(Service number 5127)

Aliases Enlisted as Michael MURPHY
First Rank Private Last Rank


Date 12 March 1882 Place of Birth Waimate (Wymatti), South Island, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 15 October 1915 Age 33 years 7 months
Address at Enlistment Wonga Plains via Bowenville, Queensland
Occupation Engine driver
Previous Military Experience Christchurch Volunteers - 3 years
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin William MURPHY (brother), 36 Sydney Street, Spreydon, Christchurch, New Zealand. Later amended to Mrs DELANEY (mother), 98 Barrington Street, Spreydon, Christchurch, New Zealand
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 9 inches. Weight 168 lbs. Chest measurement 39½ inches. Complexion ruddy. Eyes brown. Hair brown. Free from scrofula; phthisis; syphilis; impaired constitution; defective intelligence; defects of vision, voice or hearing; hernia; haemorrhoids, varicose veins, beyond a limited extent; marked varicocele with unusually pendent testicle; inveterate cutaneous disease; chronic ulcers; traces of corporal punishment, or evidence of having been marked with the letters D. or B.C.; contracted or deformed chest; abnormal curbature of spine; or any other disease or physical defect calculated to unfit him for the duties of a soldier. Can see the required distance with either eye. Heart & lungs healthy. Free use of joints & limbs. Not subject to fits of any description. No vaccination mark - vaccinated 7 February 1916.

Military Service

Served with Australian Imperial Force Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 16th Reinforcement
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 9th Battalion
Date 31 March 1916
Transport Star of Victoria
Embarked From Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European (Passchendaele)
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 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations


Date 11 October 1917 Age 35 years
Place of Death Passchendaele, France
Cause Killed in action
Notices Star, 20 November 1917
Memorial or Cemetery Passchendaele New British Cemetery, France
Memorial Reference XIII. C. 17.
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

John Delaney was born on 12 March 1882 at Waimate, the second son of Irish-born William Delaney and his English-born wife Clara née Tee. John, an older brother and an older sister were born in South Canterbury. They were all baptised Roman Catholic on 19 July 1882 at Waimate. Within two years of John's birth the family had moved to Christchurch where several more children were born. W. Delaney was a member of the Sacred Heart, Addington, Church and School Committee on the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone for a new school, in December 1913. This was the school which John’s younger brother Edward attended. He is likely the John Delaney who was charged with being drunk whilst in charge of a horse and cart on the Lincoln road, and was fined 10 shillings and costs, in June 1911. John was still living at home in 1911 and 1914, employed as a railway engine driver, which occupation he gave on enlistment. His father died in July 1915, aged 71 years, and is buried in the Sydenham Cemetery. Mrs Delaney who was some twenty years younger, lived for over thirty years as a widow, dying in 1947 at the age of 85.

For unknown reason, John Delaney enlisted under the name Michael Murphy, doing so on 15 October 1915 at Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. He gave as his next-of-kin his brother - William Murphy, 36 Sydney Street, Spreydon, Christchurch. This was indeed, the address of John's older brother, William Delaney. The authorities knew well before his death that he was John Delaney, and not Michael Murphy. Private Michael Murphy - that is, John Delaney - embarked on 31 March 1916, at Sydney, New South Wales, per the Star of Victory. He was attached to the 9th Battalion, 16th Reinforcement of the Australian Imperial Force. Thirty-three years old, single (as per attestation form) and Roman Catholic, he stood at 5 feet 9 inches, weighed 168 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 39½ inches. He was free of any diseases and deformities. He could see the required distance with either eye. His heart and Lungs were healthy. He had the free use of his joints and limbs. He declared that he was not subject to fits of any description. His complexion was ruddy, eyes were blue and hair brown. John stated that he had previously served for three years with the Christchurch Volunteers. He noted that his father was deceased and gave as his address, Wonga Plains via Bowenville, Queensland.

