ATWILL, Joseph Henry
(Service number 47300)

First Rank Corporal Last Rank Private


Date 30 August 1877 Place of Birth Waimate, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 31 January 1917 Age 39
Address at Enlistment High Street, Waimate, New Zealand
Occupation Farmer
Previous Military Experience 3 years volunteers
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mr Edwin John ATWILL (father), Saddler, Waimate, New Zealand
Religion Methodist
Medical Information 5 foot 8 inches tall, weight 147 pounds (67kg), chest 35 1/2-38 inches, sallow complexion, blue eyes, fair hair

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 26th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company
Date 9 June 1917
Transport HMZNZT 85 Willochra
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Devonport, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With 1st Company, Canterbury Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Western Europe
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 July 1918 Reason No longer fit for war service on account of wounds received in action

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

27 March 1918 - Gunshot wound to left wrist; fr[actured?] carpus 3rd & 4th metacarpals - admitted to NZ Field Ambulance 29 March 1918 - transferred to 26th General Hospital. 1 April 1918 - embarked for England and admitted to City of London Hospital. 11 April 1918 - transferred to Brockenhurst [Hospital].

Post-war Occupations



Date 23 May 1967 Age 89 years
Place of Death Waimate, New Zealand
Memorial or Cemetery Waimate Lawn Cemetery
Memorial Reference RSA Section - plot 0016RSA000022
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Joseph, eldest son of Edwin John Moses (1845-1919) and Elizabeth Ann (1844-1883 nee Goldsworthy) Atwill, was born at Waimate on 30 August 1877. Edwin, his father was born in Devonshire and had served in HM Navy as a boy before coming out to New Zealand in the ship St Lawrence, arriving in Timaru in 1874. He then proceeded to Waimate, where he worked as a saddler, and was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1899. In 1868 he married a daughter of Mr Goldsworthy, of Devonshire, and had a family of three sons and two daughters. After Edwin’s wife Elizabeth died in 1883, he remarried in 1905 to Mrs Annie Jane Ottley (1867-1909 nee Lack).

Prior to enlisting on 31 January 1917 aged 39, Joseph was also working as a saddler in Waimate but recorded his occupation as a self employed farmer. He had been a volunteer soldier for three years, and in 1916, was on the 1st Division Reserve Roll. He was described as being single, Methodist, 5 foot 8 inches tall, weighing 147 pounds (67kgs), chest measuring 35 ½ - 38 inches, of sallow complexion, with blue eyes and fair hair, and his father was nominated as his next of kin. On 9 June 1917 he left from Wellington, as a Corporal, aboard the SS Willochra (HMZNT 85) with the 26th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company, arriving in Devonport, Devon, England on 16 August. Here they marched into Sling Camp where he immediately dropped his rank back to Lance Corporal.

Joseph left for France on 2 December 1917 and was posted on 5 January 1918, as a Private to 1 Company, Canterbury Infantry Regiment. On 21 March 1918 the Germans invaded the front line in force, creating the biggest crisis of the war for the Allies. A huge gap was torn in the front and the NZ Division and other troops were thrown into the gap to try and halt the oncoming enemy. Fighting on the old Somme battlefield of 1916, they managed, in their finest hour, to blunt the offensive. On 27 March Joseph was wounded in action, receiving a gunshot wound to his left wrist (fr[actured] carpus, 3rd and 4th matacarpals). He was admitted to the NZ Field Ambulance, then transferred to the 26th General Hospital on 29 March. On 1 April he was sent to England where he was admitted to the City of London General Hospital. Transfer followed to Brockenhurst on 11 April. Here he was medically boarded and classified as unfit. On 3 May 1918 he boarded the Hospital Ship Maheno at Avonmouth for his return to NZ, arriving home on 16 June. Discharge from the army as no longer fit for war service on account of wounds received in action followed on 13 July 1918. Having served a total of 1 year and 144 days, he was later awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal and received a pension of 10 shillings.

Returning to Waimate, Joseph continued in his trade of saddler, and in 1948 married Agnes Grace Ford. They lived the rest of their lives in Waimate where, on 23 May 1967, Joseph died aged 89 years. He is buried in the Waimate Lawn Cemetery in the RSA Section. Two other brothers also were called up for war service: 14049 Trooper Thomas Atwill who served with the 5th Reinforcements, NZ Rifle Brigade in France; and 16601 Private Mark Atwill who served at home with the Canterbury Mounted Rifle and later with the Medical Corps.


Auckland War memorial Museum Cenotaph Database (June 2017); New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at; Assorted records at Ancestry at; Waimate District Council cemetery records at; 'Waimate' in Cyclopedia of Canterbury [Canterbury Provincial District], The Cyclopedia Company, Limited, 1903, Christchurch, provided online by the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection at provides interesting details about his father Edwin John Atwill.

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Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

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