SCRIMSHAW, Harry Neill
(Service number 2/1326)

First Rank Gunner Last Rank Staff Sergeant


Date 7 January 1895 Place of Birth Christchurch, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 15 January 1915 Age 20
Address at Enlistment "Montrose", Wellington Terrace, Wellington, New Zealand
Occupation Civil Servant (Clerk)
Previous Military Experience Garrison Artillery Wellington
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mr Leonard George Scrimshaw (father), Main Street, Temuka, New Zealand
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information 5 foot 4 3/4 inches tall, weight 126 pounds (57 kgs), chest 32-36 inches, dark complexion, brown eyes, dark hair, good teeth

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 4th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship No 4 Battery NZ Field Artillery
Date 17 April 1915
Transport HMNZT 22 Knight Templer
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With 6 & 9 Battery NZ Field Artillery & NZEF HQ London, Audit Department
Last Unit Served With NZEF HQ London Audit Department

Military Awards

Campaigns Egypt, Balkans (Gallipoli), & Western Europe
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star, 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 2 May 1920 Reason End of engagement

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

17 September 1916 - gun shot wound to head - admitted to No 16 Aid Post ; 19 September transferred to No 8 General Hospital, Rouen; 20 September evacuated to England and admitted 21 September to 2nd London General Hospital, Chelsea; 24 October transferred to Convalescant Camp, Hornchurch; 26 October transferred NZ Com Depot, Codford.

