COLVILLE, Cecil Frederick
(Service number 24/1620)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Private


Date 24 June 1891 Place of Birth Temuka

Enlistment Information

Date 18 October 1915 Age 24 years
Address at Enlistment Tinwald
Occupation Blacksmith
Previous Military Experience 2nd South Canterbury Regiment - still serving
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Fred COLVILLE (father), Tinwald, Ashburton
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 6 inches. Weight 146 lbs. Chest measurement 36-38½ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes grey. Hair red-brown. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing & colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth - false upper, good lower. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits.

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 3rd Reinforcements, 2nd Battalion, F Company
Date 8 January 1916
Transport Tahiti or Warrimoo
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European (France)
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

2 April 1916 admitted to NZ General Hospital at Cairo, & to NZ Convalescent Home at Helonan on 15 April, suffering with catarrhal bronchitis. 17 July 1916 admitted to No. 1 NZ Field Ambulance, suffering with influenza. 15 September 1916 sent to hospital – sick. Admitted, in succession, to No. 140 Field Ambulance, No. 1 NZ Field Ambulance, & No. 18 General Hospital at Camiers.

Post-war Occupations


Date 28 November 1916 Age 25 years
Place of Death Somme, France
Cause Killed in action
Memorial or Cemetery Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Ermentieres, Nord, France
Memorial Reference III. B. 5.
New Zealand Memorials Ashburton War Memorial

Biographical Notes

Cecil Frederick Colville was the first-born of Frederick and Sarah Jane (née Collins) Colville. He was born on 24 June 1891 at Temuka. Cecil came from Eketahuna School to Temuka School in 1899 and then moved to Waimate School a few months later. Fred, a blacksmith and wheelwright, and Sarah were living in the Temuka district in the early 1890s, before selling up their business and moving to Eketahuna in mid 1896. Mr Colville was of an inventive nature and had patented seed cleaning and separating machinery. In August 1915, both Cecil and his brother Percival were selected to represent the Ashburton Football Club in a match against Anama.

Cecil had registered for the Ambulance service at Ashburton in June 1915 and enlisted on 18 October 1915, aged 24 years. A blacksmith like his father, single, and of Church of England allegiance, he was living at Tinwald and nominated his father as next-of-kin – Fred Colville, Tinwald, Ashburton. He stood at 5 feet 6 inches, weighed 146 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 36-38½ inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes grey, and his hair red-brown. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all normal, as were his heart and lungs, and his limbs and chest were well formed. He had false upper teeth and good lower ones. He was in good bodily and mental health, free of diseases, defects and fits, and was vaccinated. He had been previously rejected as unfit for the military force on account of his teeth. Cecil had served with the 2nd South Canterbury Regiment, and was still serving.

C. F. Colville left for Trentham on 18 October, with South Canterbury’s quota for the Ninth Reinforcements. A large number of Ashburton folk turned out to farewell 77 men, who were “mostly of fine physique, and altogether of the stamp required”. After falling-in at the drill shed, the men were treated to “a good repast”. The Rev. G. Miller bade them farewell on behalf of the residents and expressed their pleasure in seeing “such a fine lot of fellows prepared to fight for their King and country”. They should trust in God when facing the foe, he continued. “Besides their own strong arms and their guns, they needed the Almighty to help them through. . . . . We pray God to bless you and keep you while you are away. . . . . and trust that you will come back safely when you have done your duty,” he concluded. The departing soldiers marched to the railway station, headed by the Ashburton Citizens’ Defence Corps Band, and there they joined the men from Timaru upwards and left to the strains of “Auld Lang Syne”.

Rifleman C. F. Colville embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade of the 3rd Reinforcements, leaving Wellington on 8 January 1916, destined for Suez, Egypt. Having disembarked at Suez on 8 February, he joined the 2nd Battalion of the Canterbury Infantry Regiment at Moascar on 10 March. On 2 April 1916 he was admitted to the New Zealand General Hospital at Cairo, and to the New Zealand Convalescent Home at Helonan on 15 April, suffering with catarrhal bronchitis. After discharge to the New Zealand Base Depot at Ismailia, he embarked at Alexandria on 10 May per the “Caledonia” for France. On 17 July he was admitted to the No. 1 New Zealand Field Ambulance, this time suffering with influenza. A month later he rejoined his Unit, only to be sent to hospital – sick – on 15 September. He was admitted, in succession, to the No. 140 Field Ambulance, the No. 1 New Zealand Field Ambulance, and the No. 18 General Hospital at Camiers. It was 1 November when he rejoined his Unit.

Private Cecil Frederick Colville was killed in action on 28 November 1916 at the Somme, France, aged 25 years. Casualty List No. 470, issued on 14 December, carried this information. He was buried in Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery at Armentieres, France. All his service was in France. His medals – British War Medal and Victory Medal – were sent to his mother , Mrs Sarah Jane Colville, while the scroll and plaque were despatched to his father, Fred Colville, both of Harland Street, Tinwald, Ashburton. By his paybook Will, he left everything he possessed in favour of his mother, Mrs J. Colville, Ashburton.

In the course of one year, Cecil Colville had gone from being a fit, active young man, to leaving home, celebrating his 25th birthday in the battle field far from home, and losing his life. The Battle of the Somme began for the New Zealand troops on 15 September 1916, when they got the signal to “go over the top and face the deadly expanse of no-man’s land”. [The Battle of the Somme – National Army Museum.] In just 45 days, more than 2100 men were lost.

His brother Percival Lawrence Colville also served in World War One, as did three cousins – Robert Arthur Colville, Alfred Colville and Leslie Graham Colville; and an uncle, Robert Colville of Temuka, a married man with two children, was listed on the Reserve Roll. Two younger brothers, William Francis Colville and Lewis Eric Colville, were drawn in ballot for World War II. Frederick Colville died in 1938 at Westport, and Sarah Jane in 1946 at her daughter’s residence in Auckland. By February 1928, a list of names had been compiled for the Ashburton War Memorial, and it was on 4 June (the King’s birthday) that it was unveiled in a very impressive ceremony. Three volleys were fired, the Last Post was sounded, the Dead March was played by the Band, the hymn, “O Valiant Hearts” was sung, and then the Memorial was handed over. Following the Mayor’s address, the hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” was sung, a scripture passage was read, and a special prayer was recited. After another address, the unveiling was performed by the Hon. F. J. Rolleston. The Benediction was pronounced, the National Anthem sung, and many beautiful wreaths were laid. The inscription on the memorial, where the name of Cecil Frederick Colville is recorded with 432 others, reads – “Ye who pass this way hold in memory the men of Ashburton County who gave their lives for their country 1914 – 1918. They, whose names are here inscribed, were numbered among those who at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger and finally passed from the sight of men, by the path of duty and self sacrifice, giving up their lives that others might live in freedom.” A photograph of Cecil Frederick Colville is published in "Onward: Portraits of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force", Volume 4 - P. J. Beattie and M. J. Pomeroy.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [21 October 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK18805 W5530 0027265) [04 November 2016]; CWGC [21 October 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [21 October 2016]; School Admission record (South Canterbury Branch NZSG); Ashburton Guardian, 18 June 1915, 4 August 1915, 19 October 1915, 29 February 1928, 2 & 4 June 1928, Timaru Herald, 18 October 1915, Star, 15 December 1916, North Otago Times, 15 December 1916, Taranaki Herald, 15 December 1916 (Papers Past) [05 November 2016; 16 May 2020; 28 June 2020; 05 July 2020]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [16 May 2020]; [05/07/2020]; Ashburton War Memorial image ( [05/07/2020]; “Onward: Portraits of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force” (held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG)

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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