(Service number 33734)

First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 16 October 1895 Place of Birth Waipara, Otago

Enlistment Information

Date 20 September 1916 Age 20 years 9 months
Address at Enlistment Pareora East
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs H.J.H. Knowles, James St, Balclutha
Religion Baptist
Medical Information West was 20 years and 9 months old when he enlisted. He was 5 feet 7 invhes tall and weighed 9st 9lb and had a chest measurement of between 33 1/2 and 37 inches. He was described as having a fresh complexion with grey eyes and light brown hair.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment
Unit, Squadron, or Ship C Company 21st Reinforcements
Date 21 January 1917
Transport HMNZT 74 Ulimaroa
Embarked From Wellington, N.Z. Destination Plymouth, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With 1st Canterbury Infantry Battalion

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
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 21 October 1919 Reason Discharged on termination of period of engagement.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

8 December 1917 - New Zealand Field Hospital, France Australian General Hospital, Rouen, Bathurst, England (severe trench foot)

Post-war Occupations


Date Age
Place of Death
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

West Knowles was born on 16 October 1895, in Waipara, Otago, to Mrs H. J. H. Knowles of James Street, Balclutha. After West left home he moved to Pareora East where he went to work as a labourer for Mr Samuel Hanson. West also joined the No 46 Company of the Senior Cadets in Waimate.

West undertook his medical examination to join the army in Christchurch on 25 July 1916. Captain Guthrie of the New Zealand Medical Corps described him as being 20 years and 9 months old, 5 f00t 7 inches tall, and weighing 9 st 9 lb, with a chest measurement of between 33 1/2 and 37 inches in diameter. He was of a fresh complexion, with grey eyes and light brown hair. His religion was listed as Baptist. On 20 September 1916, West signed his attestation papers and swore his allegience to the King in front of Lieutenant O. Henry in Trentham Military Camp when he enlisted to fight in World War One.

After finishing his basic training at Trentham, Private Knowles joined C Company, 21st Reinforcements, 1st Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment and embarked at Wellington on HMNZT 74 'Ulimaroa' with the 21st Reinforcements New Zealand Expeditionary Force. In convoy with HMNZT 75 'Waitemata' they arrived in Plymouth on 27 March 1917, and then marched into Sling Camp where Knowles was transferred to the Canterbury Company of the 4th Reserve Battalion. After extra training at Sling, Private Knowles left for France on 28 May 1917, and was taken on strenght at the New Zealand Infantry Base Depot and Etaples. From which he joined the 1st Canterbury Infantry Regiment in the field on 19 June 1917.

On 30 September 1917, Private Knowles was at the New Zealand wing of the Reinforcement Camp behind the front line, where he stayed for three weeks before returning to his Battalion in the field on 25 October 1917. Several weeks later Private Knowles was evacuated from the field sick, and was admitted to the New Zealand Field Hospital in France on 8 December. The same day he was transferred to the Australian General Hospital at Rouen, France, before being transferred to Bathurst (suffering from severe trench foot) from 31 January 1918. Soon after he was transferred to the Hornchurch Convalescent Depot on 16 February 1918, and the on the 4 March he was given leave.

After recovery and leave Private Knowles was sent back to France, marching into Etaples on 19 May 1918. Four months later Private Knowles was reported missing on 30 September 1918. The War Department received a communicate confirming that Private Knowles was a prisoner and was unwounded on 19 November 1918. At the end of the war Private Knowles was released and from captivity and arrived in Ripon, North Yorkshire on 11 December 1918, and reported to the New Zealand Headquarters and was granted leave on the 14 December 1918 until 14 February 1919, when he is supposed to report to the New Zealand Convalescent Depot in Codford. While on leave, West Married Evelyn Ada Stintze, at Westminster in London, on 25 January 1919. He did not make it back from leave on time and he was fined 14 days pay and he had to pay the sum of 8/- for the cost of a railway warrant from Paddington to Codford.

Private Knowles embarked for return to New Zealand on board the 'Hororata' from Plymouth on 26 July 1919. On 21 October 1919, Private Knowles was discharged from the army. He received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his efforts in the 3 years and 33 days that he spent in the army of which he spent 2 years and 248 days in France, during the Western European Campaign.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [4 November 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5541 0065414 [17 November 2016]; "HMNZT: New Zealand Transport Ships" on Flotilla Australia at [28 January 2017]

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Researched and Written by

Dianne Hall

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