(Service number 34808)

First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 24 February 1882 Place of Birth Invercargill, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 25 August 1916 Age 34
Address at Enlistment 26 Preston Street, Timaru, New Zealand
Occupation Farrier
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs L. Blackham (mother), 26 Preston Street, Timaru, New Zealand
Religion Church of England
Medical Information 5 foot 7 3/4 inches tall, weight 143 lbs (65kg), chest 37 1/2 - 41 inches, fresh complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, good teeth, scar across middle of nose

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 20th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Otago Infantry Regiment, D Company
Date 30 December 1916
Transport Athenic
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Devonport, England
Other Units Served With 3rd Reserve Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment
Last Unit Served With 3rd Reserve Battalion, Otago Infantry regiment

Military Awards

Service Medals British War 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 January 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for further war service on account of pre-enlistment disability aggravated by active service

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

28 April 1917 - admitted to No3 General Hospital, Codford - appendicitis ; 14 May - transferred to Military Hospital, Swansea; 2 July - transferred to NZ General Hispital, Brockenhurst - influenza; 10 August 1917 - reported to Discharge Depot, Torquay

Post-war Occupations



Date 9 February 1951 Age 68
Place of Death Auckland, New Zealand
Memorial or Cemetery Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland
Memorial Reference Wesley Division B, Row 2, Plot 16
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

William born at Invercargill on 24 February 1882 was the fourth of seven sons and four daughters of Richard (1837-1912) and Elizabeth (1837-1924, nee Webb) Blackham. He was educated at the Middle and Park Schools Invercargill, where his siblings had also attended. The family had originally farmed at Wrey’s Bush, Invercargill. Later they moved into Dee Street Invercargill, where his father became a hotel keeper. From 1905 to 1911 William was working as a blacksmith in Invercargill. After his father’s death in 1912, the family moved to 26 Preston Street Timaru, and in 1914, William was working at Sheffield.

On 12 August 1914 William had registered with the 8th Mounted Rifles at Timaru, and enlisted for war service on 25 August 1916. At this time he was working as a farrier for F. Miles at Fairlie, giving his home address as Preston Street, Timaru. His mother Elizabeth was nominated as his next of kin. He was described as being 5 foot 7 ¾ inches tall, single, Anglican, weighing 143 pounds (65 kg), chest measuring 37½ - 41 inches, of fresh complexion, with blue eyes, brown hair, good teeth, and having a scar across the middle of his nose. After training at Trentham and Featherston with D Company, Otago Infantry Regiment, he left Wellington aboard the Athenic on 30 December 1916 with the 20th Reinforcements (2nd Draft). Bound for Devonport, England, they arrived 3 March 1917. During the voyage to England he was transferred to the 3rd Reserve Battalion Otago Ifantry regiment (OIR), and marched into Sling Camp with this unit on arrival.

On 28 April 1917 William was admitted to No3 General Hospital, Codford, with appendicitis and transferred to the Military Hospital at Southsea on 14 May until 2 July. He he was again transferred to NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst with influenza. On 10 August he reported to the Discharge Depot at Torquay, and on 15 August, he embarked for NZ aboard the Tofua, arriving home on 14 October 1917. On 13 January 1918 he was discharged from the army as no longer physically fit for war service on account of pre enlistment disability aggravated by active service. Having served for 1 year and 142 days, he was later awarded the British War Medal.

In 1928 William was listed as being employed by P.H. McConachie, Blacksmith, Arcade, Timaru. Little is known of what happened to William from then on but he had a troubled life. By 1934 he was reported to be an inmate on Roto Island, a Salvation Army facility for inebriates, and had had a couple of spells in Mount Eden for disciplinary reasons. In 1936 he was listed as having for some years, been an inmate of the Auckland Mental Hospital. William died in Auckland on 9 February 1951 at the age of 68, and is buried in the Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland.

Three other Blackham boys served overseas during this war. 25/948 Rifleman John Blackham served with the NZ Rifle Brigade and died on 26 September 1916 of wounds received during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette at Brockenhurst Hospital England. 12729 BQMS George Thomas Blackham served with the NZ Field Artillery in Western Europe. 32298 Rifleman Harry Blackham served with the NZ Rifle Brigade in Western Europe.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [06 September 2016]; New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at®Num=34808&place= [November 2016]; "Mounted Rifles Eight (South Canterbury) Squadron" in the Sun 5 September 1914, Court notes in The Southland Times 12 & 13 May 1908,, "Returned Home" in the Evening Post 13 October 1917, "Roto Roa Inmates" in the Auckland Star 5 December 1934, and "Refused to Work" in the Auckland Star 8 August 1935, courtesy of [November 2016]; Assorted records at [November 2016]; and Auckland City Council cemetery records at

External Links

Related Documents

No documents available. 

Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG; Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Logo. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.

Tell us more

Do you have information that could be added to this story? Or related images that you are happy to share? Submit them here!

Your Details
Veteran Details
- you may attach an image or document up to 10MB