PELVIN, James Frederick
(Service number N/N)

First Rank Last Rank


Date 14 August 1891 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 16 May 1918 Age 26 years
Address at Enlistment Timaru
Occupation Motor mechanic
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Married. Two children.
Next of Kin
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 5¾ inches. Weight 120 lbs. Chest measurement 31-33 inches. Complexion sallow. Eyes grey. Hair dark. Both eyes 6/6. Hearing & colour vision normal. Chest well formed. Heart – Tachycardia. Lungs not normal. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Not good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. No notifications for consumption. Never under treatment in a sanatorium or mental institution. Absent from work – 6 months – Pleurisy (Aspirated) & Pneumonia – 7 years ago; 9 weeks – double Pneumonia – Dec 1917. Scar below left Scapula. Determining Disability – Phthisis. Classified D.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation
Unit, Squadron, or Ship
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Service Medals
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 4 October 1918 Age 27 years
Place of Death Timaru Hospital, Timaru
Cause Influenza
Notices Timaru Herald, 7 October 1918; Star, 7 October 1918; Lyttelton Times, 7 October 1918
Memorial or Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Memorial Reference General Section, Row 1, Plot 143
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

James Frederick Pelvin was born on 14 August 1891 at Timaru, the only child of James Richard and Mary (née O’Gorman) Pelvin, who had married on 5 February 1890 at Timaru. His mother died on 6 August 1892, when little James was not a year old. James Richard Pelvin married Catherine McDonald in 1896 at Dunedin. Catherine died on 5 March 1924 at Timaru Hospital. James, senior, lived on till 1936 when he died on 13 June at Timaru Hospital, of Waitohi, and was buried with his son James Frederick and infant grandson. Young James started his schooling at Timaru South School, leaving in December 1901 for Glenavy, but instead turning up at Tawai School in March 1902, when his father and step-mother moved there. It is likely that Mr Pelvin had relatives in the Waimate district. At the Waimate Caledonian games in December 1911, J. F. Pelvin started in the Mile and a-half Bicycle Handicap, but pulled out. He also started in the One Mile Bicycle Handicap.

[Timaru Herald. 14 April 1913.] ‘On Saturday afternoon, between half-past four and five o’clock another bad motor car accident happened, and three occupants of the vehicle had narrow escapes from being killed. A young man named J. F. Pelvin, a well known and careful local taxi-car driver, left about 4.30 p.m. bound for Waimate, those in the car — an elderly and a young man — being his relations, who had commissioned the car specially for the trip. When going at a normal pace along King Street a small terrier dog rushed out on to the road, barking furiously at the passing taxi. In some way the dog became entangled in the spokes of the left-hand front wheel, and was apparently carried round by the wheel until he struck against the steering cross-bar which guides the front wheels. This instantly had the effect of turning the wheels to the left and the tyre came off and burst, as the vehicle came in to violent contact with one of the drainage pipe ventilators on the left-hand side of the street, at the corner of William street. Despite the short notice the driver had the engines shut off and the brakes on. All the occupants were thrown out heavily but, marvellous to relate, none received serious injury. A large crowd soon assembled on the scene, and the employees from Mr J. Storrier’s foundry were first on the spot, and rendered help to the victims of the accident. The younger of the two passengers was dragged out from under the car, one wheel of which was on the footpath, his injuries consisting of a badly cut hand. The elderly man sustained a bruise on his forehead, but the driver of the car was found to have fared worse, his injuries consisting of a piece of glass in his shoulder, a sprained thumb and cut hand. Although walking about and looking on to all appearance quite cool and collected, he was really quite unconscious, till medical aid was rendered, when he was conveyed to the hospital. He was yesterday making speedy recovery. The reinforced concrete base pillar of the drainage vent-pipe which the car struck, bears marks of the heavy impact. The car, which was towed into Mr Storrier’s foundry yard, was practically ruined, the front part being bashed and smashed in all directions. The radiator portion had been put on only a few days previously. . . . . Speaking to a “Herald” reporter yesterday the chauffeur [sic] of the car gave the following statement: - “I had just left town for Waimate with two passengers, both relations. When just on the corner approaching the foundry a stray terrier dog chased the car and got into the front wheel on the left-hand side and skidded the car into the post on to the left side of the road, at the foundry gate. The car would be travelling at about eight miles an hour at the time, and it struck the post with a crash with the radiator. I had the engine shut off and the brakes full on. All I remembered after that was a glimpse of the dog still under the wheel of the car, and this was as I found myself leaving the spot in another car. I would like you to mention that stray dogs of this kind are a curse in this town and we taxi-cab and car-drivers know it. I think that dogs that chase cars and other vehicles are extremely dangerous amongst traffic and should be destroyed.” It may be added that the clog which caused this accident was forgotten immediately after the accident, and it remained pinned under the car for ten minutes. When released it scampered away bespattered with blood.’

