LESTER, Norman John
(Service number 7/361)

First Rank Trooper Last Rank Trooper Farrier


Date 17 July 1881 Place of Birth Christchurch, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 25 August 1914 Age 32
Address at Enlistment Rakaia, New Zealand
Occupation Farmer
Previous Military Experience 9th Contingent Boer War, 7664 Trooper Lester, South Island Battalion
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs Bessie Lester (mother), Barbara Field, Geraldine
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 foot 8 inches, fair complexion, grey eyes, fair hair, weight 154 lbs, chest 35 1/2 inches, tattoos on both arms

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 2nd Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Date 14 December 1914
Transport Verdala, Willochra or Knight of the Garter
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Mounted Rifles

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian & Gallipoli
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 31 January 1916 Reason Medically unfit

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

1915: ex Gallipoli to Cairo - dairrhoea; 28 Jun 1915: admitted Alexandria General Hospital; 1915: Timaru Hospital; 1 November 1915: Red Cross Hospital Hanmer; died Christchurch Hospital 29 Jun 1918.

Post-war Occupations


Date 29 June 1918 Age 36
Place of Death Christchurch, New Zealand
Cause Deadhead & gastritis mueus colitis caused by active service
Notices The Press, 1 July 1918
Memorial or Cemetery Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch
Memorial Reference Lot 6, Bloct 46C, Plot 60
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Norman, eldest son of John & Bessie Lester, was born in Christchurch on 7 July 1881. The Press, dated 11 November 1889, reported that he was lucky to have passed his 8th year as, when playing on the Gladstone Pier, Lyttelton, he fell into the water but was saved from drowning by a Miss Mary Wilson.

At age 20, while living at Fairlie and working as a rabbiter, Norman joined up as 7664 Trooper Lester, to serve with the South Island Battalion, 9th Contingent during the Boer War. On 25 August 1914, he was working as a farmer for Mr John Gardiner at Rakaia and again signed up for war service. Joining the 2nd Canterbury Mounted Rifles as a Trooper Farrier, he was described as aged 32, 5 foot 8 inches tall, fair complexion, grey eyes, fair hair, weighting 154 lbs, chest measuring 35 ½ inches, with tattoos on both arms. His records also note he was single, an Anglican, and he gave his mother, Mrs Bessie Lester of Barbara Field, Temuka as his next of kin.

Norman left from Wellington for Suez, Egypt with the 2nd Reinforcements on 14 December 1914 aboard either the SS Verdala, Willochra or Knight of the Garter. After service in Egypt, where he was promoted to Corporal Farrier, he left in May for Gallipoli, but did not land as he fell ill with diarrhoea and was returned to Egypt with the horses. Norman was admitted to Alexandria General Hospital on 28 June 1915. After treatment, he was found unfit for further military service, and returned to NZ on the SS Tahiti on 7 August, arriving back in September 1915, one of the first soldiers to be invalided back home. On 1 November 1915, Norman was admitted to the Red Cross Hospital at Hanmer (ex Timaru Hospital), for further treatment for deadhead and gastritis mueus colitis caused by active service, and unsuitable food. In January he was reverted back to the rank of Trooper, and finally discharged on 31 January 1916, as unfit for further military service.

Unfortunately, after a long and painful illness, and treatment at Hanmer and Christchurch for over two years, he died in Christchurch Hospital on 29 June 1918, aged 36. The Press 1 July 1918 reported “The funeral of the late Trooper Norman John Lester, will leave his brother’s residence, 36 Cadogan Street, Sydenham, this day (Monday) at 2.50pm, for Sydenham Cemetery”. Trooper Lester’s medals, the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal, were sent to his mother, along with a scroll and plaque, at war’s end.


Auckland Museum Cenotaph database (June 2015); Archives NZ (Personal File); Papers Past; Christchurch City Council cemeteries database

External Links

Related Documents

No documents available. 

Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen (SC branch NZSG)

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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