BAXTER, John Wilson
(Service number 85644)

Aliases Known as Wilson
First Rank Last Rank


Date 24 July 1880 Place of Birth Upper Waitohi, NZ

Enlistment Information

Date 17 December 1917 Age
Address at Enlistment Ruapuna, Ahburton
Occupation Farmer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Married
Next of Kin Margaret Jane Baxter (wife), Chertsy, Ashburton
Medical Information Six foot in height, weighing 168 pounds, with a chest measuring 37-40 inches

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 29 April 1963 Age 82
Place of Death
Memorial or Cemetery Ashburton Cemetery
Memorial Reference Area 262, Plot 32
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

John Wilson Baxter was the son of Irish-born parents, Robert and Alice Maria (née Hunter) Baxter. The couple farmed at Waitohi where John (known as Wilson) was their first son, born in 1880. New Zealand Births, Deaths, and Marriages though appear to have incorrectly recorded his name as John Neilson Baxter however. John followed his father's footsteps into farming, but moved to farming in Mid-Canterbury, at Ruapuna just on the other side of the Rangitata, by the time war came. There he married Margaret Jane Wightman on 22 October 1912 at Methven.

Late in 1917 John was drawn in the second ballot for the Second Division Class A drafts. He was medically examined for service on 17 December 1917, the day of his enlistment, declaring his date of birth as 24 June 1880. He was described as being six foot tall, weighing 168 pounds, with a chest measuring 37-40 inches. He was also described as having a fresh complexion, blue eyes, and generally fit, and was therefore given an A class grading as fit for service. John noted his occupation, address, marital status, and the fact his parents were born in Ireland on his attestation sheet that same day. His service record is brief, but his military history sheet notes that he then had a significant gap prior to being recorded as having "Left Home" from 12 August 1918, and entered camp the following day. There, at Trentham camp, he received his 1st and 2nd inoculations on 20 and 30 August respectively.

Despite it being noted on his attestation form that he was willing to serve, John's file also contains a Military Service Board report indicating Baxter appealed against service, under section 18 of the Military Service Act 1916. The section included provision for appeal against service on the basis of service being contrary to the public interest, based on causing undue domestic hardship, or on religious grounds. Perhaps he had reconsidered his willingness to serve. His appeal may have been based on his occupation as a farmer - some small farmers did not have staff or other family that could maintain their farms in their absence and therefore support the families they left behind. Whatever the circumstance discussed was though, the board settled on making no recommendation when it met on 20 August 1918. Presumably John continued training, but his service record doesn't contain any details of this. The war came to a close soon after and in the absence of any other evidence he presumably did not embark overseas. In due course though he was released back to civilian life as a Ballot form appears to note that he was demobilised on 25 February 1919, noting "Demob C.I.W. 25/2/1919".

After the war John returned to farming at Ruapuna. By 1935 though he appears to have relocated his farming to Methven according to electoral rolls. The 1941 electoral roll shows him as having moved again, this time into Ashburton township, where he still was listed as being a farmer until the 1957 electoral roll recorded him as being retired. John died aged 82, in 1963. He was buried in the Presbyterian section of Ashburton Cemetery, next to his wife Margaret who passed away a little over a year earlier.


Timaru Herald, 4 December 1917, courtesy of Papers Past at [08 August 2015]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [21 December 2019 & 24 February 2022]; Ashburton Cemetery burial record (Ashburton District Council) [30 December 2019 & February 2022]; SCROll web submission by C Wright 22 February 2022]; Militray Service file 85644, held by Archives New Zealand [24 February 2022]; Assorted electoral rolls, accessed via [24 February 2022]

External Links

Related Documents

No documents available. 

Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Logo. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.

Tell us more

Do you have information that could be added to this story? Or related images that you are happy to share? Submit them here!

Your Details
Veteran Details
- you may attach an image or document up to 10MB