ROBERTS, Alexander William
(Service number 2/723)

Aliases Alec
First Rank Gunner Last Rank Private


Date 30 January 1873 Place of Birth Lyttelton, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 9 September 1914 Age 41
Address at Enlistment Oxford Street, Lyttelton, New Zealand
Occupation Seaman
Previous Military Experience 4th and 8th Contingents Boer War, N Battery (TF) Lyttelton
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs Ruth L. Roberts (mother), Temuka, later Mrs Nellie Chapman (sister), 8 MacFarlane Street, Wellington
Religion Church of England
Medical Information 5 foot 11 inches, weight 161 lbs, chest 34-38 inches, fair complexion, hazel eyes, good teeth, contracted third finger on left hand

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Main Body
Unit, Squadron, or Ship E Battery, NZ Field Artillery
Date 16 October 1914
Transport Arawa or Limerick
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With E Battery NZ Field Artillery

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian & Balkan (Gallipoli)
Service Medals Queens South African Medal with clasps for Rhodesia, Transvaal and Cape Colony; 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 May 1916 Reason Medically unfit

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

8 September 1915 - Mudros Hospital - dysentery & rheumatics (transferred to Ismailia, Eypt; 24 September 1915 - Gallipoli - gun shot wound to hand

Post-war Occupations



Date 23 August 1917 Age 44
Place of Death Wanganui, New Zealand
Cause Run over by Auckland Express train at Marton Junction, 22 August 1917
Memorial or Cemetery Terrace End Cemetery, Palmerston North
Memorial Reference Block 016, Plot 018
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Alexander, eldest son of Arthur William & Elizabeth (nee Maxwell) Robbins, was born at Christchurch on 14 May 1895. The New Zealand Gazette for 20 January 1911 lists him as passing the NZ Teachers & Civil Service Exams and Licences.

Alexander, third son of John & Ruth Louisa (nee Brighting) Roberts, was born at Lyttelton on 30 January 1973.

At the age of 27, when he was employed as Goal Warder, and living at the Railway Hotel, Kaikora, North Dunedin, he enlisted in the 4th Contingent (NZ Rough Riders), Regimental Number 1053, to serve in the Boer War. He sailed from Dunedin on 24 March 1900, and returned 11 July 1901 on the troopship Tafus, with the rank of acting Warrant Officer. He promptly re-enlisted and served with the 8th Contingent, with the rank of Lieutenant. For this service he was awarded the Queen’s Medal with clasps for Rhodesia, Transvaal and Cape Colony South Africa 1901-1902. Alexander continued to serve with the Territorial Force in “N”Battery, NZ artillery at Lyttelton.

In 1914 Alexander was living at Oxford Street, Lyttelton, and employed as a seaman for W. Cook, ship owner of Lyttelton. He enlisted on 9 September, at the age of 41, as a Gunner for service with E Battery, NZ Field Artillery. He was described as being single, Anglican, 5 foot 11 inches tall, weighing 161 lbs, chest measuring 34 – 38 inches, having a fair complexion, hazel eyes, fair hair, good teeth and a contracted third finger on his left hand. His mother, Mrs Ruth Louise Roberts of Temuka, was nominated as his next of kin, but this was later changed to his sister, Mrs Nellie Chapman, of 8 MacFarlane Street, Wellington.

Alexander left Wellington with the Main Body on 16 October 1914, aboard SS Arawa or Limerick, arriving in Suez, Egypt, on 3 December. After Egyptian service he was posted to Gallipoli and on 8 September, was evacuated to Mudros suffering from dysentery and rheumatics before being sent onwards to hospital in Ismailia. He must have been sent back to Gallipoli shortly after as he suffered a gunshot wound to his hand on 24 September 1915. He was evacuated back to NZ aboard the SS Ulimaroa on 23 March 1916, arriving home on 21 April where he was discharged as medically unfit on 26 May.

On 31 July 1917, Alexander once again enlisted into the Military Police. While travelling on the Auckland Express on the evening of 22 August 1917, he fell off at Marton Junction and as run over by the train. Taken to Wanganui Hospital, he died the next day of his injuries, aged 44 years. He is buried in Block 016, Plot 018, Terrace End Cemetery, Palmerston North.

Sources at; University of New South Wales, Canberra NZEF Project "New Zeland Anzacs in ther Great War 1914-1918" at; Birth, Death and Marriage Historical Records at; Manawat Times, 25 August 1917, p1, Christchurch Press, 23 August 1917, p2, Otago Daily Times 13 October 1899, p5, & Ashburton Guardian, 31 December 1901, p3 via Papers Past at

External Links

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Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

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