CONNELL, John Joseph
(Service number 7/32)

First Rank Trooper Last Rank


Date 18 March 1890 Place of Birth Levels

Enlistment Information

Date 15 August 1914 Age 24 years 5 months
Address at Enlistment Levels, Timaru
Occupation Farm hand
Previous Military Experience Timaru City Rifles
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Miss Mary CONNELL (sister), Levels, Timaru
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 11½ inches. Weight 154 lbs. Chest measurement 35-38½ inches. Complexion dark. Eyes blue. Hair dark brown. Eyes both 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both good. 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. V shaped scar just below middle left shin.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Main Body
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Date 16 October 1914
Transport Tahiti or Athenic
Embarked From Lyttelton, Canterbury Destination Suez, Egypt 
Other Units Served With New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Balkan; Egyptian
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 10 May 1916 Reason Medically unfit

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

9 September 1915 - admitted to 16th Casualty Clearing Station at Anzac - enteric, transferred to Mudros. 25 September 1915 admitted to No 2 Australian Stationary Hospital at Mudros - dysentery. 26 December 1915 - John Connell disembarked at Alexandria; 2 January 1916 admitted to New Zealand General Hospital at Port de Koubbeh, “not yet diagnosed”. Problem was glandular swelling of the neck. Improving. 11 February again recorded as improving (tuberculous glands neck).

Post-war Occupations

Farmer, labourer


Date 7 January 1945 Age 54 years
Place of Death Auckland
Memorial or Cemetery Waikaraka Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

John Joseph Connell was born (as John Connell) on 18 March 1890 at Levels, the son of Jeremiah and Mary (née Brosnahan) Connell (O’Connell). He was baptised, as John Connell, on 25 March 1890 at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Temuka. John was the third surviving son of the family and of the family of ten one of only five who reached adulthood. His mother died on 14 August 1907 at the family home at Levels. She was buried at Temuka with their five young children. Jeremiah Connell died on 18 August 1918 at Christchurch and was buried in Sydenham Cemetery. In May 1915, when Jeremiah left Levels, where he had been resident for over forty years and had “reared a respectable family”, he was accorded a very happy send-off. An impromptu ballroom was provided in a barn and decorated with patriotic flags, the Belgian flag given prime position. The evening was passed in dancing, recitations and speeches, music and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne”, until the “wee sma’ oors”. Mr Connell was accompanied by two sons and a daughter. One of his sons was “at the front fighting for his King and country”, namely John Joseph Connell. Mr Connell left the district “with the good wishes of every settler, leaving no enemy behind him.” Gifts were presented to Mr Connell, his two sons and daughter, and regret was expressed at their departure from the district. The two sons – Patrick and James – were taking up a farm in Hawke’s Bay; the daughter – Mary – was remaining in the district.

John Joseph Connell enlisted on the outbreak of war – 15 August 1914, at the age of 24 years 5 months. He named his older sister as next-of-kin – Mary Connell, Levels, Timaru. John and Mary, both still single, were at Levels with their father, John a farm hand for Frederick Tozer. He stood at 5 feet 11½ inches, weighed 154 pounds and had a chest measurement of 35-38½ inches. His complexion was dark, his eyes blue, and his hair dark brown. His sight, hearin and colour vision were all good, as were his limbs, joints, chest, heart and lungs. His teeth, however, were only fair. He was in good bodily and mental health, vaccinated, and free of diseases and defects. He had previously served with the Timaru City Rifles.

He departed with the Mounted Men by the slow train from Timaru on 17 August 1914, amidst much excitement in the town, whilst their horses were trucked at the Smithfield siding, Waimataitai. The Mayor spoke of the pride in them and said that they were going forward with stout hearts and strong arms. “Be true lads to your King and Empire, to yourselves and your country, and put your trust in God,” he said. Trooper J. J. Connell, of B Squadron of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles, arrived in camp at Addington with a sizeable contingent of South Canterbury men on that night. Having embarked with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles of the Main Body at Lyttelton on 16 October 1914, he disembarked at Alexandria on 3 December. It was 9 May 1915 when he embarked for the Dardanelles.

