(Service number 25815)
|Aliases||Birth registered as Edward John|
|First Rank||Rifleman||Last Rank||Rifleman|
|Date||14 March 1897||Place of Birth||Waimate|
|Date||30 May 1916||Age||19 years 2 months|
|Address at Enlistment||74 Carlyle Street, Napier|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Mary COSGRAVE (mother), 74 Carlyle Street, Napier|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 6½ inches. Chest measurement 33-37 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes grey. Hair dark. 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. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Tattoo small star outer side right forearm. Mole over right hip. Pigmented area right loin. Fit.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||11th Reinforcements, 1st Battalion, E Company|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||New Zealand Rifle Brigade|
|Date||25 September 1916|
|Embarked From||Destination||Devonport, Devon, England|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||New Zealand Rifle Brigade|
|Campaigns||Western European (Messines)|
|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|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Date||19 August 1917||Age||20 years 5 months|
|Place of Death||Ypres, Belgium|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Prowse Point Military Cemetery, Commines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium|
|Memorial Reference||IV. C. 5.|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Edward John Cosgrave was born on 14 March 1897 at Waimate, the youngest son of Edward Cosgrave and Bridget Mary (known as Mary) née Costigan, who had married at Timaru in 1885. He was baptised Roman Catholic at Waimate on 24 March 1897, his name being entered in the register in Latin - Edwardus Johannes Cosgrave. The eldest child (John) died at three years of age and is buried at Waimate. His siblings attended Makikihi and St Andrews schools before transferring to St Patrick’s Convent School at Waimate in April 1899, where it appears Edward may have started school.
Edward Cosgrave, senior, was an active member of the Waimate and districts community. In 1891 he just missed out on a position on the Waimate Borough Council. And in October 1893 he was elected to the committee of the Waimate Caledonian Society for the ensuing year, and again in subsequent years. For the December 1900 and 1902 meets he was appointed a jumping judge.
While Edward Cosgrave held the licence for the Makikihi Hotel, he hosted a visit, in 1898, from the Waimate Brass Band, clearing a room for musical entertainment and dancing. He was thanked for “the real loyal way in which he had treated them” and replied that he was happy to have them out again. When the licence was transferred in June 1899, Edward Cosgrave advertised that he was commencing business as a general blacksmith and he hoped “by Strict Attention to business and Good Workmanship to gain a fair share of Public Patronage”.
In March 1901 Edward Cosgrave had the good fortune to be one of the holders of winning tickets in the Christmas Carnival Art Union. In the same year he was gazetted a trustee of the Waimate Public Cemetery and appointed a member of the Waimate Cemetery Board, a role he continued in for a few years. About 1906 the family moved to Hawke’s Bay. The father was a blacksmith by trade, which occupation he continued after the move from Waimate to Hastings, until his death in 1916.
It was in January 1916 that young Edward Cosgrave, a pastrycook of Napier, was medically examined at the Napier Drill Hall. He was in good health and free of any illnesses or defects. It appears that Edward may have put his age up by two years to enable him to enlist. In May 1916 he was nineteen years old, a pastry cook living with his mother in Napier. His father had died there on 21 March 1916.
While a member of the 17th Reinforcements at Trentham camp, in August 1916, along with two other Hawke’s Bay men, he was successful in gaining the marksman’s badge, scoring 140 marks. 130 marks were necessary to win a badge, and the totals were seen as a great credit to the “Hawke’s Bay boys”. At Trentham he incurred one little penalty – ‘one extra guard’ for Mounting Guard with a dirty rifle! On 25 September 1916 Rifleman Edward Cosgrave embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade for England per the ‘Devon’. There he marched into Sling in November 1916, before proceeding overseas in the following January and joining his battalion at Rouen.
The next news, just eight months later, was that Rifleman Cosgrave, 25815, had been killed in action on 19 August 1917 at Ypres, Belgium, a victim of the Western European Campaign after only six months in the field and not yet 21 years old. A few distinguishing marks (tattoo, mole, pigmented area) would have helped in identifying him. He was one of eleven of the Rifle Brigade killed in action on 19 August 1917, and one of nineteen killed in action whose names appeared in the 665th casualty list. He was buried in the Prowse Point Military Cemetery at Commines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium, described as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the Ypres Salient and where Edward rests with 41 other New Zealanders.
Patrick Cosgrave, a brother of Edward, was listed in the Reserve Rolls, being a married man with two children. Edward’s medals – British War medal and Victory medal - were sent to his mother, as were the plaque and scroll in 1921/1922. Mementoes of another young life lost too soon, of a young man who has been largely forgotten. Perhaps his name was inscribed on the Napier War Memorial destroyed in the 1931 earthquake.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [30 July 2015]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W555730 0028646) [10 June 2016]; CWGC [31 July 2015]; NZ BDM historical records indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [30 July 2015]; Timaru Herald, 12 September 1891, 11 February 1903, 12 September 1917, Oamaru Mail, 17 October 1893, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 16 July 1898, 6 & 8 June 1899, 6 June 1899, 27 December 1900, 21 March 1901, 2 & 4 April 1901, 27 December 1902, Dominion, 29 January 1916, Hastings Standard, 31 August 1916, Evening Post, 10 September 1917, Star, 10 September 1917, Otago Daily Times, 11 September 1917 (Papers Past) [30 July 2015; 30 June 2016; 03 March 2017]; Christchurch Catholic Diocese Baptisms Index CD (held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [30 July 2015]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [30 July 2015]
- Great War Stories - Rifleman Edward Cosgrave - Timaru Herald 22 July 2017 (pdf, 70.6 KB updated 15-Sep-2017)
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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