ATWILL, Thomas
(Service number 14049)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 4 May 1879 Place of Birth Waimate, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 9 March 1916 Age 36
Address at Enlistment C/O S. Jacobs, Waimate, New Zealand
Occupation Storekeeper (self employed)
Previous Military Experience 4 years, Waimate Rifles
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Edwin John Atwill (father), Queen Street, Waimate, New Zealand
Religion Methodist
Medical Information 5 foot 7 inches tall, weight 129 pounds (59 kgs), chest 31 1/2 - 33 1/2 inches, fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 5th Reinforcements, 3rd Battalion, G Company
Date 26 June 1916
Transport HMNZT 56 Tahiti
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Plymouth, England
Other Units Served With NZ Salvage Company
Last Unit Served With NZ Rifle Brigade

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 8 July 1918 Reason No longer fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service (bronchitis)

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

15 November - 23 December 1916 - admitted to 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station - sick. 19 August 1917 - admitted to Canadian General Hospital - transferred to 5 Convalescent Depot - then to Base Depot on 3 November. 6 December 1917 - Medically Boarded and sent back to England on 15 December. 8 January 1918 - admitted to 3 NZ General Hospital - bronchitis - Returned to NZ ex-SS Maunganui on 2 Feb 1918.

Post-war Occupations

Fruiterer, Railway employee, Labourer


Date 2 November 1958 Age 78 years
Place of Death Christchurch, New Zealand
Notices Timaru Herald, 3 November 1958
Memorial or Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Memorial Reference Gen Section, Row 129, Plot 199
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Thomas, second son of Edwin John Moses (1845-1919) and Elizabeth Ann (1844-1883 nee Goldsworthy) was born at Waimate on 4 May 1879. 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 Edwin married Elizabeth, a daughter of Mr Goldsworthy, of Devonshire, and had a family of three sons and two daughters. After Elizabeth died in 1883, he remarried in 1905, Mrs Annie Jane Ottley (1867-1909 nee Lack).

At his time of enlisting on 9 March 1916, Thomas was a self-employed storekeeper and gave his address as care of S. Jacobs, Waimate, and his next of kin his father, Mr Edwin John Atwill of Waimate. Thomas was described as being single, aged 36 years, Methodist, 5 foot 7 inches tall, weighing 129 pounds (59 kgs), chest measuring 31 ½ to 33 ½ inches, of fair complexion, grey eyes and having brown hair. After training with the NZ Rifle Brigade (NZRB), he left Wellington on 26 June 1916 aboard HMNZT 56 SS Tahiti, with the 5th Reinforcements, G Company, 3rd Battalion NZRB, destination Devonport, England.

Arriving on 22 August he marched into Sling Camp, where, after further training, he left for France on 19 September, and was posted to B Company, 4th Battalion, NZRB on 3 October 1916. The brigade's first major offensive had taken place on 15 September during the Battle of the Somme, as part of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. On 15 November 1916 he was admitted sick to 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station before re-joining his unit on 23 December. On 1 May to 26 June 1917 he had a short attachment to the NZ Salvage Company. When he returned to his unit, they were heavily involved in the Battle of Messines.

Thomas was again admitted sick to the Canadian General Hospital on 19 August 1917, and transferred to Base Depot on 3 November, ex 5 Convalescent Depot. After examination by a Medical Board on 6 December, he was sent back to Sling Camp England 15 December, and on 8 January 1918, was admitted to 3 NZ General Hospital with bronchitis. On 2 February 1918 at Liverpool, he boarded the SS Maunganui for his return to New Zealand. After having served a total of 2 years and 122 days, Thomas was discharged from the army on 8 July 1918 as no longer fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service. He was later awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for this service.

Thomas returned to Waimate and in 1919, where he was living at High Street employed as a fruiterer. In 1920 he married Miss Edith Annie Keene Downward (1890-1949), daughter of Peter and Mary Downward, and they went on to have five children. From 1921 to 1935 they are listed as living at 19 Fife Street, Christchurch, where he was working as a railway employee. From 1938 to 1954 he was living at 5 Buchanan Street, Timaru, where he worked as a labourer. From 1954 to 1957 he was listed at 37 Manchester Street, Christchurch as a war pensioner. Thomas died in Christchurch on 2 November 1958 at the age of 78, and is buried in the Timaru Cemetery with his wife Edith.

Two of Thomas’ brothers also served during World War 1: 47300 Private Joseph Henry Atwill who served in France with the Canterbury Infantry Regiment; 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; Timaru District Council cemetery records at; 'Roll of honour' in the Timaru Herald 21 January 1918 p8, courtesy of Papers Past at

External Links

Related Documents

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Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

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