FIFIELD, Robert John
(Service number 15854)

First Rank Private Last Rank Rifleman


Date 10 February 1894 Place of Birth Woodbury, South Canterbury, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 6 April 1916 Age 22 years
Address at Enlistment Woodbury, New Zealand
Occupation Blacksmith
Previous Military Experience 2nd South Canterbury Rifles
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Jack Fifield (Father), Woodbury
Religion Church of England
Medical Information 5 feet 11 1/2 inches tall, weighed 12 stone 4lb, minimum chest measurement 34 inches, maximum chest measurement 37 1/2 inches, was of a fair complexion, with blue eyes and red hair.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Main Body
Unit, Squadron, or Ship G Company, 15th Reinforcements, NZ Rifle Brigade
Date 25 July 1916
Transport HMNZT 59 Waitemata
Embarked From Wellington Destination Devonport, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European 1916-1918
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 August 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

14 November 1918: New Zealand General Hospital Codford - scabies. 3 January 1918: New Zealand General Hospital Codford - Mumps

Post-war Occupations


Date 16 May 1983 Age 89 years
Place of Death Gisbourne, New Zealand
Memorial or Cemetery Taruheru Cemetery, Gisborne
Memorial Reference Services Area Plot 26 Warrant Number 24663
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Robert John Fifield was the only child of John (Jack) Fifield and Margaret Ann Bell, and was born on 10 January 1894 in Woodbury, Geraldine. Roberts' mother died on 27 October 1895, when Robert was 21 months old. Roberts' father Jack re-married to Bertha Hammond on 24 June 1897 in Woodbury. Robert had nine half brothers and sisters: Alice Rosey, George Clement, Leonard Cecil, Eva Caroline, Elsie Myrtle, Mildred Hollis, Arthur Jonas, Bertha Mary, and David Dean Fifield.

Robert was working as a Blacksmith with his father in Woodbury prior to his enlistment on 5 April 1916 in Trentham. During his medical exam the Medical Officer described him as being a 22 year old single Angilcan, who was 5ft 11 and a half inches tall weighing 12 st 4lb with a maximum chest measurement of 37 and a half inches and a minimum measurement of 34 inches. He was of a fair complexion with blue eyes and red hair.

Corporal Fifield Joined G Company of the 15 Reinforcements, New Zealand Rifle Brigade and embarked at Wellington with HMNZT 59 onboard the Waitemata on 26 July 1916, and disembarked at Devonport and marched into Sling Camp for further training on 3 October 1916 where he reverted back to Lance Corporal. Robert left for France on 20 October 1916 and marched into Etaples othe following day. He went into the field as a Rifleman with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 5 November 1916.

Rifleman Fifield was wounded in action on 7 June 1917. He was initially admitted to the No 9 Australian Field Hospital before being moved to the No 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station the same day. The next day he was admitted to the No 56 General Hospital in Etaples before embarking on the Corinth for Egypt from France and was admitted to the New Zealand General Hospital on 10 June 1917. He was transferred to the United Kingdom to the Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch on 10 July 1917. Robert had been hit by shrapnel and had a gunshot wound to his right hand. He lost his fourth finger on his left hand to the shrapnel and they had to amputate his little finger on his right hand. Robert's fitness for duty was reclassified B3 and told to report to Codford.

On 14 November 1917, Rifleman Fifield was again admitted to the New Zealand Command Depot at Codford, this time with Scabies, however this was not to be his last visit to the hospital. On 23 January 1918 Robert contracted mumps and was admitted to the No 3 New Zealand Command Depot before being returned and attached to his units strength at Codford on 5 February 1918. Robert was eventually classified unfit by the medical board in England on 13 May 1918 and placed on the New Zealand Roll for repatriation to New Zealand. He embarked onboard the Mokoia from Plymouth on 30 May 1918. Another Medical Board was assembled on 26 June 1918 at sea on HMNZT Mokoia. The Board came to the same conclusion.

Rifleman Fifield was discharged on 13 August 1918, on account of being no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action. He had been in the army for 2 years and 132 days, he received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

After his return to New Zealand Robert married Emily Beatrice Rice. Robert lived a long life and died on 16 May 1983 in Gisborne, New Zealand and is buried in the Taruheru Cemetery.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [16 September 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref, AABK 18805 W5539 0039812). [26 September 2016].

External Links

Related Documents

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Researched and Written by

Dianne Hall

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