UNWIN, William Howard
(Service number 3/2206)

First Rank Last Rank


Date 14 July 1871 Place of Birth New Cross, London

Enlistment Information

Date 15 June 1916 Age 44 years 11 months
Address at Enlistment Church Street, Timaru
Occupation Medical practitioner
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Married
Next of Kin Mrs W. H. UNWIN (wife), Church Street, Timaru; Edward UNWIN (father), The Mount, Shortlands, Kent, England
Religion Nonconformist
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 New Zealand Medical Corps
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

Medical practitioner


Date 25 December 1945 Age 74 years
Place of Death Timaru
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

William Howard Unwin was the second son of Edward and Elizabeth (née Spicer) Unwin. William was at home at Lee, London, with his family in 1881 and 1891. He was appointed medical superintendent of Timaru Hospital in 1904, resigning in 1907 to go into private practice. On 5 December 1904 in New Zealand he married Phyllis Agnes Florence Hall. William and Phyllis had three sons and one daughter, all born in Timaru. A medical practitioner in Timaru, he enlisted on 15 June 1916 and went to serve. He spent nearly two years in England “doing splendid work at Walton and other military hospitals”. Before returning to New Zealand, “Major Unwin has received several extremely valuable presentations from his confreres.” He acted as medical officer on the voyage home – “Tainui”, Draft 130 (2 November 1917 – 4 January 1918) carrying 442 invalided soldiers, the walking wounded from the Somme and Messines. Accompanied by a nursing sister (Letitia Millar) and six men of the ranks, all belonging to South Canterbury, he travelled to Timaru by the express and was given a hearty welcome by a large crowd. The Mayor addressed them briefly, and he made special mention of Dr. W. H. Unwin and Sister Millar, as he had learned of the splendid service these two had rendered their boys. His expression of thanks and appreciation to all returning, on behalf of the people of South Canterbury, was met with applause.

W. H. Unwin was also a mountaineer. On one occasion he broke a leg and crawled for miles towards the Hermitage before he was found by guides. William Howard Unwin died on Christmas Day 1945 at Timaru. He had served Timaru citizens for 40 years. His wife died in 1932 and his second son in 1933. Dr Unwin’s brother, Cyril Unwin, also served with the New Zealand forces in World War I, and another brother, Sidney Unwin, a farmer in South Canterbury, was called up. Both Cyril and Sidney died in New Zealand. His brother Stanley who remained in England, was a conscientious objector and joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment. He was later knighted.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [12 December 2016]; 1881 & 1891 England census returns ( [25 March 2020]; The Times, 28 December 1945 (Andrews Newspaper Index Cards per [25 March 2020]; Timaru Herald, 8 December 1917, 5 & 9 January 1918, NZ Herald, 4 January 1918, Press, 26 December 1945 (Papers Past) [01 September 2014; 25 March 2020]

External Links

Related Documents

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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