterbury in the last week of April 1916. When he was medically examined on 8 July 1916, he stood at 5 feet 11¼ inches, weighed 137pounds, had a chest measurement of 33-36½ inches, a florid complexion, blue eyes and flaxen hair. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all good, his heart and lungs normal, and his limbs (thin) and chest (slightly flat) well formed. He had had appendicitis - 12 months since operation; cured. He was free of diseases and fits, was vaccinated, and was in good bodily and mental health. He bore the scar of his operation wound for appendicitis (right side lower abdomen). (This man was deferred 3 months for pers…. . . . . . – he has improved in that time.)

South Canterbury’s quota for the Nineteenth Reinforcements left for camp on 26 July 1916. The South Canterbury military district was congratulated on being able to send forward a full quota – 104 men, including L. Sinclair. A civic farewell took place – luncheon in Stafford Tea Rooms and speeches at the Drill Shed. So, he enlisted on 27 July 1916 at Trentham, stating that he had previously been 33% rejected as unfit for the military forces. Although his given address was 27 Bank Street, Timaru, he was a farm hand at Westerfield where he had been residing in 1914. Single and Presbyterian, he named his father as next-of-kin – P. Sinclair, 27 Bank Street, Timaru. Rifleman L. Sinclair embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 3rd Battalion, 10th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington for England, per the “Tahiti” on 15 November 1916 and disembarking at Devonport on 29 January 1917. He marched in to Sling on 30 January 1917 and marched out to the 4th New Zealand Infantry Brigade at Codford on 30 March. It was as Private that he proceeded overseas to France on 28 May 1917. He spent more than three weeks the School of Instruction in December 1917-January 1918. He went to the UK on leave in the UK in late February 1918, rejoining his unit three weeks later.

L. Sinclair, 32396, of Timaru, returned to New Zealand for demobilization, one of 1128 soldiers aboard the “Maunganui”, leaving from Liverpool on 17 May 1919. The South Canterbury men arrived in Timaru by special train from Dunedin on 23 June. Although “a bleak wind and a cold driving rain” greeted them, a very large gathering of family and friends afforded them a warm welcome. The Mayor and local M.P. were waiting to address the soldiers but the “surging mass of civilians” made this impossible. Among those who detrained at Timaru was Private L. Sinclair. He was discharged on 21 July 1919, having served for well over two years in Western Europe, and was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

In early 1918, Mrs W. Smith, of Glen-iti, had received letters from two soldiers at the front, in which they referred to the death in action of her son James. They stated that her son’s death was a great blow to all of them. In him they had lost one of their bravest comrades, and he had been a great favourite and never tired of doing anyone a good turn. One soldier wrote as follows: “I had known Jimmy since he joined us, and had always been good friends with him. In fact, all who knew him thought highly of his admirable qualities. We were within a chain or so of our objective when Jimmy was hit. Up till then I had been near him all the time. He had just preceded me out of the shell-hole we were in when he was caught by the machine gun fire. He fell back almost into my arms. You will perhaps be relieved to know that death was instantaneous. The next morning I and a few others brought his body in and gave it the burial that good fellows get, about a mile or so in front of the town. . . . We of this company join in extending to you our heartfelt sympathy in your sad loss.” The letter was written by two Timaru soldiers who were serving with her boy—Privates Lake Sinclair and George Ramsay—whom Mrs Smith thanked for their kindly thought which prompted them to send it.

Lake Sinclair was engaged in February 1920 to Miss Rene Lees (Irene Joyce Lees) of Gisborne but no marriage eventuated, and Irene married in 1923. Lake who had initially returned to the family home in Bank Street, Timaru, was farming at Arno, near Waimate, by 1920. There at a concert in aid of the Arno Soldiers’ Memorial Hall, held in August 1920, he drew the winning ticket in the art union (an oil painting). L. Sinclair was one of the opening speakers for the talk on “What Arno needs most” when the Arno mutual Improvement Society met on 4 August 1921. It being the seventh anniversary of the Great War, the gathering opened with the National Anthem. The talk aroused much interest. “Mr Sinclair voiced the opinion of everybody present when he stated that a library and reading room attached to the Arno Soldiers’ Memorial Hall was the most essential need. At any social in the hall the non-dancers and the elderly people would find great enjoyment in a comfortably arranged reading room where a record of the Great War should be kept.” A comedy presented at the Arno Soldiers’ Memorial Hall later in the month “concerned the adventures of a nearly-gassed patient who visited a dentist’s parlour whilst no one but the “understudy” was at home, . . . . Mr L. Sinclair, as Jorkins, the dentist’s assistant, and Mr R. Hardcastle as Sam, the boy, had the star roles, and they made them screamingly funny. Mr A. Kearton was the unlucky patient, and Mr J. Sinclair the dentist; and both played their parts.” Miss F. Pashby gave the greatest assistance as pianist, this detail to be of interest later. In October 1921 the farce “A Stormy Night,” was produced by the Arno Comedy Company. “It concerned the adventures of a jealous husband, and a stranger who loaned his wife an umbrella on a rainy night; and the comical complications arising were well carried through .by Mr H. H. Meredith as the husband, Mrs J. Wall as the wife, Mr L. Sinclair as the unfortunate stranger, and Mr J. Sinclair as a neighbour who was drawn into the mix-up.”

