SCHAAB, Magnus Joseph
(Service number 4/1123)

First Rank Sapper Last Rank Sergeant


Date 24 March 1887 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 15 September 1915 Age 28 years
Address at Enlistment Molesworth Street, Wellington
Occupation Postal clerk
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs Clara SCHAAB (mother), Arthur Street, Timaru
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 10 inches. Weight 164 lbs. Chest measurement 33-36 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair light 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 good. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Fit.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 7th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Army Postal Service
Date 9 October 1915
Transport Aparima or Navua or Warrimoo
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With NZ Army Postal Service

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian
Service Medals British War medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards Brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War

Award Circumstances and Date

Brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War, for valuable services rendered in connection with the War. 28 August 1919

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 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

12 December 1916 - admitted to 2nd NZ General Hospital at Walton - slight influenza. 19 December discharged to duty.

Post-war Occupations

Civil servant; postmaster


Date 12 April 1929 Age
Place of Death
Notices Timaru Herald, 15 April 1929; Evening Post, 13 April 1929; Star (Christchurch), 13 April 1929; Dominion, 13 April 1929
Memorial or Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Memorial Reference General Section, Row 89, Plot 482
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Magnus Joseph Schaab, known as Mack, was born on 24 March 1887 at Timaru, the third son of Anthony (Anton) and Clara Selina (née Wright) Schaab, of Timaru. He was baptised Catholic at Timaru on 17 April following. He was educated at the Catholic Marist Boys’ School at Timaru. At the school’s annual concert in the Theatre Royal on 7 November 1901, Master M. Schaab took one of the principal parts in a farce “No. 1, Round the Corner” and performed well. “These school gatherings are always made interesting, as apart from presenting a capital programme, they show the tendency of the work of the school, and the adaptability of the scholars to the wishes and instructions of their teachers.” German-born Anton Schaab (also known as Andrew) married Clara Selina Wright in 1877 in New Zealand. He was a Harbour Board employee (boatman) throughout his residence in Timaru and engaged in the rescues when the Benvenue and City of Perth were wrecked along the coast. He died in November 1906 after suffering a strain in the course of his work. The flags on the harbour offices were flown at half-mast yesterday out of respect for the deceased. The first nine of the ten children of Anton and Clara were registered as Shaab, perhaps to mask the German origins and perhaps because of pronunciation/spelling confusion.

M. J. Schaab was gazetted a messenger with the Post and Telegraph Department in 1904. His position with the P & T was confirmed in later gazettes. Messenger M. Schaab, of the Timaru Post Office, Timaru, who had been transferred on promotion to Gore, was the recipient of a couple of presentations in mid-December 1904 — a travelling bag from the operators, and a set of well-mounted brushes from the messengers. The final for gold medals offered for competition among the second-class shots of the Gore Rifles was held on 14 March 1906. Private M. J. Schaab finished a close third of the ten competitors. At the Gore Catholic Bazaar in August 1906, not only was he secretary, but he won the competition to guess the number of lollies in a jar, gaining a sheep in the process. In 1907, Magnus was back in Timaru, playing in a football match Postal v. Telegraph in September. While Magnus played for Postal, showing some fine footwork, his brother Stanley played for Telegraph which ran out the winners. A few days later the Schaab brothers were in the forwards for the Post and Telegraph in a match against the Canterbury Farmers’ Association. He was in the Celtic Presidents team which played Old Boys’ Club on 13 August 1908, scoring one of the tries to give them a win. He was selected for the same team in the 1909 season. In September 1907, he was elected secretary on the formation of the Catholic Tennis Club. The old St John’s Club had not been a success and it was considered desirable to form an exclusively Catholic one. He was re-elected secretary the following year and the year after, and secretary and treasurer in 1911.