Post-war Occupations

Clerk & Accountant


Date 9 November 1953 Age 58
Place of Death Wellington, New Zealand
Memorial or Cemetery Karori Crematorium
Memorial Reference Record No 12855
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Harry was born at Christchurch on January 7, 1895, the first son of Leonard George (1871-1954) and Bella (nee Neill, 1876-1956) Scrimshaw. His father was in business at Temuka as a cabinet maker and undertaker. Harry was educated at the Temuka Primary and Secondary Schools where, in 1908, he was awarded a South Canterbury Education Board Junior Scholarship and gained his standard 6 Proficiency exams. In 1909 he was granted a Junior National Scholarship and went on to sit his Civil Service exams in Timaru in 1911. In 1912 he became a cadet in the Treasury at Wellington, and passed his Civil Service senior exam in three subjects in 1913. During his time in Wellington he also found time to be a member of the Garrison Artillery. On the outbreak of war Harry enlisted giving his date of birth as August 3, 1894, which would have made him old enough for overseas service, but his actual date of birth was five month later. Whether he was found out or not is not known but he was not accepted until January 15, 1915, after he had turned 20 years of age. His younger brother Eric George Scrimshaw had also misquoted his age as being 20 when he was only 18 when he enlisted on October 20, 1914. At this time Harry was living at “Montrose”, Wellington Terrace, Wellington, and listed his occupation as Civil Servant, employed by Mr G Campbell, Secretary to the Treasurer, Wellington. He was small in stature, being only 5 foot 4 ¾ inches in height, weighing 126 pounds (57 kgs), his chest measuring 32–36 inches, of dark complexion, brown eyes, dark hair and he had good teeth. His religion was listed as ‘Scotch’ (Presbyterian) and he nominated his father, Leonard of Main Street, Temuka, as his next of kin. Posted to the NZ Field Artillery, he left with the 4th Reinforcements, Number 4 Battery, NZ Field Artillery, from Wellington on April 17, 1915, aboard HMNZT 22, Knight of the Garter. The Knight of the Garter carried 600 troops and 400 horses; the six week journey was through very rough seas with 23 horses dying on the voyage. They travelled in convoy with HMNZT 21, Willochra, and HMNZT23, Waitomo, a total of 2254 troops arriving in Egypt on May 25, 1915, after a short stop at Albany, Western Australia. Harry’s unit landed in Egypt when it was having the hottest period for many years and spent time on garrison duties on the Suez Canal before embarking for the Dardanelles on August 20, 1915. The 4th Battery was equipped with 4.5 inch howitzers which were not as destructive as the 18 pounder guns but had the ability to fire at a high angle which was invaluable amidst the hills at ANZAC. After returning to Egypt in December, they were marched into Moascar where Harry was transferred on February 28, 1916, to the 9th Battery which was part of the 2nd Brigade NZ Field Artillery. On March Harry he was promoted to Bombardier and embarked with his unit on April 7, 1916, from Alexandria aboard the SS Menominee. They ship arrived at Marseilles on April 14 with 1209 troops and 519 horses. From here they were sent to the Flanders area to gain experience in trench conditions and spent the next three months guarding a so called quite sector. From here they moved south to the Somme battlefields for their first large-scale action. The artillery served on the Somme during 1916, for a time independent from the NZ Division. It was here on September 17, 1916, that Harry received a gunshot wound to the head, was treated at Number 16 Aid Post before being admitted on September 19 to No 8 General Hospital at Rouen. The next day he was evacuated to England aboard the Hospital Ship Aberdonian, and admitted on September 21 to the 2nd London General Hospital at Chelsea. From here on October 24 he was transferred to the Convalescent Camp at Hornchurch, before being taken on strength at NZ Com Depot, Codford, on October 26. After some well-earned leave, Harry re-joined the NZ Field Artillery at Sling Camp on December 20 before moving to the NZ Field Artillery Depot at Aldershot. From here on March 19, 1917, Harry proceeded back to France where he was posted to the 2nd NZ (Army) Field Artillery Brigade. Here he was attached to the 6th Battery, before again being transferred to the 5th Battery on May 26, 1917, and promoted to Temporary Sergeant on May 30. In 1917 and 1918, the 2nd (Army) Brigade served as a movable artillery unit under British command. It fought at Messines (June 1917) and Nieuport (June–December 1917) before returning to the main action to oppose the German Spring Offensive (March–July 1918), and take part in the ‘Advance to Victory’ (July–November 1918). On February 3, 1918, Sgt Scrimshaw was sent back to England and posted to the NZ Artillery Reserve Group at Ewshot. From here on February 28, 1918, he was taken on the strength of the NZEF Headquarters London Audit Department, and promoted to Temporary Staff Sergeant on August 21. This promotion was made permanent on November 20, 1918. He was to stay at NZEF HQ until he boarded the SS Tainui at London on February16 arriving back in Auckland on April 2, 1920. After having served a total of 5 years and 108 days, Staff Sergeant Scrimshaw was discharged from the army on May 2, 1920, later receiving the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Harry returned home for a short time, but by 1920, was back in Wellington living at 209 Sutherland Road, Lyall Bay, working as an accountant. In 1921 he sat and passed two sets of University accountancy exams, and in 1922 he married Miss Rita MacDonald Wyllie, the daughter of James and Elizabeth Jane Wyllie. It is not known if he took up his position again with the Treasury, but at some time he was employed as an accountant for the Colonial Motor Company in Courtney Place, Wellington, exporters of Ford motor cars. He enjoyed a game of golf, was a member of the Kilbirnie RSA and in 1927, was the secretary of the Brooklyn Harrier and Athletics Club. Harry was to reside at the Lyall Bay address until his death on November 9, 1953, and was cremated at the Karori Crematorium on November 11. After his death, Rita remarried, in 1954, to John Ronald McLeod.

Harry’s brother 6/1399 2nd Lieutenant Erik George Scrimshaw also served with the Canterbury Infantry Brigade and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for heroism at Gallipoli.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [July 2017]; Assorted records at [July 2017]; New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at; 'Wounded embarked for England' in the Colonist 2 October 1916 p2, and 'Brooklyn Harriers' in the Evening Post 22 MArch 1927 p11, courtesy of Papers Past at; Wellington City Council cemtery records at; Timaru District Council cemtery records at

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Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

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