RATTRAY, Alexander McHardy
(Service number 13396 & 5965(SA))

First Rank Lance Corporal Last Rank Corporal


Date 20 April 1880 Place of Birth Waimate

Enlistment Information

Date 15 December 1915 Age
Address at Enlistment Sefton St, Timaru
Occupation Farmer
Previous Military Experience 3 1/2 years Studholme Mounted Rifles; 8th New Zealand Contingent to South Africa, 1901-1902
Marital Status
Next of Kin Mrs I. Rattray (mother), Sefton Street, Timaru
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 7 inchesd, chest 36-39 inches, dark complexion, brown hair and eyes

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 13th Reinforcements, J Company
Date 27 May 1916
Transport HMNZT 55 Tofua
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With 2nd Battalion Wellington Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Queens South African War Medal with Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, and South Africa 1902 clasps; Western European 1917
Service Medals 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 13 June 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service (Hysteria)

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Alexander had several admissions to hospital for short periods but, inn Septemebr 1917, it was reported Alexander fainted on a route-march, after "his nerves had been going for some time". Medical reports from January and February 1918 reported that due to the stress of active service Alexander had developed a "History [of] hysterical fits at base hospital. Improved by isolation and [reeducation?]". He was "nervous, anemic ... sleeps badly ... has no confidence in himself ...[and] unfit for further service." It was recommended he be discharged and sent home to New Zealand.

Post-war Occupations


Date 25 April 1963 Age 82
Place of Death Cornwall Hospital
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Rattray was an experienced soldier when World War I began after he had served in the 8th NZ Contingent in the South African War in 1902. He had also spent three and a half years in the Studholme Mounted Rifles. Prior to enlisting he was living in Sefton Street, Timaru, and working as a farmer. At 35 years he was a relatively old recruit when he volunteered in December 1915. After training in New Zealand for five months Rattray boarded a troopship headed for the Western Front.

Although Rattray came from South Canterbury he was posted to the Wellington Regiment which often happened in order to fill gaps in units. He joined the Regiment just before the heavy fighting during the battle of the Somme. Rattray must have impressed as a soldier because following the Somme he was promoted to Lance Corporal and then in January 1917 he was promoted to Corporal. However, he did a have a bad run of illness which saw him admitted into hospital several times. Then towards the end of the year he showed signs of shell shock.

Rattray was admitted to hospital with shell shock (or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as it is now known) in September 1917. The terrible stresses of the Western Front had caused him to suffer a number of psychological conditions, such as difficulty walking, a tremor and depression. Rattray went through a number of hospitals until finally arriving at the 1st New Zealand General Hospital in January 1918. He was declared unfit for further service, returned to New Zealand in May 1918 and was sent to recover at a hospital in Auckland.


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Researched and Written by

Tony Rippin (South Canterbury Museum)

Currently Assigned to

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