When the Catholic men formed a social club – the Timaru Catholic Club – in March 1909, M. Schaab was elected to the committee. Magnus was an attendant at the marriage of his brother Harry Llewellyn Schaab at St Mary’s Church, Pleasant Point on 16 June 1909. He turned out for the Celtic Football Club in June 1909. In August 1909 he was elected treasurer of the St John’s Tennis Club and a club delegate to the Sports Association. As secretary of that club in February 1910, Magnus presented to the Rev. Father Kerley, who was departing, a handsome solid silver tobacco pouch (inscribed) as a souvenir of his pleasant and helpful association with the club. He played in the Combined (Mixed) Doubles and Men’s Doubles in the 1912 tennis match between St John’s and Aorangi. The Misses Albert and Mr M. Schaab were the post office stall-holders at the very successful garden party held in the Priory grounds in November 1911. In February 1912, great credit was given to Magnus for his work as handicapper for the St John’s Tennis Club’s tournament. At the establishment of a Young Men’s Club in the parish in March 1912, he was elected to the committee; he earned particular mention as secretary of a stall at the church bazaar held in November. In 1913 he filled several rôles - assistant secretary of the Timaru branch of the Hibernian Society (H.A.C.B.) and re-elected; elected to represent St John’s Tennis Club on the committee of the newly-formed local branch of the Catholic Federation; gave a musical item at the first re-union of the Temuka and Timaru Catholic Clubs; elected a committee member, delegate to the Sub-Association and captain at the annual meeting of the tennis club. 1914 was similar for Magnus Schaab, including his contribution of songs at a smoke concert held by the Celtic Football Club, offering a medal for the ladies’ tennis tournament and serving as president of St John’s Tennis Club.

Magnus Joseph Schaab, Timaru, passed in two subjects in the Public Service senior examination in January 1914. He kept up his tennis with St John’s Club throughout 1911 to 1914, and also served as secretary and captain. He was also active with the Catholic Young Men’s Club, and a regular secretary of the St Mary’s Branch, No. 193, H.A.C.B.S. [Hibernian]. It was in November 1914 that members of the Sacred Heart Choir and St. John’s Tennis Club met to bid farewell to Mr. M. Schaab. “A very enjoyable evening was spent in a musical programme and various entertainments. During the night the Rev. Dean Tubman presented a handsome travelling bag and silver set of brushes from the members of the above societies. In a happy speech the Dean dwelt on the sterling qualities of the recipient, stating not only would the members of the clubs present miss him greatly, but the whole parish would be losers.” Mr Schaab left by first express on 19 November to take up more important duties in Wellington. He soon joined the Brougham Hill Lawn Tennis Club. He also joined the H.A.B.C. Society. Magnus Joseph Schaab, Wellington, passed in three subjects in the Public Service senior examination in January 1915. Magnus came home to Timaru at Easter 1915 for the fourteen annual conference of the Federated Catholic Clubs of New Zealand and contributed songs at the Easter Sunday breakfast.

Then in September 1915, the medical certificates of several recruits, M. J. Schaab (postal clerk) among them, were handed in. Magnus Joseph Schaab stood at 5 feet 10 inches, weighed 164 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 33-36 inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes blue, and his hair light brown. His sight, hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs were all normal, his limbs and chest well formed, his teeth good. Free from illnesses, diseases, and fits, and vaccinated, he was in good bodily and mental health and was classified fit. He enlisted on 15 September 1915 at Trentham. He had served with the Gore Rifles and the Timaru City Rifles until he left the district. A postal clerk, residing at Molesworth Street, Wellington, single and Roman Catholic, he named his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs Clara Schaab, Arthur Street, Timaru, and later of 2 Chapel Street. Later a brother was named – Mr Francis S. Schaab, Postmaster, Middlemarch, Otago. Of the General Post Office, Magnus was selected for duty in the Army Post Office and was to leave for Egypt with the next reinforcements.

Shortly before leaving, Magnus represented Civil Services Clubs in a tennis match with St Mary’s, contributing much to their convincing win. Sapper M. J. Schaab embarked with the Army Postal Service, 7th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington for Suez, Egypt, on 9 October 1915. At the annual meeting of the St John’s Tennis Club, Timaru, which took place in October 1915, the chairman and several members spoke of the pride they felt in having so many members doing duty at the front and expressed the hope that they would before long be back safe and sound. Among the names mentioned as serving their country at the Dardanelles was M. Schaab.

