(Service number 27508)

Aliases Also spelt BLANCHARD. Enlisted as Thomas HOLGATE.
First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date *1877 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment Prince of Wales Hotel, Dunedin
Occupation Hairdresser
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Married but . . .
Next of Kin Mrs E. AVISON (sister), Wilson Street, Timaru
Religion Church of England
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 17th Reinforcements, Otago Infantry Battalion, D Company
Date 23 September 1916
Transport Pakeha
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Regiment

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 26 December 1937 Age 60 years
Place of Death Invercargill
Memorial or Cemetery Eastern Cemetery, Invercargill
Memorial Reference Soldiers Avenue, Block 4, Plot 94
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Thomas Blanchett (Blanchard) was the youngest son of Augustus Ferdinand and Elizabeth (née Husk) Blanchett. His parents had married in the Channel Islands and migrated to Canterbury, New Zealand, in 1863. They settled at Timaru. Thomas was educated at Timaru Main School before spending three years at the Burnham Industrial School. Thomas found himself on the wrong side of the law when just a lad. In 1883, with two other boys he was charged with stealing strawberries. Some fourteen months later, he and his brother Fred, and two Bell brothers, “youths of tender age”, were charged with lighting a fire in a fence. Three, including the Blanchett brothers, were sent to gaol for 48 hours. The offending increased. In 1891, thirteen year old Thomas was charged with stealing eight pocket knives. In 1892, Thomas Blanchett (“who had been thrice previously charged with petty offences”) and two others were charged with breaking into a shop, Thomas pleaded guilty to taking oranges and fish hooks. His father said “his boy was a good boy nt home, and he had been keeping as sharp an eye upon him as be could.”The detective gave him a very different character, and blamed him for leading the ethers into crime. The judge said that it was quite evident that Blanchett required some kind of restraint. He committed him to the Industrial School until he was 15, and ordered him to receive 12 strokes with a birch rod. Thus he spent three years at Burnham Industrial School.

August 1896 saw reform, when Thomas was elected a member of the United Cricket Club, and he enjoyed success in showing his pigeons at the Poultry and Cat Show in 1897.He married Florence Elizabeth Scott on 30 May 1900 at Waimate, and they had one son – Thomas Buller Blanchett. Mr Tom Blanchett had his son photographed with a Union Jack, on which was a large picture of General Sir Redvers Buller, as a background. He sent the phot and a ltter to Sir Redvers, and received a reply dated 15 June 1901. “In calling the youthful New Zealander after me, you pay me a great compliment, and I can only hope that the lad, as he grows up, will fulfil your hopes by becoming aman worthy of that esteem which you are kind enough to credit me,” wrote Sir Redvers. Thomas (Mr Blanchette) also took a very keen interest in coursing. He imported from Sydney a greyhound which came from very fine stock, its father being considered one of the best greyhounds in Australasia. It soon experienced marked success. Tom also took his turn serving on the south Canterbury Coursing Club committee.

Thomas Blanchett, alias Thomas Holgate, left with the 17th Reinforcements on 23 February 1916. His nominated next-of-kin was his sister. Why did Thomas take a false name? There are several incorrect details in his enlistment record – birthdate and thus age; year of marriage; that his wife was deceased, and that he had served in South Africa. As T. Holgate he embarked from Liverpool on 16 November 1917 by the “Ruahine” and arrived back in New Zealand on 6 January 1918. The name of Thomas Blanchett, hairdresser, Fairlie, was published in the Gazette of 14 May 1918 as a Military Defaulter. Those so listed were to be deprived of civil rights for ten years from 10 December 1918.

Mid 1919 Florence petitioned for divorce, saying that for four or more years from 1908 Thomas had been a habitual drunkard, had failed to support her, and had been cruel toward her, and that since October 1914 had wilfully deserted her. A P.S. to the published notice read “Friends of the above-named Respondent (who is now belived to be known by the name of “Holgate”) being aware of his address are requested to forward this Advertisemnet to him.” She stated that her husband had gone to the war, but she had received no allotment from him. There was a note added to his military file that Mrs Balnchett of Foxton was to be advised if he returned to New Zealand. Thomas and Florence, who had gone to Foxton some years before, divorced in 1920, and he married for a second time in 1921 to Margaret Ellen Moore, by whom he had six children. Post war Thomas went by the name of Blanchard, as did his brother William from the 1940s. William, whose name was registered at birth as William Henry Blanchard, had served in the South African War.The services plaques for both Thomas and William bear the name Blanchard.Another brother, John, enlisted for World War I, as did his son Thomas Buller Blanchett who went on to serve in World War II.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [09 November 2019]; NZBDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [12 November 2019]; School admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [11 November 2019]; Industrial School Admission records [11 November 2019]; South Canterbury Times, 13 December 1883, 4 January 1892, 19 August 1896, 26 June 1897, 3 August 1901, Lyttelton Times, 4 February 1885, Timaru Herald, 28 October 1891, 24 November 1906, 15 February 1907, 8 January 1918, Press, 26 May 1919, Dominion, 29 August 1919, Manawatu Times, 13 November 1919 (Papers Past) [22 November 2013; 12 November 2019]; Eastern Cemetery headstone image [11 November 2019]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [11 November 2019]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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