As of May 1923, he was the secretary for the Arno spinsters and bachelors’ ball. The annual ball was held in the Arno Soldiers’ Memorial Hall on June 15th, the grand march being led off by the secretary, Mr Lake Sinclair, and Miss G. Pashby. It was surely at Arno that Lake met Fanny (Fannie) Pashby to whom he was engaged in November 1923 and whom he married in a Presbyterian ceremony on 5 March 1924 at her father’s residence at Arno. A daughter was born to Lake and Fanny on 25 January 1925 at Nurse Reilly’s El Nathan, Waimate. A son, Lake Ferguson Sinclair, was born in 1926 and died in 2017.

On 30 July 1925, the C.F.C.A. Ltd. held an unreserved sale of live and dead stock, the property of Messrs R. Pashby, L. and J. Sinclair of Arno. And a very successful clearing sale it was. Then, on 29 August 1925, an auction was held to sell household furniture and sundries on behalf of Mr Lake Sinclair. A farewell social had been given to Mr and Mrs Robert Pashby (Fanny’s parents) and family in early July. Mr and Mrs Sinclair moved to Christchurch, probably for Lake’s health.

Lake Sinclair died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 23 September 1936 at Christchurch, aged 43 years. He was buried at Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch, after a service at his residence, 18 Kings Street, Burwood. His brother Robert and brothers of Fanny were some of the pallbearers. The Returned Soldiers’ Association was represented by the secretary and several members. He was survived by his wife, daughter (Catherine) and two sons (Lake Ferguson and Peter Alan). Fanny Sinclair died close on 50 years later, at the age of 84, and was buried with Lake.

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.

Two brothers of Lake – David Sinclair and William Bruce Sinclair – 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.


Sources – Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [10 September 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives ref. AABK 18805 W5553 0105226) [09 November 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [2013; 12 November 2016]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [2013]; Bromley Cemetery burial records (Christchurch City Council) [05 September 2014]; Bromley Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [2014]; Timaru Cemetery records (Timaru District Council); Timaru Herald, 4 & 26 March 1878, 25 March 1880, 14 November 1881, 1 December 1881, 3 & 19 June 1884, 10 May 1886, 22 May 1899, 20 December 1901, 19 December 1902, 9 February 1903, 25 June 1904, 17 October 1904, 16 December 1904, 16 October 1905, 15 December 1905, 27 July 1906, 22 October 1906, 26 & 28 February 1908, 13 & 20 March 1908, 5 March 1909, 11 December 1909, 19 August 1910, 31 October 1910, 9 February 1911, 4, 10 & 11 March 1911, 29 February 1912, 2 February 1914, 11 August 1914, 10 April 1915, 15 October 1915, 27 April 1916, 25 July 1916, 29 May 1917, 27 February 1918, 1 March 1918, 16 & 24 June 1919, 25 September 1919, 20 September 1921, 23 August 1922, 21 June 1923, 24 November 1923, 28 March 1924, 29 January 1925, 11 August 1927, 9 September 1927, 24 September 1936, 3 October 1936, 1 April 1938, 16 June 1938, NZ Times, 14 & 24 June 1919, Observer, 14 February 1920, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 28 August 1920, 1 September 1920, 5 & 29 August 1921, 29 October 1921, 30 May 1923, 20 June 1923, 14 July 1925, 1 & 28 August 1925, 3 September 1925, Press, 23 November 1923, 24, 25 & 26 September 1936, 16 June 1938, Ashburton Guardian, 3 October 1936 (Papers Past) [11 August 2014; 07 April 2015; 17 July 2016; 08 November 2016; July 2021; 14 August 2021; 04 January 2022; 29 June 2022; 10 July 2022; 01, 02, 03, 04 & 05 February 2023]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [05 September 2014; 12 November 2016; 02 February 2023]; Waimate Presbyterian marriage record [03 February 2023]

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