M. J. Schaab was taken on Strength at Alexandria on 22 November 1915. He then embarked for England on 25 March 1916. Reporting at the New Zealand Base Depot at Grey Towers on 15 April 1916, he was taken on Strength at the Hornchurch Post Office. On 20 July 1916 Sapper Schaab was detailed on Command to the New Zealand Base at Regents Park and on 28 September 1916 to Walton. He had been promoted to Corporal on 1 August 1916. He was admitted to the 2nd New Zealand General Hospital at Walton on 12 December 1916, with slight influenza. He was discharged to duty at No. 2 Hospital at Walton-on-Thames on 19 December. A letter written by Archdeacon Jacob on 11 January 1917 was received in Timaru. “I am now living at Oatlands Park Hotel - 1½ miles from Walton – which we have taken over, for 500 extra men, and ply up and down between the two places. We have about 840 patients now, . . . . Corporal Schaab, of Timaru, is in charge of our Post Office here.” On 31 March 1917, Schaab was taken on Strength in London. His next appointment was on 14 July 1917 to the Post Office at Walton. On 30 October 1917, Corporal Schaab was transferred “On Command” at Walton to Duty at the New Zealand Base Post Office in London. He had been granted the rank of Temporary Sergeant the day before. Granted the rank of Sergeant, he reported for duty and was taken on Strength at Brockenhurst on 1 November 1917.

On New Year’s Day, 1918, at St Pancras Church, London, a quiet wedding was solemnized between a young English woman and a New Zealand serviceman. The duties of best man were carried out by Sergeant M. J. Schaab, N.Z.E.F. Sergeant Schaab was transferred “On Command” from No. 1 New Zealand General Hospital at Brockenhurst to the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch on 20 February 1918. He reported for duty at the New Zealand Base Post Office for the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch (or in London) on 24 June 1918. Having been appointed Temporary Staff Sergeant on 22 February 1919, he relinquished that appointment on 21 May.

Sergeant M. J. Schaab, of Timaru, embarked at Plymouth on 31 May 1919 for return to New Zealand per the “Kigoma” which was due at Wellington on 15 July 1919. The local men were expected to arrive by the evening train from the north on 16 July, but in the event, they did not reach Timaru until the next day. He was discharged on 13 August 1919, on the termination of his term of engagement. All his service (well over three years), for which he was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, was in Egypt (1915-1916) and England. A Press Communique dated 28 August 1919, advised that 4/1123 Sergeant M. J. Schaab, New Zealand Army Postal Corps, was brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War, for valuable services rendered in connection with the War. It was only in 1920 that it was published in the Press. On 23 September 1919. Magnus Schaab applied for the Overseas War-Service Gratuity as a member of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

Magnus Joseph Schaab married English born Gertrude Marguerite Bryant (Rita) on 7 December 1920 at Timaru. Had Mack and Rita met in England? In 1919 he had been transferred to Wellington. Mrs M. J. Schaab was placed first for her Madeira cake at the Pioneer Club’s show in May 1922. Their first-born – a son – was stillborn at Kilbirnie on 9 March 1924. The gift of a son – Bryan Magnus Schaab – arrived on 13 August 1925 at the Willis Street Obstetric Hospital. It was in 1925 that Magnus spent time at the Pukeroa Sanatorium, Waipukurau. Mr M. J. Schaab took over as the new postmaster at Bulls on 1 June 1925. At Bulls Magnus Schaab got into bowling. He was an active member of the club and met with considerable success through to April 1928. He was also elected to the committee of the Rangitikei Football Club (Bulls), and Mrs Schaab was elected to the committee of the Bulls branch of the Plunket Society. When on annual vacation in November 1926, Mr and Mrs Schaab visited Timaru. They went to Timaru again in September 1927 when on holiday. Mr Schaab also enjoyed success at euchre while at Bulls.

Magnus Joseph Schaab (Mack), Postmaster Bulls, died on 12 April 1929 at the Cashmere Sanatorium, Christchurch, aged 42 years. After a service at the Timaru Catholic Church, he was buried in Timaru Cemetery with his father and youngest brother (1914). When his mother died in February 1933, she too was buried with them, and his eldest sister who died in Australia (1925) is remembered on the gravestone. A services stone is erected over Magnus. Magnus Schaab had been granted leave in June 1928 because of ill health and had spent some months at the Cashmere Sanatorium. His next-of-kin at death was his wife – Mrs G. M. Schaab, C/o Mrs Terris, 30 Disraeli Street, Addington, Christchurch. She received a letter from Base Records Office, dated 19 April 1929, conveying to her and the members of her family, sincere sympathy in the loss which had been sustained and assuring her that “it is not forgotten that Mr Schaab served the Empire during a period of great peril.” Was his death a consequence of or hastened by his war service? Magnus Joseph Schaab, a civil servant at Kilbirnie, drew up his Will on 21 February 1923, appointing Gertrude Marguerite Schaab as executor. He left one hundred pounds to his mother provided he left no children in which event the sum was to be reduced to fifty pounds. His war medals were to remain in his wife’s possession during her lifetime after which they were to go to his oldest living son or if no son to his brother Anthony Martin. His real and personal property was to go to his wife Gertrude Marguerite for her own and their children’s use “as she thinks fit”.

