PRATTLEY, James Henry
(Service number 6/3436)

First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 23 May 1894 Place of Birth Temuka, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 25 August 1915 Age 21
Address at Enlistment 57 Guise Street, Temuka
Occupation Farm Labourer
Previous Military Experience 2nd (SC) Regiment
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs Elizabeth Prattley (mother) 57 Guise Street, Temuka
Religion Methodist
Medical Information 5 foot 6 inches tall, weight 148 pounds (67kgs), chest 34 1/2-37 inches, fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, false upper teeth - lower good

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 8th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Infantry Battalion
Date 13 November 1915
Transport HMNZT 35 Willocha
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With NZ Salvage Corps
Last Unit Served With NZ Salvage Corps

Military Awards

Campaigns Egypt & Western Europe
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 26 February 1919 Reason No longer physically fit for war service (injury left knee)

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

24 March - April 2 1916 - NZ Field Ambulance - injury left knee. 30 June 1916 - admitted sick to Field Hospital; 1 to 14 July - transferred to 1 Convalescent Depot, Boulogne. 29 November 1917 - admitted to NZ Field Ambulance - injury to left knee; transferred to Canadian Casualty Clearing Station (CCS); transferred on 2 Dececember to 83 General Hospital, Boulogne; 6 December - transferred via Hospital ship to UK; 7 December - admitted to Military Hospital, Fulham; transferred to Convalescent Hospital, Hornchurch from 18 December to 16 January 1918. 14 March 1918 - classified as unfit for service. 1 July to 14 August 1918 - admitted to 3 NZ General Hospital - conjunctivitis.

Post-war Occupations

Farm labourer


Date 6 August 1975 Age 81
Place of Death Christchurch, New Zealand
Memorial or Cemetery Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch
Memorial Reference Block IE, Plot 332
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

James was born at Temuka on 23 May 1894, son of Frederick and Elizabeth (nee Simmonds) Prattley. Frederick was born in at Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire, England in 1842, and after moving to New Zealand worked in the local Temuka area. He died at Temuka on 13 October 1913. His first marriage was to Mary Ann Panting in Oxfordshire, who later died at Temuka in 1888. Four years later he married again, this time to James’ mother Elizabeth, at Temuka in 1892. Elizabeth had been born at Lyneham, Oxfordshire, England in 1854. After Frederick’s death, Elizabeth also remarried, also at Temuka, to Spohus Ludwig Larsen in 1916. Much later she too died at Temuka in 1935. She was buried in the Temuka Cemetery with her first husband, Frederick.

James received his education at the Waimate, Seadown and Temuka Schools. When he enlisted on 25 August 1915, he was employed as a farm labourer for Mr W Benbow, a local farmer at Temuka. He nominated his mother Mrs Elizabeth Prattley (later changed to Larsen) of 57 Guise Street, Temuka, as his next of kin, and also as his current address. His army record describe him as being aged 21 years, 5 foot 6 inches in height, single, Methodist, weighing 148 pounds (67kgs), with a chest measuring 34 ½-37 inches, having a fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, false upper teeth but good lower teeth. He stated he had previous military experience with the 2nd (SC) Regiment, and on entering camp at Trentham, was posted as part of the 8th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion. Here he undertook basic infantry training, which included physical fitness, musketry, bayonet-fighting, individual training and night training, followed by more in-depth training locally, and at satellite camps in the lower North Island.

On 13 November he departed aboard HMNZT35 “Willocha” from Wellignton, destined for Suez, Egypt. During the voyage they had a stop at Hobart where they enjoyed the hospitality of the locals, then a short stop at Albany. The ship was overcrowded but the cool weather kept things comfortable and they were occupied with fitness and weapon training along with the usual sports of boxing, novelty events, and the paying of homage to Father Neptune on crossing the equator. On arrival in Suez on 18 December 1915 James and his fellows entrained for camp at Ismailia. January and February 1916 were fairly quiet for the battalion as those recently returned from Gallipoli were re-equipping and the battalion was guarding a portion of the Canal at Ferry Post. From 24 March to April 2 Private James Prattley was admitted to hospital with an injury to his left knee before re-joining his unit at Moascar. Finally, on 6 April 1916, he boarded the SS “Franconia” for the move to France to join the NZ Division already on the Western Front, arriving at Marseilles on 11 April. From Marseilles they immediately proceeded to Armentieres, a so called “quiet area” to learn the art of trench warfare.

James was admitted sick to hospital in the field on 30 June, but was quickly transferred to 1 Convalescent Depot at Boulogne on 1 July. After recovering he was attached to the New Zealand Infantry and General Base Depot at Etaples on 14 July. Here all New Zealand troops on their way to France and Belgium went through a short, intensive training course, whether they were new recruits or veterans returning from hospital. Private Prattley remained here until he was posted to the ANZAC Salvage Corps on 3 April 1917. Formed on 5 May 1916, the NZ Divisional Salvage Company duties were the care and custody of packs of troops engaged in offensive operations, of tents and canvas of the Division, salvage of Government property, and also enemy property wherever found, and the sorting of the stuff salvaged, and dispatch of same to base. On 10 November 1917, James had a spell of leave in the UK before re-joining his unit in the field on 29 November. The same day he was admitted to the Field Ambulance with an injury to his left knee. He was transferred to the Canadian Casualty Clearance Station before being admitted to No 83 General Hospital at Boulogne on 2 December. Four days later he embarked aboard a hospital ship for England, and was admitted to the military hospital at Fulham on the next day, 7 December. After almost two weeks he was transferred to the Convalescent hospital at Hornchurch on 18 December. Almost a month later his knee was somewhat recovered – or at least had improved as best it was expected to be - as he was he was attached to the strength of the Command Depot Codford on 16 January 1918. But the injury was obviously still impairing James’ abilities as a medical board met on 14 March and classified him as unfit for duty and resulted in him being placed on the NZ Roll rather than returning to the front. On 1 July 1918 he was again admitted to No 3 NZ General Hospital, this time suffering from conjunctivitis, before discharge to the Base Depot at Sling Camp. Here he stayed until 23 December, when as part of Draft 211, he boarded SS “Briton” for return to New Zealand.

James arrived back home in New Zealand on 29 January 1919. After a short period of sick leave James was discharged from the army on 26 February 1919, as no longer physically fit for war service (injury to left knee) having served a total of 4 years and 186 days. For this service he was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

James returned to his home at Temuka and took up employment as a farm labourer. On 25 May 1920 at Temuka he married Margaret Jane Seeler (b.1899), daughter of Mr JP Seeler Temuka. A son John Frederick Prattley was born on 8 June 1923. Margaret died on 14 June 1942, and is buried in the Temuka Cemetery. By 1946 James was living in Christchurch where he resided until his death on 6 August 1975, aged 81 years. He was buried in the Ruru Lawn Cemetery.

A brother 7/2128 Driver Stanley John Prattley also served in Western Europe with the 9th Battery NZ Field Artillery.


New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at; Assorted records at [June 2021]; "Personal" (re: injured knee) in the Temuka Leader 27 December 1917, "Personal Items" (Temuka men returning with draft 211) in the Timaru Herald 21 January 1919, and "home again" in the Timaru Herald 1 February 1919, courtesy of Papers Past at [June 2021]

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Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

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