On 9 September 1915, John was admitted to the 16th Casualty Clearing Station at Anzac, suffering from enteric, then transferred to Mudros. He was released from hospital on 18 September, only to be admitted to the No 2 Australian Stationary Hospital at Mudros on 25 September, suffering from dysentery. He was discharged to duty with his unit on 10 October. Trooper Connell was transferred from the Canterbury Mounted Rifles to the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps on 1 December 1915. On 26 December 1915 John Connell disembarked at Alexandria and on 2 January 1916 he was admitted to the New Zealand General Hospital at Port de Koubbeh, “not yet diagnosed”. His problem was glandular swelling of the neck. He was improving. On 11 February it was again recorded that he was improving (tuberculous glands neck).

But, come March 1916 and John Joseph Connell, 7/32, Canterbury Mounted Rifles, was on his way home, on account of his ill health. Those returning had entrained on 4 March at Cairo for Suez, where the men embarked on the Hospital Ship, “Maheno”. The ship reached Lyttelton at 8.30am on 14 April, “bearing her burden of sick soldiers, . . . , who fought for the Empire on Gallipoli”, many of them with next-of-kin in South Canterbury. The majority had benefited from the sea voyage and arrived in reasonably good condition, thanks to the kind, thorough and efficient care of the ship’s staff. The South Canterbury men and a nurse left by the second express. John Connell had spent one year 178 days abroad.

John Joseph Connell was discharged on 10 May 1916, as medically unfit. For his service in Egypt and at Gallipoli he was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He intended initially to return to Levels via Timaru. A couple of other addresses were given, but he finally went to Kaipaki Settlement, Ohaupo, Waikato. There he farmed for some years, moving to Waipipi in about 1938. He died on 7 January 1945 at Auckland, aged 54 years, and was buried in Waikaraka Cemetery. His death was registered and his grave stone inscribed as O’Connell. His sister Mary, who was interred in the same cemetery in 1950, was the last survivor of her generation. She made bequests to sisters or nieces of her brother-in-law, Thomas Hawkins. His brother Patrick, who also served in World War One, married in 1928 and died in 1937 at Waipukurau. A nephew, James Hawkins, lost his life in World War Two, in 1942 in the Western Desert. The next-of-kin of James Hawkins was the widow of his uncle James Connell of Waiuku. In time, all the family of Jeremiah and Mary had moved away from Levels. James, the second son, had married in 1918 at Waipipi. He died in 1936 and was buried at Waipipi Cemetery, Auckland. Julia, who had married Thomas Peter Hawkins in 1908 (as O’Connell), lived first at Levels, then at Waihao Downs, Waihaorunga, and Redcliffs near Waimate, before moving to the North Island. Julia died in 1921 at Onga Onga, just 34 years old and leaving three young sons, and is buried in Hawke’s Bay. Her husband died in 1924 at Christchurch.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [14 September 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5530 0027468) [20 November 2014]; Timaru Herald, 15 August 1907, 18 August 1914, 14 May 1915, 5 April 1916, 13 July 1917, Sun, 18 August 1914, 5 September 1914, Press, 19 August 1914, 21 August 1918, Evening Post, 31 March 1916, New Zealand Times, 1 April 1916, Lyttelton Times, 15 April 1916, 21 August 1918, New Zealand Herald, 1 July 1937 (Papers Past) [12 & 14 September 2014; 04 & 05 February 2021]; Christchurch Catholic Diocese Baptisms Index CD (held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [10 May 2015]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of internal Affairs) [28 July 2015]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [04 April 2015; 01 January 2021]; Waikaraka Cemetery headstone transcription [29 September 2020]; Temuka Cemetery headstone images (Timaru District Council); Sydenham Cemetery headstone transcription [February 2021], Sydenham Cemetery burial record (Christchurch City Council) [February 2021]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to


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