Before the annual general meeting of the Bulls branch of the Plunket Society in late April 1929, reference was made to the death of the husband of a member of the branch, Mr M. Schaab, and as a mark of sympathy with Mrs Schaab all stood in silence. What became of Mrs Schaab and their wee boy? For a few years Gertrude lived in Brougham Avenue, Wellington. Mrs G. Schaab (Rita), of Brougham Avenue, and her small son, Master B. M. Schaab, were passengers on the “Rangitane”, leaving Wellington at daybreak on 13 April 1933, for London, via the Panama Canal. Mrs G. M. Schaab (widow) and Master B. M. Schaab travelled by the “Strathnaver” from London on 26 January 1934, reaching Sydney on 9 March 1934, then coming on to New Zealand, they arrived in Wellington by the “Wanganella” on 13 March. Come March 1935 and they departed for Sydney by the “Wanganella”. About May 1935, Mrs Rita Schaab and Master Bryan Schaab called at the High Commissioner’s Office in London. In the late 1930s and 1940s, Gertrude and Bryan were in London. Bryan Magnus Schaab died in November 1950, aged 25 years, and was buried bron 2 March 1893, probably the eldest of five girls, died in May 1979 of St Leonards-on-Sea, and was buried at Sedlescombe, Sussex.

Three brothers of Magnus were listed on the Reserve Rolls - Anthony Martin Schaab, the oldest brother and a married man with three children; Harry Llewellyn Schaab, the second brother and a married man with four children; Francis Stanley Schaab, a younger brother and a married man with three children, and like Magnus a postmaster. Seven nephews of Magnus Schaab are known to have served in World War Two – James Llewellyn Schaab (Jim), Frederick Joseph Schaab (prisoner of war), Ernest Henry Schaab (Ernie), Ronald Magnus Schaab, Arthur James McMeeken, Ernest John O’Donoghue, Maurice Patrick O’Donoghue (Navy).


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [04 November 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives ref. AABK 18805 W5550 0102195) [14 November 2014]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [04 November 2014]; Timaru Herald, 8 November 1901, 27 November 1906, 5 December 1906, 24 & 25 September 1907, 5 October 1907, 13 & 15 August 1908, 26 March 1909, 27 April 1909, 23 June 1909, 15 July 1909, 26 August 1909, 14 & 18 February 1910, 14 & 29 March 1912, 10 July 1913, 19 November 1914, 13 April 1917, 17 July 1919, 22 & 23 February 1933, Otago Daily Times, 19 December 1904, Mataura Ensign, 15 March 1906, 2 August 1906, NZ Tablet, 2 August 1906, 10 September 1908, 1 April 1909, 9 September 1909, 17 February 1910, 21 September 1911, 23 November 1911, 15 February 1912, 28 March 1912, 21 November 1912, 16 January 1913, 6 March 1913, 17 & 31 July 1913, 30 October 1913, 23 July 1914, 17 & 24 September 1914, 15 October 1914, 26 November 1914, 22 April 1915, 30 September 1915, 28 October 1915, Dominion, 19 February 1914, 1 & 8 February 1915, 10 & 15 March 1924, 13 April 1929, 8 & 12 April 1933, NZ Times, 16 February 1915, 11 September 1915, 19 March 1919, 26 May 1920, 11 May 1922, Wairarapa Daily Times, 18 March 1919, Evening Post, 10 March 1924, 22 August 1925, 13 April 1929, 8 & 14 March 1934, 6 June 1935, Wanganui Chronicle, 3 June 1925, 5 November 1926, 13 September 1927, 2 May 1929, Manawatu Standard, 15 September 1927, 2 May 1929, Star, 13 April 1929, Wanganui Herald, 15 April 1929, Auckland Star, 5 March 1935 (Papers Past) [04 November 2014; 19 August 2016; 03 & 04 August 2023]; Timaru Cemetery headstone image (Timaru District Council) [04 November 2014]; Timaru Herald, 15 April 1929 (Timaru District Library) [07 January 2016]; Catholic Baptism record (Christchurch Diocese CD held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [04 October 2015]; Probate record (Archives NZ/Family Search) [07 January 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [05 August 2023]

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