WRIGHT, John Thomas
(Service number 55826)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||18 August 1888||Place of Birth||Temuka, New Zealand|
|Address at Enlistment||Rangitata Island, South Canterbury, New Zealand|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mr John Wright (father) Rangitata Island, South Canterbury, New Zealand|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||5 foot 11 inches, weight 161 lbs, chest 36 1/2 - 38 inches, fair complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, having various veins, suffered from pleurisy over last 8 years|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||28th Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||2nd Battalion Otago Infantry Regiment|
|Date||26 July 1917|
|Transport||HMNZT 90, Ulimoara|
|Embarked From||Wellington, New Zealand||Destination||Plymouth, Devon, England|
|Other Units Served With||Reserve Battalion Otago Infantry Regiment & 10th Company Otago Infantry Regiment|
|Last Unit Served With||10th Company Otago Infantry Regiment|
|Service Medals||British War Medal, Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
|Date||8 April 1920||Reason||End of war|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
14-24 November 1917 - No1 NZ General Hospital - measles; 26 May 1918 - admitted to 6th Stationary Hospital - trachea cyst - transferred to 24 General Hospital, 29 May-3 August; 23 October-1 November 1918 - No.1 NZ Field Ambulance - pleurisy; 6-10 November 1918 - No1 NZ Field Ambulance - boils; 16 Feb 1919 - NZ Field Ambulance - flu; transferred to No1 Stationary Hospital 19 February; transferred to Convalescent Depot 1 March; 10 April 1919 - No2 NZ General Hospital - flu.
|Date||18 February 1965||Age||76 years|
|Place of Death||Woodbury, South Canterbury, New Zealand|
|Notices||Internal Affairs 8 March 1965|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Arundel, South Canterbury, New Zealand|
|Memorial Reference||Row 21, Plot 29|
|New Zealand Memorials||Rangitata Island School Honours Board (as T WRIGHT)|
John, one of fourteen children, and the eldest son of John (1860-1926) and Mary (1866-1917 nee Richardson) Wright, was born at Temuka on 18 August 1888. Both his parents had been born in Cork, Ireland. His father John jnr, at the age of 16, had come out to New Zealand with his parents, another John (1838-1903) and Mary (1841-1893), who were both born at West Lothian in Scotland. The family had settled and farmed at Rangitata Island where John attended the Rangitata Station and Rangitata Schools.
On 5 May 1917, at the age of 28, John enlisted for war service and was one of the men who left Temuka late May for the 30th Reinforcements. Posted to the Otago Infantry Regiment, he nominated his father John as his next of kin, and was described as being single, a farmer, Anglican, 5 foot 11 inches tall, weighing 161 pounds, chest measuring 36 ½ - 38 inches, of fair complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, having varicose veins, and over the last 8 years, had been suffering off and on with pleurisy. On 26 July 1917, he left Wellington on HMNZT 90, SS Ulimaroa, with the 2nd Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment, as part of the 28th Reinforcements. The unit disembarked at Plymouth England on 24 September and marched into Sling Camp for further training prior to crossing over to France. The arrival of the 28th Reinforcements at Sling Camp in September, 1917, was marked by a tragic occurrence during the journey from Plymouth to Bulford, nine men being killed and two injured as a result of being run down by a fast through-train at a wayside station where the Reinforcements had temporarily halted.
Private Wright eventually left for France on 26 October 1917 as part of the Otago Infantry Regiment reserves. On 14 November 1917 he took sick with measles, was admitted to the NZ Field Ambulance, then transferred the same day to No1 NZ General Hospital. He was discharged on 24 November to the NZ Divisional Base Depot France, from where he re-joined his battalion from Base on 29 December. The winter months of 1917 were not as severe as those of the previous season, but there was a considerable amount of sickness. From time to time, epidemics of influenza, measles, and the like were experienced, demanding the adoption of special precautionary measures, and training operations were seriously interrupted. For reasons of health, and in view of the fact that several deaths had taken place during the month of February among the latest reinforcements to the Battalion, arrangements were completed for placing the 33rd Reinforcements in a special camp at Larkhill. By this time the Otago’s were fighting in the second battle of the Somme. On 26 May 1918, John was admitted again, this time to the 6th Stationary Hospital with trachea cyst. He was transferred to 24 General Hospital on 29 May, but was discharged on 3 August, to the 10 Company, 3rd Otago Infantry Regiment.
Back at the front John was part of the Allied armies that struck back from August 1918 in a series of blows that drove the increasingly demoralised enemy back. The New Zealand soldiers excelled in this open-country fighting, and helped breach the Hindenburg Line, the main German defence system. Illness took it’s toll on John once again though, when he was evacuated to No1 NZ Field Ambulance with Pleurisy from 23 October to 1 November. Returning to his unit, he then spent four days, from 6 to 10 November, in 1 NZ Field Ambulance suffering from boils. From 28 November to 26 December he enjoyed some leave in the UK. However illness was to continue to plague John as on 16 February 1919 he was admitted to the NZ Field Ambulance with influenza. Moved to No1 Stationary Hospital on 19 February, and transferred to the Convalescent Depot on 1 March, he was then sent back to Base Depot before returning to the UK where he marched in to B Group Codford Camp on 17 March. On 10 April he was back in No2 NZ General Hospital with influenza again. Finally though, on 9 June 1919, he embarked from Southampton on SS Marama, for his return to New Zealand, arriving home on 17 July 1919.
In September 1919, at a social evening at Rangitata School, John, along with other returned local men, was presented with a medal of appreciation from the district, by the Mayor of Temuka, Mr Gunnion. Private Wright was finally discharged from the army on 8 April 1920, after having served a total of 2 years and 339 days. He was later awarded the British War and Victory Medals.
In 1926 at the Temuka Anglican Church, John married Miss Lily Ann Bateman. They farmed at Rangitata up until 1935, and from 1938 to 1954 farmed at Tripp Settlement, before retiring to Woodbury in 1957. John died there on 18 February 1965, aged 76, and is buried at the Arundel Cemetery. His wife Lily died in 1976, and was buried with him.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph database (September 2013); New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 at http://nzef.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=282471; Assorted resources at Ancestry.com.au (September 2013); Timaru District Council cemetery records at https://www.timaru.govt.nz/services/community-and-culture/cemeteries/cemetery-search; "Geraldine send-off" in Temuka Leader 26 May 1917 p3, "Hospital report" in Marlborough Express 7 June 1918 p3, "Rangitata Island" in Timaru Herald 12 September 1919 p8, and the obituaries for John's parents - '"Obituary" Temuka Leader 4 December 1917 p3, and "Obituary" in Temuka Leader 23 September 1926 p2, courtesy of Papers Past at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/
No documents available.
Researched and Written by
Tony Rippin (South Canterbury Museum); Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG
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