In May 1916 Private Murphy was re-allotted to the 49th Battalion. He disembarked at Port Said on 5 May 1916, at Alexandria on 7 June and at Marseilles a week later. His first indiscretion occurred on 10 August 1916 at Etaples – absent without leave from two parades, for which he forfeited one day’s pay. The second incident occurred in the Field on 27 August – absenting himself from his billet after 8.30 pm and neglecting to obey an order, for which he was awarded “10 days F.P.” forfeiture of pay. Just a week later, 3 September 1916, John (aka Michael) suffered a gunshot wound to his right arm. He was admitted to no. 5 General Hospital at Rouen before embarking on the Hospital Ship Asturias for England, and being admitted to the First Southern General Hospital, Kings Heath, Birmingham. On 11 October he marched in to the Command Depot from hospital; on 28 November he reported back to the Command Depot from furlough and was classified A; and on 31 December he proceeded overseas to France, to rejoin his unit in the Field on 18 January 1917.

7 June 1917, John Delaney was wounded in action for the second time – a gunshot wound to the thigh. He was admitted to the 11th Casualty Clearing Station and from there to the Scottish Hospital at St Omer. The advice to his brother was that he had been slightly wounded. On 2 July he was able to rejoin his unit with the 49th Battalion. John Delaney was killed in action on 11 October 1917 at Passchendaele, as reported on 20 October 1917 by the Officer commanding the 49th Battalion, A.I.F. He was 35 years old. W. Murphy, 36 Sydney Street, Spreydon, Christchurch, brother, was the one to receive the telegram advice. A notice in the Star of 20 November 1917 gives his name as John Joseph Delaney, the second son of Mrs C. Delaney, Spreydon. Private M. Murphy, 5127, is buried in the Passchendaele New British Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission record and other records were later amended to read John Delaney, 5127.

Somewhat surprisingly, but perhaps for legal or identification reasons, William wrote as W. Murphy to the Base Records Office in Melbourne, in October 1918, requesting that the personal effects of “Michael Murphy, my brother”, from both France and Brisbane, be sent to him. He stated that Michael had left a tin trunk in Brisbane on about 20 February 1916 when his address was Pt. M. Murphy, 16th Reinforcements, 9th Battalion, Exhibition Camp, Brisbane, Queensland. The tin trunk was located, but no personal effects had been received from abroad. It seems that William may have known from the outset that John had enlisted as Michael Murphy. On the receipt for his medals by registered post, his mother wrote: “I, his Mother, thank you for sending them to me. C. Delaney.” Mrs Clara Delaney received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal in May 1922. A few months later she received the memorial plaque for No. 5127 Pte. M. Murphy, 49th Battn. John's father had died in Christchurch just a few months before John enlisted. In November 1921, William Delaney, John’s brother, declared before a J.P. in Christchurch and wrote accordingly to the authorities, declaring that Michael Murphy was an assumed name. And in January 1922, he acknowledged that they had amended the records to read – ‘Stated to be John Delaney”, and he explained that he had given them his mother’s address, as his father had died. The grave headstone bears the corrected inscription as requested by the Officer in charge of Base Records – “John Delaney, served as M. Murphy”.