James Frederick Pelvin married Christina Isabella Colvill on 15 September 1914 at Timaru, taking up residence in Roslyn Terrace. In March 1917, J. F. Pelvin, 9 York Street, Timaru, wanted to sell his closed-in taxi (12 months old; guaranteed in good order) for £160. In May following, J. F. Pelvin, a farmer-taxi owner, was fined £25 at the Timaru Supreme Court on conviction on a charge of perjury in denying the ownership of a car in order to avoid a claim for damages. The claim for damages brought against him as for the loss of a dog which it was said his car had run over and killed. Pelvin pleaded guilty and, in view of his good character, he was fined instead of imprisonment. J. F. Pelvin, taxi proprietor, Timaru, went to court in January 1918 for the sum of £2, being an amount alleged for taxi hire between Timaru and Makikihi. The case was adjourned.

James was listed on the 2nd Division Reserve Rolls in 1917 when he had one child. James Alexander Pelvin was born on 4 April 1915 at Timaru. Frederick Bruce Pelvin was born on 23 March 1917. Married with two small children and working as a self-employed motor mechanic, James completed his attestation on 16 May 1918 at Timaru. He was one of the Class “B” men called up from the Second Division Reservists (Seventeenth Ballot). His address was then 9 York Street, Timaru. James did not pass his medical examination conducted on 16 May 1918 by the Travelling Medical Board, however. He was 5 feet 5¾ inches, weighed 120 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 31-33 inches. His complexion was sallow, his eyes grey, and his hair dark. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all normal, and his chest was well formed. He was free of diseases, had had no fits or notifications for consumption, and had never been under treatment in a sanatorium or mental institution. He did have a scar below his left Scapula. But there were multiple issues – heart (tachycardia); lungs not normal; bodily and mental health not good. He had been absent from work for 6 months, with pleurisy (aspirated) and pneumonia 7 years ago; and for 9 weeks, with double pneumonia, in December 1917. His determining disability being phthisis, he was classified D. He had never been discharged from H.M. Service.

So, James Frederick Pelvin had volunteered but saw no service. Mr J. F. Pelvin gave 10 shillings to the Prisoners of War fund in June 1918. By October 1918, James and Christina were resident at Claremont. He died on 4 October 1918 at Timaru Hospital, a victim of the influenza epidemic, aged 27 years. He was buried in Timaru Cemetery with his younger son, Frederick Bruce Pelvin, who had died on 5 July 1918, aged 15 months. Letters of Administration of the estate of James Frederick Pelvin were granted to his widow, Christina Isabella Pelvin. Two brothers of Christina – Thomas Alexander Colvill and Alexander Colvill – who had served in World War One, gave surety to the Court on her behalf. While in hospital, James had informed Christina that he had not made a Will and asked her to arrange for a solicitor to call on him, but he died before Christina visited him again. In 1919 a notice was inserted in the Timaru Herald by “his loving wife and son” in loving memory of James Frederick Pelvin, who died on 4 October 1918, and their infant son Frederick Bruce Pelvin, who died on 5 July 1918 – “Though lost to sight to memory dear.”

Christina Isabella Pelvin married Albert Victor Dunnill, a returned soldier, on 28 January 1920 at Timaru. Christina and Albert lived at Gleniti, her son, James Alexander Pelvin entering Claremont School in 1921. He transferred to Seadown in 1926 and went on to Temuka D.H.S. in 1930, at which time Christina was at Waitohi. Sadly, Christina was widowed again on 19 October 1924. In 1947, she married Albert’s brother, Charles Edward Dunnill. Christina died on 10 April 1972 at Timaru and was buried with Charles at Temuka. Her son, James Alexander Pelvin, died suddenly on 18 October 1977 at his Temuka residence, survived by his wife, one daughter, six sons and 16 grandchildren, and was buried at Temuka.

James' father, James Richard Pelvin, lived in Timaru until 1902 when he moved to Redcliff near Waimate. He and Catherine spent a few years in Hawke’s Bay from 1908 and then in Otago from 1911. Sometime in the war years they moved to Claremont, perhaps to be closer to James and Christina, and in the mid-1920s James moved to Lower Waitohi. It appears that Christina was close to her father-in-law in her widowhood. In 1947 she married Charles Edward Dunnill, a brother of Albert. The Dunnill family lived in York Street when four brothers enlisted. Some of the brothers were farming at Gleniti in the 1920s.


NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5550 0091745) [10 November 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [09 November 2016]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [09 & 11 November 2016; 08 June 2023]; Timaru Cemetery headstone image & burial records (Timaru District Council) [09 November 2016]; North Otago Times, 27 December 1911, Timaru Herald, 14 April 1913, 28 November 1916, 25 May 1917, 31 January 1918, 18 June 1918, 6 July 1918, 7 October 1918 [x 2], 4 October 1919, 6 & 7 March 1924, 15 June 1936, Waimate Advertiser, 14 April 1913, Southland Times, 3 March 1917, Evening Post, 25 May 1917, Press, 25 April 1918, 11 April 1972, Star, 7 October 1918, Lyttelton Times, 7 October 1918 (Papers Past) [09, 10 & 11 November 2016; 08 June 2023]; Probate record (Archives NZ/Family Search) [10 November 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [08, 09 & 10 June 2023]; Timaru Herald, 11 April 1972 (Timaru District Library) [14 November 2016]

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