In April 1936 the New Plymouth District Public Trustee wrote to the Defence Department, with regard to the estate of Mary Hally, seeking a death certificate for Private John Delaney (“who served as Michael Murphy No. 5127 49th Bn. Australian Infantry, and who was killed in action on 11th October, 1917.”) A copy of the report of death was duly sent. The relationship between Mary Hally (née Cushman/Cushnan) and John Delaney, 5127, has now been confirmed, and may explain John Delaney’s change of name. Mary Hally, a widow, had a nephew James Patrick Delaney, who along with Mary’s sister and brother – Martha and James Cushnan – was granted administration of her estate in 1935. John Joseph Delaney, 23 years old, had married Annie Cushnan on 8 February 1906 in the South Dunedin Catholic Parish. Both John and Annie were resident in Kensington Avenue, Kensington, Dunedin, in 1905. They were the parents of James Patrick born in 1908 at Dunedin. This was, it is believed, the same John Delaney who was killed in action in 1917. Annie’s sister, Mary Cushnan, married William Hally in 1897; there were no children of the marriage. Mary and Annie were the only members of their family to marry. At various times from the late 1920s, widow Annie, widow Mary, their sister Martha, and their brothers James and Patrick were all living in the New Plymouth area, sometimes at the same Dawson Street address. Buried together in Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth, are many of the Cushnan family – their widowed mother Mary Ann Cushnan, Patrick, Annie (Annie Josephine Delaney, who died in 1930) and Mary (Hally); in another plot are Martha and James. When James Cushnan died in 1959, administration of his estate was granted to James Patrick Delaney, his nephew and only living relative. James Patrick was required to provide evidence of the deaths of his grandparents, his mother and all his uncles and aunts.

John Joseph Delaney and Annie née Cushnan seem to have gone their separate ways, maybe even before the birth of their son. John Joseph Delaney failed to appear in the Dunedin City Police Court in July 1911, on a charge of failing to provide for the maintenance of his wife, Annie Delaney, and his child. An advocate for Annie applied for a maintenance order, a guardianship order, and a separation order. Annie had left her husband because of his threatening behaviour and his drunkenness, and had gone to live with her mother. Annie Dealaney was indeed, with her mother and some siblings at Caversham in 1911 through to 1919 or later; whilst John was residing with his family at Spreydon, Christchurch, and was in constant employment as an engine driver at Southbridge. Annie returned to her husband for a year but had to leave, whereupon he sold her furniture and cut up her clothing. The three orders were made and J. J. Delaney was required to pay 25 shilling per week for his wife and child. Quite probably this same John Delaney had been charged and fined the month before for being in charge of a horse and cart on the Lincoln road. Three years on, he was charged with failing to comply with the maintenance order and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment in the Auckland Gaol. Although he had forwarded money fairly regularly, the amounts were always short. The warrant was to be suspended on condition that the order was kept up and the arrears paid off at the rate of £9 a month. The next known record of John Delaney is his enlistment, as Michael Murphy, in October 1915 in Australia.

Private John Delaney, 5127, also known as M. Murphy, is remembered on the Australian War Memorial. His brother Edward Delaney (born in 1896 at Christchurch) died of wounds on 6 October 1917 in France. By this time the family knew that John was serving with the Australians in France and had been twice wounded, but had not yet, it appears, been notified of his death just five days later. Three other younger brothers were called up and also enlisted - Thomas, Michael and James. James and Thomas were both in camp when Edward and John died. James deserted from camp and took a false name before his arrest; he saw overseas service later in 1918. Thomas served in Western Europe before his discharge on account of wounds. Michael, who enlisted in 1918, was court-martialled in 1920 for desertion and negligence. Perhaps these men had been affected by the deaths of two brothers within the space of six days.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [05 October 2016]; Australian Military Forces - Australian Imperial Force records (National Archives of Australia digital copy ref. B2455) [05 October 2016]; CWGC [05 October 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [05 October 2016]; Press, 21 December 1903, 10 June 1911, Sun, 12 July 1915, 18 October 1917, Otago Daily Times, 29 July 1911, 11 July 1914, 1 September 1925, Evening Star, 10 July 1914, New Zealand Tablet, 1 November 1917, Star, 20 November 1917 (Papers Past) [05 & 06 October 2016; 06 & 09 March 2018]; Sydenham Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [05 October 2016]; New Zealand Electoral Rolls ( [06 October 2016]; Te Henui Cemetery headstone transcriptions (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [March 2018]; Otago-Southland Roman Catholic Marriages (South Canterbury Branch NZSG microfiches collection) [07 March 2018]; Roman Catholic Baptisms index (Christchurch Diocese CD held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [11 March 2018]

External Links

Related Documents

Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to


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